Ambalang Ausalin, Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee, passes away at age 78

Published February 18, 2022, 1:11 PM

by John Legaspi

Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasure) awardee Ambalang Ausalin, or more commonly known as Apuh Ambalang in the weaving community, passed away early in the morning of Feb. 18 due to a lingering illness. Her demise was confirmed by Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay and a tribute by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She was 78.

An esteemed textile weaver in Lamitan City, Basilan, Ausalin was known for her master skills in making Yakan tapestry, particularly in crafting the most complex design like the suwah bekkat (cross-stitch-like embellishment) and suwah pendan (embroidery-like embellishment) techniques of the bunga sama category.

“Having learned from her mother the expert, Ambalang, using the backstrap loom, started to weave all designs of the bunga sama category, then took on the sinalu’an and the seputangan, two of the most intricate categories in Yakan weaving,” Earl Francis Pasilan wrote in a profile released by the NCCA. “They are the most intricate since the former requires the use of the minutest details of diamond or rhomboid designs, and the latter demands balance and the filling up of all the spaces on the warp with pussuk labung and dinglu or mata-mata patterns.”

With the knowledge given to her by her mother, Ausalin went on and shared the handweaving heritage starting with the women of her family. Through her works and by safeguarding the art of Yakan textiles, especially the colorful “tennun” or tapestry weave, she was honored with the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasures Award in 2016.

Rest in peace, Apuh Ambalang.

Banner photo from the National Museum of the Philippines.