Hinabi sa Pilipinas
A Reward Project
The solution we are proposing are products that cater to the upper middle and upper classes that shed the novelty status of these weaves thus making them wearable every day. For our initial offering, we will be producing watches. There are a lot of small independent manufacturers around the globe that produce quality watches in small quantities. Magrette Timepieces, a New Zealand-based company, makes watches with hand-engraved cases that tell native aboriginal stories of heroes and other folklore. Following their culturally-inspired footsteps, we will be using a variety of weaves as the strap, with the dial and bezel following the unique styling cues of the vinta.
The primary objective of the project is to provide an alternative line of products that people can use everyday. We want to break that glass ceiling – that there are indeed more uses of the product other than blankets and table runners, or expensive barongs and stilettos. This is the reason why we chose watches, as these are things people wear every day. Being a watch, it will have higher value compared to a souvenir item yet more accessible than a designer abaca dress or bag.
Our logo, without the name, and the words “Gawa sa Pilipinas” will appear on the dial as well – that even though our movements will be Swiss or Japanese, we intend to give focus on the fact that the watch has a strong Filipino heritage. We don’t want the watch to be a “pity product”, or something that will be bought because of pity. The watch has too be bought because, it itself, it is a good, quality watch, and can hold it’s own against other watches already available.
Nowadays, the T’boli t’nalak is produced with cotton fibers and synthetic dyes. They are made in factories and fade easily. There is no motivation to make a quality weave, only the money one gets from it – it is no longer a profession, only a job. Their traditional barter systems have been taken over by capitalism – commercialization has led to the downfall of these native products. The weaving industry will not survive another generation of this, even less so improve and flourish. It needs a spark that will restore value to the ikat and dignity to the weavers. We believe that with a little elbow grease, that good old-fashioned ingenuity and hard work, we can turn this project into that spark. Last June 2009, Salinta Monon, the last surviving ikat weaver of the Bagobo tribe of Davao del Sur, moved on to the great tribe in the sky, leaving no one to continue her weaving. A cultural icon, featured in publications local and abroad, keeper of the last remnants of her native Bagobo culture, is lost, and along with her, the future of the tribal weave. There was a certain rage, a frustration at the loss of not just the icon, but of the entire weaving heritage of that tribe. Losses like these cannot be undone. One realizes that something has to be done, else lose Philippine weaves to museums.