Weaving is an integral part of Philippine Cordillera culture, an important element and component of the community. The weavers weave their culture and heritage into the fabrics Each community has its respective design, symbolism and color palette. It’s an identifying detail from each community, including the cut and pattern of the dresses they wear. The fabrics are as well identifiers of one’s status in the community.
Important and integral weaving as it may be in the community, with the advent of tourism and trade, it became a cottage industry, an alternative source of income. All members of the weaving family are involved, each playing a role in the weaving process, from, cotton separation, dyeing, drying, spinning and weaving. Back strap loom is what’s used in weaving in the upland communities as opposed to the upright loom of the lower altitude communities. The back strap looms are either heirlooms through generations or as gifts from the husbands.
But the weaving industry in the Philippine Cordilleras faces many challenges with a stronger and faster cultural exchange and influences, modern weaving technology and consumerism. Skilled weavers are diminishing by the year is another hurdle. Weavers are old and the younger generation is not interested in the tradition. Market development, enterprise management and product development are another.
Though organizations, Local Government Units, government departments like Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and even the Department of Tourism (DOT) extend a helping hand, the Philippine Cordilleras weaving industry still have a lot of challenges to overcome. But we hope the tradition will live on for the generations to come.