For me, another highlight of Manila FAME was the Craft Revival stations, wherein traditional techniques from Davao, Taal, Pakil and Zamboanga del Sur were demonstrated by different artisans. Found just outside the expo hall, the stations were particularly eye-catching, and immediately drew my and M’s interest.
The first station we saw demonstrated the calado technique. Calado is a form of embroidery, painstakingly executed on fine cloths such as pina or jusi. It was quite entertaining to watch the ladies work very nimbly with their fingers, and it really made me appreciate this craft even more. One needs to have not only good eyesight, but a good design aesthetic, quality orientedness, and ofcourse, the skills, to be able to execute calado beautifully.
Another featured technique was beadwork from the Bagobo community in Davao.
The Bagobo‘s are known for their ornate and decorative garments. Usually, they are adorned with many tiny, multi-colored beads that are sewn into the cloth, and accompanied by bells, sequins and pompoms. I can imagine how long it must take for a garment to be finished! But again, it makes one appreciate how much effort goes into this craft. I really hope it is something that is passed on throughout the generations of this tribe, so that we can continue to enjoy the beauty of Bagobo beadwork :).
One of the most colorful Craft Revival stations was the one on Mat Weaving. It was nice seeing the different colors of straw all lined up in a row, then witnessing the weavers intertwine them to make lovely mats!
Mat Weaving is a craft native to the Maguindanao community in Zamboanga del Sur. Seagrass is used as material for the mats, where they are woven to create different patterns.
It was also quite a sight to witness these women weaving the mats so quickly and mindlessly. It’s like their fingers had a life of their own, and I could not believe the speed in which they were executing this craft–without breaking the straw at that! I’m sure this is something they can do beautifully even in their sleep! Hahaha!
The last station was on the art of Wood Shaving. Some of the best whittlers hail from the province of Pakil, Laguna. Using knives with different lengths and thicknesses, they carve softwood into filigreed fans, peacocks, birds and flowers.
Again, I can imagine how one has to be extremely precise when doing this craft. As I was observing this man whittling the wood, he seemed very concentrated, but at the same time, his confidence as he handled the knife made me conclude that this is something that he had been doing for years. Like the rest of the stations, it was a sight to see!
The Craft Revival stations at Manila FAME truly made me proud of Filipino craftsmanship. It is evidence of our skill as a people, as well as our attention to quality and detail. I’m sure there are many more crafts around our country to learn about and highlight, and I really do hope they do so in succeeding Manila FAME expos.
I think it would truly be a tragedy if we allowed these traditions to die and be forgotten, as our world becomes more modern and digital by the second. Hand-made crafts are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and if we don’t do something about it, it will disappear along with our culture and identity as a people.
Thank goodness for the efforts of Manila FAME to keep this aspect of Filipino culture alive!