The women loom weaving community of Kalinga creates an alternative livelihood by making Kalinga handwoven face masks to get by this pandemic.
Wanay Baluyan, a youth leader of Kalinga, is one of the many movers of this thriving industry. She is spearheading the promotion of locally made face mask and headband from the Kalinga loom weaving community with I-Kalinga Woven Fabrics Manufacturing, an enterprise she founded in the middle of the pandemic.
“I started this small enterprise because I think it was timely,” she said. “There is a high demand for facemask and using the woven fabric will benefit our loom weaving community as well as the tailors.”
Since nationwide lockdowns were imposed in the country since March where classes and businesses were halted, there was a low demand for school uniforms. This served as an alternative livelihood for them and helped get by amidst this pandemic.
Weaving, community, and culture
When asked about her reason for helping the women loom weaving community in her city, she said that she has always wanted to ignite pride and a sense of identity for their I-Kalinga community amidst discrimination from lowlanders in the past years.
Their community is anchored in their cultural core values—Paniyaw, Ngilin and Vain. For her, these values strengthened her passion to be an advocate for the sustainability of their culture.
Paniyaw governs their relationship to the Creator; Ngilin governs their relationship with the Creation/Nature; and Vain governs their relationship with other people, Wanay explains.
One of the many aspects Wanay is mostly proud of her culture is weaving.
“Weaving has been part of our culture. In the olden days, the I-Kalinga wore clothing that is originally crafted from manual weaving by a group of women, Tapis for women and Ba-ag for men.”
These clothing became part of the cultural identity among the I-Kalingas, and eventually became a thriving industry.
These woven cloths came from various fabrics in different colors, which, when weaved together, creates beautiful designs. Wanay underscores that this is the same with humanity. “We might have different cultures and beliefs, however when we are united there is PEACE.”
How to get your own Kalinga handwoven face masks
At the onset of the lockdown earlier this year, I was tasked to source locally made face masks for the Philippine College of Physicians. As I was browsing through my feed, my college friend, Monique posted a nice pair of cloth face masks with a headband in her Facebook Story. I immediately messaged her about it and she directed me to Wanay, who was very accommodating throughout the process. I bought 12 pairs of face mask and an additional three for personal use. All the designs are undoubtedly beautiful and highlight the rich weaving culture of their community. – Gel