WANDERLUST| Mindanawon weavers declared National Living Treasures

MINDANAWON traditional weavers Ambalang Ausalin, Yabing Masalon Dulo and Estelita Tumandan Bantilan were chosen by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as 2016’s recipients of the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasures Award.

The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan is conferred on Filipinos who are “at the forefront of the practice, preservation, and promotion of the nation’s traditional folk arts”. Duterte signed Proclamation No. 126 last January 6, which named the three living treasures as Manlilikha ng Bayan.


FU YABING’S daughter, next generation igem weaver


BLAAN mabal tabih weavers of Landan KafyeBlaan

The awardee from Lamitan City, Basilan is Ambalang Ausalin, a Yakan tennun (tapestry) weaver. She is recognized for the upholding and promotion of the Yakan tapestry weaving tradition. Yakan weaving showcases elaborate geometric designs and patterns that are inspired by nature.

Ikat weaver Yabing Masalon Dulo is from the B’laan tribe of Polomolok in South Cotabao, renowned for her efforts in preserving and promoting ikat weaving tradition, a complex dyeing technique that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.

Meanwhile, Bantilan is B’laan igem weaver from Malapatan, a first class municipality in Sarangani. She is known for her endeavors in promoting and keeping the customary mat weaving tradition alive through skills transfer to the younger generation of B’laans.


BLAAN weaver and DOT 12’s Nelly Dillera wearing Fu Yabing’s tabih skirt. Behind them are the igem mats of Estelita Bantilan

The awardees were selected based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Such recognition of sociocultural contributions was formalized through Republic Act No. 7355, the Manlilikha ng Bayan Act. The NCCA oversees its implementation and ensures that traditional folk artists’ skills and crafts are preserved. The award is attached with a program that secures the transfer of their skills to next generation as well as the promotion of their expertise locally and internationally.

“It is our pride and honor that two of the three Manlilikha ng Bayan for 2016 come from SOCCSKSARGEN (SOX),” said Department of Tourism 12 regional director Nelly Dillera, whose region’s main attraction is the showcase of traditional cultures.

Recently, igem and ikat weaving were featured in the Bangala Fashion Fair in Cotabato City, an international event attended by artists and artisans from Malaysia and Indonesia.


MINDANAWON weavers showcasing Mindanao fabrics

“That’s why we always do our best to align cultural events with our tourism programs. We advocate the giving of apt recognition to our cultural workers and artists who help preserve our cultural icons, from products, musical instruments, wear, traditional practices, and artists, such as Dulo and Bantilan. We are truly blessed and proud of their contributions to the country’s intangible cultural heritage,” she added.

As recipients of the prestigious award, Ausalin, Dulo and Bantilan are presented with a specially designed medallion, an initial grant of PhP100,000 and a PhP14,000 lifetime stipend per month. They will also receive a maximum cumulative amount of PhP750, 000 worth of medical and hospitalization benefits as well as funeral assistance. .

Other Mindanawons awarded with the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan include Kutyapi musician Samaon Sulaiman of Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 1993, tinalak weaver Lang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato in 1998, ikat/inabal weaver Salinta Monon of Bansalan, Davao del Sur in 1998, kulinatang, kwitangan, kayu, gabbang, agung, and tuntungan musician Uwang Ahadas of Lamitan, Basilan in 2000, pis yabit weaver Darhata Sawabi of Parang, Sulu in 2004, and mat weaver Haja Amina Appi of Tandubas, Tawi-Tawi in 2004.

Additional photos courtesy of RD Nelly Dillera.

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