May 27, 2024

Nonnette C. Bennett

Weaving is one of the traditional crafts that have endured the tests of and trials of the modern times.
The cycles that translate to good income and no income have come and gone but each full turn seems to be a rebirth, like fashion, it reinvents itself with popular colors or deepens its connection with traditional patterns.
Of late, the movement of textiles has been towards preserving the timeworn patterns in foresight of the rapid digital changes of the times.
The publication of children’s books on weaving stories from the different ethnic groups of the Cordillera by the CordiTex Research will be able to capture this century’s status for the future readers and research.
More than a children’s book, this Ga’dang weaving story, Aramay’s Sinnun, is an account of this woman’s world in the Ga’dang milieu.
Aramay is the story teller from the Ga’dang tribe of Paracelis, Mountain Province. The Ga’dang were nomadic in the past and used allak, bark clothing, that were woven by the women, while the men wove baskets from rattan. These activities were done between harvests.
Ina Buggay, her mother, was a master weaver who planted kapat, the cotton plant, at the same time as the apay or rice which are also harvested at the same time. The precious cotton seeds are kept in the betelnut sheath called, kukot.
Aramay asked her mother where she learned how to weave, and she was told that the mother of Ina Buggay taught her, and she would teach Aramay too.
The time came to learn the steps of the massinun or weaving preparation: the kapat is spun into threads and dyed with plant dyes, warped into the backstrap loom, then woven. The loom is made by the father. This takes a long tedious process until it becomes cloth. The most elaborate design is called inammata or sinakung. The striped pattern is called lallad, the ilintuwan or teeth-like patterns, and the annalifambang or butterfly designs.
She would decorate her work with ammeru or embroidery and bukat, the small glass beads which was traded for salt in the north. The cloth is used to make clothes for the family.
When she got married, she moved to the patad or the lowlands and stopped weaving because she could not find the same cotton and natural dye. These were not useful in making the traditional Ga’dang attire and she was afraid that it might offend the anitos who taught them how to weave. She still wore her aken, the wrap around skirt that her mother made for her that were still bright colored. She longed to hear her backstrap loom sing.
She returned to Paracelis one day as a grandmother and found the roads paved and the sources of the tayum or indigo dye replaced with bananas, corn, and rice. The river was dried up where she once rinsed the dyes off the cloth. She patiently taught her grandchildren how to do the massinun with the new cotton threads from the Baguio City market. She was glad that other families were teaching their children the massinun.
The short story was written by Margareth Balansi, one of the contemporary weavers from Paracelis and Analyn Salvador–Amores, anthropologist and the director of Museo Kordilyera of University of the Philippines Baguio.
The illustrations were from Justine Gabriela Amores a History and Political Science senior of the University of the Philippines Baguio.
Another interesting feature of the book is the Ga’dang text placed after the English text to keep the language spoken in the area.
The stories will be familiar but the language and the patterns different in the collection of weaving stories from the CordiTex Research.
The book is edited by Liwliwa Malabed, an author of children’s stories.