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04 februari 2008 03:04

Weaving the history and culture of Philippines

Weaving the history and culture of Philippines

Muscat — A visit to the Philippines pavilion is a must to those interested in traditional artefacts. It is located at the International Crafts Market in Qurum Natural Park.

A riot of colours greet you in each stall and all the products and items here are made from natural materials like grass, palm leaves, sea shells and pearls.

You have the Buri (palm leaf) products in the form of attractive handbags, ladies purses and mobile covers weaved from grass. The necklaces are made of natural pearls and wall clocks from laminated seashells.

You cannot miss the young lady sitting in one of stalls skilfully weaving a bag or a purse using the palm leaves and grass. You could order one to suit your taste and colour.

Another interesting thing is that most of these items are from Mindanao in the southern Philippines, a Filipino Muslim bastion.

Abdullah bin Abbas bin Ahmed, chairman of Muscat Municipality who visited the Philippine pavilion expressed great interest in the products, especially the hand-woven Buri products.

Siti Shaheen Omar, the head of the Philippines delegation, which is holding this exhibition at the Muscat Festival 2008, explained that they had decided to bring more products from the southern Philippines because they wanted to show the people of Oman that there are lots of Muslims in the Philippines too.

“What are included in our display are different bags and other assorted items from the northern Philippines, and from the south we have the Filipino Muslim decorations which are used on special occasions like weddings and big events,” Siti said.

“A lot of products are from Mindanao island in southern Philippines,” Siti informed.

In the first booth of the Philippines pavilion is the Kulintang, a Filipino Muslim traditional musical instrument used during special occasions and events to extend a warm welcome to the people.

Said Siti: “I think that most people do not know that there is a sizeable Muslim community in the Philippines, so we want them to know about Filipino Muslim traditions and customs.”

Nothing is synthetic here, says Siti. Even the pearls are natural.

“We have the necklaces made from fresh water pearls. Divers living in Tawi Tawi, the southern most part of the Philippines, are having been doing this job since their birth but they are not professionals. They live in stilt houses over the water,” she disclosed.

The Buri weaving industry in the Philippines is one of the traditional industries literally woven around the history and culture of the region as it helped the poor inhabitants during the days of the great depression. But the production slowed down in the following years because of better quality products that came into the market.

In 2004, the Municipality of Mauban joined WOW Philippines: Wealth of Wonders of Southern Tagalog in Intramuros, Manila and revived this art.

Together with a programme on the best of local talent and artistry, Mauban showcased the `Lalas a Bote`, where the craftsmanship and skill of Mauban weavers were shown in WOW Philippines Best of Crafts` to visitors every Saturday for almost two months.

The colourful woven mats and hats of Mauban decorated the booth of Quezon Province in Clampshell where a local lady weaver (Evelyn Villamayor) did regular demonstrations of actual weaving.

The event not only served as a national product exposure for Mauban`s Nilala but also paved the way for the exploration of a national and international marketing network for the weaving industry.

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