March 1, 2024

BONTOC, Mountain Provice – Known as a “weaver’s paradise”, Mountain Province etched a memory of beautiful woven clothing and materials, with its 10 municipalities each showcasing a unique form of weaving shown through the colors, styles and forms.

This ancient craft deeply rooted in the province’s rich cultural heritage is starting to fade because of the dwindling number of culture bearers.

However, through the government’s dedication to preserve and promote historical and cultural heritage, resources, arts,  indigenous crafts and other traditions  and artistic creations, this  traditional art form along with other crafts may continue to be passed on to the younger generations.

A culture bearer from Mountain Province is one of this year’s National Living Treasures or Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (Gamaba) awardee.

Amparo Balansi Mabanag, a Ga’dang embroiderer from Paracelis, is among this year’s Gamaba awardees as declared by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. by virtue of Proclamation 427 signed on Dec. 15, 2023.

Mabanag was recognized for her commitment to safeguard and promote Ga’dang manu’bak and ameru (beadworks and embroidery) tradition.

The Ga’dangs are popular for their colorful traditional attire adorned with beads of semiprecious stones.

Amparo learned this tradition when she was 14 years old. Observing and mimicking the weaving moves of her aunt Gayyawa, Amparo fell in love with warping and wefting threads.

Although she had to stop touching the weaving machines because she had to study, Amparo still went back to working with the threads and beads when she was invited by a cultural master to be a part of a School of Living Traditions (SLT) in Paracelis.

With this, she was able to master her craft, and she shared it by teaching not only her children and grandchildren, but also individuals in the community, helping boost and preserve weaving and beadwork tradition.

When the SLT in her municipality stopped, Amparo’s love for cultural work never stopped. Together with some collaborators, they founded the Battal na Ga’dang. The organization, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, provides weaving and sewing machines also training to develop their products.

Amparo is grateful to the DTI for the support the organization received.

“Maraming salamat sa equipment na binigay ng DTI. Sana ay mas marami pa silang matulungan na tribu. Mabuhay sila, Mabanag said and expressed hope for young individuals to study the weaving industry and carry on the traditional weaving and embroidery of Ga’dangs. “Ti advice ko iti ubbing, adalen da nga nalaing ti aramid mi ta adda met it ited ti gobyerno, ta saan da kuma malipatan ti aramid ti Ga’dang wenno aramid daguiti nagannak mi idi (My advice to the younger generation is that they should learn our culture because the government is providing things, so that they will not forget the Ga’dang or the culture that has been passed down by the elders),” she said. – Clienteast V. Totanes