IN an effort to capacitate public school teachers on different aspects of indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices (IKSP), the Ifugao State University (IFSU) conducted a two-day seminar on Ifugao textiles at the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Center at Kiangan, Ifugao from September 9-10, 2021. 

Marlon M. Martin, chief operations officer of the Save Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), a local partner of IFSU, comprehensively discussed the meanings of symbols and patterns of the Ifugao traditional textiles on day one. “Our Ifugao textiles are full of stories. The colors, symbols, and patterns of the textiles can actually tell the intricate relationship of the early Ifugaos to the gods and their universe,” said Martin. 

Martin added that “the use of a variety of symbols in making their traditional textiles are not random creative expressions of the weaver but standard patterns passed down from earlier generations. If we do not understand these, our traditional weaving practice might lose its cultural meanings and context.”

The 15 teacher-trainees also learned that there are more than 30 identified weaving gods and goddesses of the Ifugaos. Each process of weaving has its own god. Among these gods are Punholdayan ad Kabunyan (Punholdayan of the Skyworld), the giver of the loom; Munbuhug, the fluffer; Muntiyong, the spinner; Munhau’d, the warper; Manu’klit, the heddle-raiser, and the Mun-abol, the weaver. 

Stephanie S. Ayahao and Edson Bill M. Holman, both weavers and members of SITMo and the Kiyyangan Weavers Association, also served as speakers during the second day. They highlighted the economics of weaving and why woven products using backstrap weaving are more expensive in the market. 

On the other hand, Eulalie D. Dulnuan, director for the IFSU Ifugao Rice Terraces as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (IFSU IRT-GIAHS) Center said that “With the advent of the contemporary and popular textiles designs, it is important to have a deeper sense of understanding of traditional textiles and on the issue of tangible cultural heritage conservation. We recognize the important role of our teachers in teaching the correct intricacies of weaving and IKSP to our children.”

“We are aware of the issues of cultural misappropriation especially on textiles and this kind of activity is crucial in providing platforms for better discussion on traditional textiles. We plan to conduct more similar activities in the future to cover the wider public on this matter,” concluded Dulnuan. 

“With the seminar, I came to value our textiles more and boosted my cultural identity. I feel so proud hearing the stories of the Ifugao nation embedded in the woven textiles. I appreciate the hard work, patience, and diligence of the mun-abol in continuing the tradition,” quipped Sylvester Lalan, a trainee and Master Teacher II of Lamut Central School, Lamut, Ifugao. 

The activity is part of the lecture series under the Ifugao Indigenous Knowledge Educators Training Program, a component of the Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous, Local Knowledge and Sustainable Studies, to train teacher-trainees from the Department of Education (DepEd) – Ifugao and develop contextualized learning modules on IKSPs. –  Jude C. Baggo