Herald Express, Vol. 1 No. 41, September 27, 2015

BAGUIO CITY - Local officials from the different parts of the Cordillera extended their warmest greetings and congratulations to Leonarda 'Narda' Olat-Capuyan after she took center stage as the Philippine representative at an exhibition that highlighted the stories and images of 16 extraordinary women entrepreneurs from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries.

Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said Capuyan's recent achievement should serve as an inspiration for today's youth that Cordillerans have a chance to shine in prestigious international competitions once given the appropriate trainings and exposure saying that her life story is worth sharing to every Cordilleran.

Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin, who is also the chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera cited that Capuyan's accomplishment in her field of expertise should serve as an inspiration for people in the remote villages of the region that they also have a chance to reach the ladder of success if they strive hard to improve on the quality of their unique products.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan said the numerous prestigious national and international awards reaped by Capuyan only proves that Cordilleras have a place in their chosen fields of expertise if they try to excel and work to innovate their skills for a brighter future, those, today's youth should reflect on the success of Capuyan as they strive to climb up the success ladder.

For his part, Mountain Province Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen cited that Capuyan who traces her roots from Besao town speaks well of the patience, perseverance and passion of Cordillerans to achieve best in their chosen fields of profession, thus, the present and future generations must emulate the same to continue bring honor and pride to the region as a whole.

Unveiled on September 16, 2015 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) ICONOGRAPH celebrated the entrepreneurial vision and leadership that made these icons agends of empowering their fellow women and being prime movers of inclusive growth in their respective communities in the 21st century.

The singular honor of being the Philippines' icon recognizes Capuyan's 45 years as a remarkably innovative and creative leading light in the traditional weaving industry. With her highly original use of scrap threads, leather trimmings and natural fibers, she gave ikat, an ancient art she revived, a distinctively 'Nardas's' Look and texture.Along the way, Capuyan shared her expertise with women and helped them launch and sustain their own businesses.

ICONOCGRAPH was curated by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and presented as part of the APEC Women and Economy 2015 Fora whose goals include ensuring "gender equality and create new economic opportunities for women."

In the 1970s, Leonarda Capuyan grew wary watching Cordilleran women sire children without enough of the financial resources to see them through. Once, at a family planning clinic in La Trinidad, Benguet a client of hers said, "If you give me that thread you are knitting, I will not get pregnant." A few days later, the woman returned with a beautifully woven blanket telling Capuyan that these could be made easily by weaving rather than knitting.

So began the life's work of Capuyan whose name, Narda, has become synonymous with the best in Philippine traditional woven fabrics. Narda's Handwoven Arts and Crafts has at its heart a deep understanding of Cordilleran women's relationship to the loom and to each other. Young girls traditionally learn to weave under the tutelage of their mothers. It is a coming of age ritual that modernity would be quick to diminish were it not for Capuyan's rootedness in community and dedication to the people she regards as Kailian (companions ins the village).

In the industry, Capuyan is known for having innovatively revived the ancient art of ikat, making it a symbol of cultural conservation. Her use of eco-fibers for tapestries made from abaca, maguey, buri, jute, salago, raffia, lupis, and bacbac was a highly original and inventive strategy to increase regard for traditional Philippine weaves.

Entrepreneurial as she is and able to inspire other women to follow in her footsteps, Capuyan is respected for having returned dignity to the women of the Cordilleras, who lost everything during the Baguio earthquake of 1990. She relentlessly organized trade fairs and rallied weavers to return to their looms so as not to lose more than they already had and to gain hope for the future that was yet to be.

For Capuyan, success is not the triumph of an individual but of a community guided by the values of olnos and og-ogbo, which refer to cooperation and mutual dependence in the pursuit of shared goals.

By DEXTER A. SEE and BONA RESURRECCION Hide this content.

My City, My SM, My Crafts: Celebrating Narda's and Cordillera craftsmanship in Baguio
The Philippine Star, April 13, 2014

MANILA, Philippines - The crafts of the Cordilleras, which consists of the City of Baguio, as well as the provinces of Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, the Mountain Province, and Ifugao, are rooted in the rich cultural tradition of its indigenous people.

The Americans, who established Baguio as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, honed these skills when they started a trade school now known as St. Louis University. It was here where home industries like hat making, weaving, handicrafts, and silversmithing were taught as part of the curriculum for industrial arts.

As Baguio became known as a top tourist destination, these crafts became must-have souvenir items popular with both local and foreign tourists. In more recent years, modern artisans have transformed these traditional crafts " weaving, wood carving, and silversmithing " into world-class pieces that have made us truly proud to be Filipino.

