Weaving a future for Davao del Sur tribe

VIVENCIA Mamites is a craftswoman and an esteemed weaver of inabal, the traditional fabric of the Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribe in the Philippines.

She is the eldest of five siblings and grew up living in the province of Davao del Sur during difficult economic times.  She is the mother of three children. However, as a young woman, Vivencia was auspiciously chosen to be one of the five tribeswomen who was handed down the age-old technique and knowledge of making inabal.

Inabal is a traditional ancestral cloth of her tribe with a special weave. This cloth was customarily used as the garment for ancestral royalty. Vivencia learned inabal weaving from a national folkmaster craftswoman, Salinta Monon, identified and awarded for her legendary weaves by the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA). What is beautiful and intangible is usually handed down from one generation to the next. Vivencia’s grandmother also taught Vivencia the special weave, the designs of which were usually the grandmother’s interpretations of the heavenly skies.

Carefully and industriously, Vivencia recreated a total of 11 inabal handwoven designs. Unfortunately, one can only sell so much when constantly selling in the same locale. No new buyers and markets ever saw her beautiful textiles. She hoped her goods would be discovered by new eyes in trade shows, which were unfortunately scheduled sporadically and were too few and far between.

However, Vivencia’s gentle, almost shy demeanor, soft dark eyes and hesitant smile disguised an attitude of patience and perseverance.

Vivencia’s life has since changed when she was taken under the wing of the GREAT Women Project in its first phase, and now ongoing in Phase 2 (until 2020). GREAT Women is a development and enterprise platform in partnership with the governments of the Philippines and Canada with private-sector support.

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Turning Points 2018