We’ve moved: www.one-weave.org

After several long months of putting together research, information and design, I’ve finally put up the official website for One Weave, One Dream. Thank you for all your support and your valuable time in reading all my posts! Please visit our NEW online presence at: www.one-weave.org

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Tnalak: One Weave, One Dream

This MFA Graphic Design thesis project is about providing a livelihood opportunity for T’boli women, who are part of an indigenous group of people living in poverty within a remote area in Southern Philippines.
My aim is to stimulate the waning production of the T’nalak, which is a traditional cloth that the women weave, by making it more marketable and accessible to the outside world, turning a traditional endeavor into a self-sustaining enterprise. This will empower the women by allowing them to provide their family with additional income as well as help safeguard their age-old tradition, which is an integral aspect of Philippine culture.

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Common Threads: Amy Williams

Currently I’ve been working on the business and marketing side of my organization and it’s only natural that I speak to someone in the industry that knows all the ins and outs of the textile world. This week, I’ve spoken to Amy Williams, Fashion Design Chair of CCA (California College of the Arts) here in the Bay area, about the delicate nature of working with artisans from around the world as well as the intricacies of what goes on in the background.

“Theres a huge desire to bring good work to good people but there’s a huge ocean between what’s reality and what’s a possibility. You have to be really careful with that sort of thing.”

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Summer Madness

I’m about in the middle of the summer semester and my have all these weeks flown by! I’ve been busy these past few days just archiving the research from my field work as well as tackling new phases of my thesis.

I’m currently working on nailing down all the nitty gritty details of my organization from the structural and business aspect of what I feel it should be. My summer adviser, Michele Ronsen, has been wonderful in helping me to straighten my thoughts and to putting my corporate hat on. I’m hoping to get a book of One Weave done (or at least the copy!) in less than a month and hopefully some ideas for the exhibit.

On the other side of things, I’ve also got my hands full sketching out possible directions for One Weave’s logo. It’s a bit of a challenge but some preliminary mind maps and ideas are helping it to move along. I’m hoping to have this also nailed down by the end of the summer semester so that I can move on to the bigger pieces that need to be knocked out.

I know this timeline is pretty ambitious, but right now I just need to focus and keep my head moving in the right direction. Back to work…

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Common Threads: Dr.Norma Respicio

During my trip back home I was able to interview Dr. Norma Respicio, a professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman and textile scholar, on my thesis.

Being immersed in the field of anthropology and textile studies from numbers of years, I felt that she would be a great resource for this project. In fact, I had contacted her after coming across a paper she made for the 2nd ASEAN Textile Symposium in 2009 entitled: “The Philippines Confronts Contemporary Issues in Traditional Textile Production.” Here, she was able to highlight some challenges that the t’nalak, as well as other Philippine textiles, were facing. A few days later, she answered back and we scheduled an interview about a month before I was to return to Manila.

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Ock Pop Tok: Textiles from Lao


Last Saturday, The Textile Arts Council organized a lecture featuring the work of Ock Pop Tok, a cooperative in Luang Prabang, Lao. Founded in 2000 by Joanna Smith and Veomanee Duangdala, Ock Pop Tok is aimed at empowering local artisans while at the same time providing visitors an opportunity to learn about the unique textiles from the region.

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The Meaning of “Field Work”

In planning for my trip to Lake Sebu, I wanted to get as much first-hand research as I could by interviewing the t’nalak weavers themselves. Since I speak two different dialects, none of which are T’boli, I decided to take a cue from IDEO’s HCD Toolkit.

All in all, it was definitely rewarding and successful and of course heart-warming to hear what goes on in the lives of these extraordinary women and their families.

Before leaving for Manila, I reviewed the Toolkit as well as the Field Guide several times in order to see which modules were appropriate to my research. I knew that my stay there would be short and if I were to research on the t’nalak production as well as listen to the stories of these weaver’s lives and understand the struggles they would go through, I knew I had to plan wisely. Of the various modules, I picked out two of them which I though were the most relevant to my thesis – the aspiration cards as well as the resource flow sheet.

With these two exercises, I was be able to learn more about the women’s dreams and values as well as their sources of income and the items or priorities that they would spend it on. All in all, it was definitely rewarding and successful and of course heart-warming to hear what goes on in the lives of these extraordinary women and their families.

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Day Three: Commercial Weavers at Klubi

Banner inside Klowil; bundles of raw abaca hanging on a pole

Recap: Thursday, June 9th

Kulbi was a quick ride from Lemkwa but when we got there, we couldn’t find much weaving being done. There were only about two weavers that were out. Instead, we were able to go up to see Klowil, a cooperative that sold commercial t’nalak as well as bundles of raw abaca.

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Day Three: Yab Man and Subi Nalon at Lemkwa

Enjoying the serene lake after the marvelous sunrise that greeted us at our new resort, Monte Cielo

Recap: Thursday, June 9th

On our last day to visit the weavers, we needed to wake up earlier than usual because the two weaving villages we would be traveling to were a long ride from the resort. We would have to bring food with us because it would be too out of the way to look for a bite to eat in between. By this time we had moved to another resort, Monte Cielo, (in preparation for my dad’s arrival who was to join us on the last day) and luckily the gracious owner, Ms. Mayette, helped arrange our food to be prepared for early the next day. Once more we hopped unto our skylabs with our gear, backpacks and packed lunch as we drove off to visit our first stop at Lemkwa.

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Day Two: Barbara Ofong at Tablo

Smiling for the camera with Barbara Ofong and her wonderful family

Recap: Wednesday, June 8th

On our second day, we woke up before sunrise and rode off to visit Tablo. Since this was quite a ride from our resort, we had to get up early to be back in time for lunch. Here we were to meet the dear Barbara Ofong and what we would later discover to be her simple yet humble “production house” that would touch us in more ways than the four of us could ever imagine.

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Day One: Lang Dulay at T’bong

Recap: (continued) Tuesday, June 7th

After a brief stopover at Lake Sebu’s tourism center to register and sign in, we arrived at T’bong - home to National Living Treasure, Lang Dulay.

Going up to the long house; Lang Dulay with her tying frame and completed t'nalak rolls

Awarded in 1998 by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Lang Dulay was given the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) or National Living Treasure award as a recognition of her mastery in t’nalak weaving. (To be able to receive this award, the nominee has to fit the necessary qualifications as well as undergo a long screening process by a number of experts in the field of traditional folk arts.)

After getting down from our skylabs, we walked up a small hill to Lang Dulay’s long house. (The long house is a traditional T’boli house that is around 45 feet or more in length and propped up on stilts. It is suitable for weaving the t’nalak because of its length and the length of the fabric.) Here, we were greeted by several weavers and some members of their family busily working on various stages of t’nalak production. At the center was Lang Dulay, dressed up in the traditional T’boli attire, working quietly on the tying frame. She agreed to speak to me, and with the help of my tour guide and interpreter, Christy, I began a long and interesting morning with her and the other women.

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