Mallgoers recently had a glimpse of crafts from the Cordilleras, as well as the rare opportunity to meet its master craftsmen up close when "My City, My SM, My Crafts" recently made its 12th stop at SM City Baguio. A joint project of SM, DTI's Bureau of Domestic Trade, and the Philippine STAR with support from CITEM and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, it is a celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design in the cities where SM has malls.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan attended the event together with City Councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Elaine Sebrano and Elmer Datuin. They were joined by DTI regional director Myrna Pablo and City Tourism officer Benedicto Alahambra. SM officials led by SM vice president for marketing Millie Dizon and SM Supermalls regional operations manager NL 1 Cesar Bondoc and mall manager Marc Janssen Pe gave guests a warm welcome.
The event also honored Narda Capuyan, whose Narda's Collection revived a Cordillera tradition of weaving ikat and brought it to the international stage.

Ikat is a very old tradition of tying and dyeing segments of threads before actual weaving. Narda, together with her husband Wilson, designed and dyed threads in vibrant colors to suit contemporary tastes, creating new ikat weaves in placemats, shawls and bags, which became a hit with foreign buyers.

The products were given a big break in 1982 when Bloomingdale's Department Store in New York featured Narda's products and brought her to Japan, Europe, and Canada.

Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Marshall Fields in the US, and Hudson's Bay in Canada were some of her initial buyers. And she continues to proudly showcase her wonderful weaves in the global stage.

Capuyan has won numerous citations for her work: the Outstanding Countryside Investor Award by the later President Corazon Aquino in 1989, the Baguio Builders Award by the City of Baguio during its Centennial Celebration and the Ernst & Young Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award in October 2013.

Guests enjoyed the program, which included a video presentation featuring the crafts of Baguio and the Cordilleras with former Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1977 Ana Lorraine Kier-Tabora as the video's tour guide.

Highlights of the event was a fashion show showcasing Narda's wonderful weaves, as well as the awarding of the winner of the wood-carving contest with workshop participants making their own exquisite creations. Joemax Cayong got the judges' nod for the top prize, for which he received P5,000 worth of gift certificates.

Judges included DTI CAR regional director Myrna Pablo and City Councilors Elaine Sembrano and Elmer Datuin.

But the "My City, My SM, My Crafts" centerpiece was clearly the Craft Market inspired by the traditional bahay na bato in Luzon. This beautifully designed showcase was a treasure trove of the best of the best crafts in the province and was an instant hit among SM City Baguio shoppers.

The Craft Market showcased traditional arts and world-class craftsmanship from the Cordillera: woven wonders from Narda's and Easter Weaving School; exquisite jewelry pieces of Ibay's Silvershop and the PNKY Creation; woodwork from Ron and Mar Woodcraft and the Asin Bamboo Carver's Guild Inc; and handcrafted home decor from Philippine Treasures.

"My City, My SM, My Crafts" is a take-off from the previous My City, My SM campaign, which promotes tourism, and "My City, My SM, My Cuisine" which highlights the culinary specialties in cities where SM has malls. A celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design, it aims to showcase the best of the best Philippine crafts in each host city, providing livelihood opportunities, as well as a platform for cultural exchange.

The Baguio launch is the 12th in the "My City, My SM, My Crafts" road show after SM City Santa Rosa, SM City Lucena, SM City Batangas, SM City Davao, SM City Naga, SM City Cagayan de Oro, SM City Marilao, SM City Dasmariñas, SM City Taytay, SM City Pampanga, and SM City Iloilo. Next stop will be in SM City Cebu.

http://www.philstar.com/sunday-life/2014/04/13/1311871/my-city-my-sm-my-crafts-celebrating-nardas-and-cordillera-craftsmanship-in-baguio Hide this content.

The Entrepreneur of the Year
GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS By Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star)

Updated October 24, 2013

Last Wednesday, I was invited to present an award at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY). EOY has been awarding the most outstanding Filipino entrepreneurs and showcasing their success as role models for other entrepreneurs. It was a milestone event since the EOY in the Philippines is now on its 10th year. We still remember when Jollibee's inspiring founder Tony Tan Caktiong won the first EOY, and eventually even the World Entrepreneur of the Year at Monaco. Such a proud moment for the Filipino entrepreneur community.

