Friday, October 5, 2007

American women help Blaan women

MALAPATAN, Sarangani (March 14, 2007) – B'laan women continue to pursue broader horizons as the Ded Libon Di Lasang Association formally launched their mat weaving center in barangay Upper Lasang Monday.

The association received financial grant from the American Women's Club of the Philippines in recognition of their efforts to preserve their culture through mat weaving.

Some people call them the "dreamweavers." Their designs are colorful and no mat has the same design. Each banig (mat) is inspired by the dreams of the weaver.

According to B'laan culture, the designs reflect the B'laan's relationship with their God - D'wata.

"Dako among pasalamat sa tabang na gihatag kanamo," said Rosalinda Bantilan, chairperson of the association.

Ded Libon Di Lasang, which means group of women in Upper Lasang, has 18 weavers. Two are cultural masters.

"This is not only their livelihood. It also reveals the creativity of the B'laan as evidenced by the intricate designs," said Sarangani provincial administrator Fredo Basino, who was born and raised in the area.

The association purchased 18 eyeglasses, a sewing machine and erected a weaving center from the P140,000 given by the American Women's Group of the Philippines.

"Nalipay kami ug dako sa pag-ila sa among kultura ug ang paghatag ug tabang sa among kababaihan ," said tribal chieftain Basino Bantilan.

Made of romblon, a plant with sturdy leaves, the process of weaving one mat takes a considerable amount of time. The romblon leaves has first to be dried, dyed and then woven.

Rituals according to B'laan culture are done but only the weavers know about them.

"This process is a natural and divine process," noted Basino. He explained that the mat weaving is sacred in the culture of the B'laans.

The mats are sold locally. However, there are orders coming from as far as Manila as aggressive promotion is being done by the provincial government.

"The mats are wonderful. The designs are awesome. You definitely have something here which you cannot find anywhere in the world," said Lauren Patty, a Harvard University medical student who had chosen Sarangani as the area for her rural medicine immersion.

Upper Lasang is part of the tourism culture circuit of Sarangani which also includes the Lamlifew Tribal Community in Malungon. Lamlifew features B'laan loom-weaving, beads, baskets and handicrafts of the Tagakaolos. (SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE/RIO)

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