December 5, 2022

Igorot weaver Lydia Langpawen’s victory in the World Crafts Council-Asia Pacific Region as one of the excellent craft persons in Southeast Asia is symbolic of the resilience of the local weaving industry.

Langpawen’s woven piece, “The All Saint’s Tapestry,” was among those chosen in the first “virtual competition of excellent crafts made during the Covid-19 pandemic 2020” during the 38th general assembly in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in December last year.

She received the plaque, which has travelled from Uzbekistan to the country, from Father Jose Quilongquilong SJ, director of Jesuit Aid Foundation and rector of the Jesuit Community at ADMU, who commissioned the tapestry; and Venus Tan, former chief of the Tourism Promotions Board.

The 62-year-old master weaver from Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province has been weaving with Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts for 22 years.

Narda’s Director Lucia Capu-yan-Catanes said it has been a rough year for Narda’s as it has to think of ways to help sustain the livelihood of the men and women who depend on the company.

Despite being on lockdown for weeks, Narda’s helped in the creation of personal protective equipment given for free to medical frontliners in the Cordillera for three months last year.

When PPEs were made available, the company started crafting face masks for sale as well as reached out to clients to avail of their services.

So when the Jesuit Fathers of Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House asked them to produce tapestries to decorate their retreat house in Baguio City, it was a huge sigh of relief for Narda’s.

“The ‘All Saints’ picture was sent to us as a reference. From there, our resident artist – Dindo Llana with the guidance of Father Quilongquilong translated the picture into a design that our weavers could interpret into a tapestry,” Catanes said.

“Our team of warpers and dyers first prepared the warp; the warp carries the signature Narda’s ikat design. Langpawen patiently wove the textile for almost 22 days. The total process took around 30 days,” she added.

The interpretation of the design took almost three months to finalize as everything was done online such as revisions to include San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod.

The expertly woven 56 by 48-inch wall decoration is on display at the Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House.

The WCC-Asia Pacific region, whose panels were impressed at Langpawen’s craft, lauded the perseverance of the crafts people despite the pandemic.

One of the juries, Usha Krishna, said one of the sectors badly-hit is the handicrafts since it lost its traditional market like exhibitions, fairs, and related events as such.

“WCC-Asia Pacific region recognized this new birth of ideas for it gave us a glimmering hope that if crafts are an extension of the culture of the society, have contributed and prospered for ages, they must have the innate ability to survive periods of instability and hence would very well survive the current pandemic too,” Krishna said.

Langpawen was feted along with master crafters from Malaysia, Laos, and Indonesia. – Ofelia C. Empian