For the last five years, I have been invited to award the Small Business Entrepreneur Award category, an area where Go Negosyo has been focusing on over the past eight years. Today, Go Negosyo is supported by over 600 entrepreneurs, and many of them have been EOY winners as well, or finalists from the Ernst and Young entrepreneur search, or selected in PLDT SME Nation Bossings search and in our Go Negosyo recognitions in the different summits we do. The satisfaction in receiving an award in any of these recognitions in a way pays for the sacrifice each entrepreneur goes through as there are more failures that success. And even to those who have succeeded, many of them fail at different points in their journey, but through persistence, perseverance and passion and with the right business model, they eventually succeed.

In last week's EOY, I was moved by the inspiring messages given by Mark Weinberger, EY Global chairman and chief executive officer. SGV chairman and managing partner Vic Noel and his team did another great awarding ceremony, and as the 12 finalists were presented, their respective stories, words of wisdom and advice were true inspiration and learnings to everyone.

I was not feeling well that evening and told the organizers that I had a very bad cold, but through the help of my doctor, Dr. Celdran, who was been so patient with me through the years, I managed to arrive and award the Small Entrepreneur of the Year. I am glad I made it since the winner this year is the multi-awarded Leonarda Capuyan, more known for her Narda's Handwoven Arts and Crafts Inc. of La Trinidad, Benguet. She was mentored by my father during his DTI days as Secretary of Trade and Industry, and she was also a Go Negosyo awardee for Baguio some years back, as well as a Go Negosyo advocate.

Narda, who is probably in her 60s, is truly an inspiring story coming from Baguio. As a family planning nurse in Benguet, she used to provide counselling to indigenous women who came to the clinic. One day, a woman promised not to get pregnant if Narda would give her the yarn that she uses in her knitting. That woman eventually came back with a very beautiful blanket. The woman asked for more yarns and eventually other indigenous women were weaving very beautiful and uniquely woven products, so this gave Narda a great idea to help them by providing a steady supply of raw materials and eventually help them market the finished goods. Today Narda's woven handicrafts are marketed locally and abroad to Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Italy and Hong Kong. Narda's EOY recognition is well deserved. She has a very inspiring entrepreneurial journey that uplifts the spirit of every entrepreneur who knows her.

Narda came up the stage almost in tears, and she hugged me as she received the award from me, Erramon Aboitiz, and Tennyson Chen, both EOY past awardees in 2010 and 2011.


I was also happy to witness that our Go Negosyo advocate Juliet Herrera of Serenitea Cha Kitchen receive the Young Entrepreneur Award, as well as Dr. Milagros How of Universal Harvester; who bagged the Women Entrepreneur Award.

As the night progressed, Ben Chan of Suyen Corporation, maker of the famous brand Bench, receive the Master Entrepreneur Award and the most coveted Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines. He would be the country's representative to the World Entrepreneur of The Year 2014 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June next year.

My admiration also goes to the other national finalists who everyone considers already as winners and leading entrepreneurs, namely: Santi Araneta (LBC Express Inc.), Alexander Bangsoy (Goshen Land Capital, Inc.), Maria Lorena Simeon-Florendo (LIFEDATA Systems Inc.), Alberto Lina (Airfreight 2100, Inc.), Cesar Mario Mamon (Enchanted Kingdom, Inc.), Manuel Osmena (Manny O. Group), Dr. Victor Perez (University of Cagayan Valley), and Rajan A Uttamchandani (Esquire Financing Inc.).

Congratulations to the awardees, finalists and organizers! You are the changemakers and leading nation-builders that help make this country move forward, giving hope and jobs to many Filipinos.

It is nice to see entrepreneurs succeed and eventually join the cause of Go Negosyo to inspire others. This is how we see our successful entrepreneurs paying back, and also by pushing for inclusive growth, but let me save that topic for my next column.

Talking about micro and small entrepreneur, just the other day, I took part in judging the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) together with BSP Governor Armando Tentangco Jr., Mr. Batara Sianturi (Citi country officer for the Philippines), Marixi Rufino-Prieto (The Philippine Daily Inquirer), Felipe Gozon (GMA Network Inc.), Antonino L. Alindogan Jr. (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), Dr. Darwin D. Yu (Ateneo de Manila University – John Gokongwei School of Management, and Sec. Imelda Nicolas (Commission on Filipinos Overseas). CMA is a program that Go Negosyo has participated for the last five years. This is an area where we really would like our micro and small entrepreneurs to move beyond the survival mode. The finalists this year are Jennilyn Antonio (peanut butter), Jerilyn Lucareza(meat products), Clarita Buenavente (clinics and maternity services), Marylyn Cleto (mini-grocery and broom manufacturing), Enrico Fojas (production and retail of fish and animal feeds), Ma. Guidella Argabio (sugarcane farming), Regina Paller (roadside eatery serving oysters), Heidi Alimios (events organizing), Necy Ann Ty(mountaineering gears), Julieta Lacanilao (costume making and rentals), Anita de Andres (dried fish), Rosario Caparas (buchi-making), and Ramil Tuazon (chlorella related products).

The winners will be announced during the event itself. Their stories really show how women are natural entrepreneurs. Their motivation is family and their inspiration of faith is always God. And their attitude is one of sikap and tiyaga. This gives me the heart to continue the Go Negosyo advocacy and this is shared by fellow entrepreneurs who have been with us through these eight years.

http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/10/24/1248602/entrepreneur-year Hide this content.

Narda gains foothold in Manhattan market
Inquirer Northern Luzon, December 15th, 2012

BAGUIO CITY - The Cordillera brand Narda's was displayed at a recent New York fashion week and provided Cordillera weaver Leonarda Capuyan a new opportunity to reclaim a foothold in the Manhattan market.

Her fabrics made up the collection modeled on the runway of the Couture Fashion Week New York at the Waldorf Astoria, after being selected as one of the Philippine representatives to the annual fashion event.

Capuyan says she is in the middle of exploratory talks with five fashion designers who intend to develop a high-end line of garments using woven Cordillera fabrics. Read more...

She developed a following in the '70s when she and her crew of community women started weaving tie-dyed threads and recycled acrylic yarn into blankets and bed covers, using the traditional backstrap weaving skills of the Mt. Province.

Her woven fabrics were once sold as household decor or were wrapped around furniture in New York's Bloomingdale's store in the late '80s and '90s, but the transactions were cut because of the Asian currency crisis in 1997.

Early this year, Capuyan's fabrics were chosen by Couture Fashion Week founder and producer Andres Aquino, a Colombian-born American designer, for this year's fashion week, prompting the weaver to consider reworking her choice of colors.

Capuyan's signature fabrics combine solid hues of earth colors like red or brown. She says a New York audience "challenged me into trying out a new pattern without sacrificing the signature Narda's designs."

She ended up muting her earth tones and mixing her favored colors with purple and gray-toned yarn, which Aquino and Filipino designer Barge Ramos turned into men's shirts, gowns, jackets and business suits.

"It was the first time New York was introduced formally to Cordillera fabrics," Capuyan says.

Approached by New York retailers, Capuyan says she told them the fabrics depicted the Cordillera culture, pointing out an image of the Ifugao rice terraces on a purple Cordillera ikat (tie-dyed) shirt.

"This was like tapestry," she says.

She still uses the traditional backstrap but the opportunities opened by the New York event now allows her "to play with my work."

"This time, I am making art. My fabrics are simpler but when you look at it from afar, you see the layers for which Narda's is known," she says.

The Narda's website states Capuyan started the Narda's Handwoven Arts and Crafts in 1970 in La Trinidad, Benguet, weaving blankets from recycled acrylic yarns.

Capuyan is a nurse by training "whose hand-knitting hobby attracted the mothers [of her community]." The website adds Capuyan's hobby encouraged them to weave to keep them busy.

"From blankets, Narda's went into hotel furnishings, supplying the Manila Hotel and other five-star hotels in the country. Narda revived the Cordillera ikat tradition designing and dying threads in vibrant colors to suit contemporary taste. Ikat is a very old tradition of tying and dyeing segments of threads before actual weaving. Narda's new style of ikat in place mats, shawls and bags became a hit to foreign buyers," the website states.

It adds Capuyan's big break was Bloomingdale's when she began supplying the Manhattan store with her products in 1982, after she was featured there in an all-Filipino sales exhibition.

That same year, Capuyan received the Golden Shell Award from the then Ministry of Trade for her role in sustaining the dying weaving trade.

Her story was used in a television commercial commissioned by the Development Bank of the Philippines to drumbeat entrepreneurship, and Capuyan was soon hobnobbing with Philippine presidents, like the late Corazon Aquino who presented her with the Countryside Investor Award in 1989.

"Narda's provided jobs to over 600 Cordillera women weavers, until the earthquake hit Baguio in 1990. Narda's spearheaded 'Baguio Isubli Tayo' (Let us rebuild Baguio) along with other Baguio producers by having earthquake sales in Manila to help generate jobs in Baguio," it says.

Capuyan adds Narda's remains a small enterprise, "and I intend to keep it that way."

Unlike her Bloomingdale's account, which required her to ship out volumes of blankets and other products, she believes her new transactions with American designers may be "less stressful."

"They will expect me to produce one-of-a-kind fabrics so I don't need to make so many copies. This will give me time to be an artist," she smiles.

By: Vincent Cabreza
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