Travels 219: Living the weaving tradition: Kumala!

When my friends Paula Peralejo and Charlie Fernandez told me days ago about the mat weavers in Kumalarang, I was baffled what it was for I have never been to one before. I saw weaving communities like the ones I recently been to, the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City but something similar, in the province is one that raises interests on me. I am ecstatic to go so after an early dawn lake cruise at the Alindahaw Lakeview Resort, we went to Kumalarang to personally see the mat weaving under the School of Living Traditions as recognized by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

In my previous travels, I never contemplated pursuing links with the NCCA for authentic crafts and traditions but Paula Peralejo did. We went to the municipality which is around 45 minutes drive from Pagadian City to meet the one representing SLT in the municipality. After briefly meeting him at the terminal, we speed off to the area where the mats are laid for us to see and I am rather impressed.

The mats as they are weaved represent years and decades of traditions and family legacy. The designs represent culture and tradition, inherent in the community of Subanens in Kumalarang and they all are proud front-runners of the living tradition. It was observed (though, not in this visit of ours) that a member of the family, one master weaver sings a lullaby while she weaves through the mat. She express emotions, traditions, aspirations, norms, creativity and craftsmanship through her mat and the mats symbolizes the greatness of spirit of one community bounded and tied closely by the weaving tradition.

Notwithstanding that a night prior to our visit, the municipality was hit with floods as a result of heavy rains, the weavers met us with openness and jolly hearts and disposition. They all welcome us into their humble weaving place beside their abode. This particular trip with Paula and Charlie is an eye-opener for me.

The mats as I saw them are made up of raw materials sourced locally, dyed and then air-dried. The painstakingly longer days and nights weaving it into perfection is what makes it authentic and the tradition is passed on to new and younger generations. We met the pretty lass who weaves through her tender years and serves as as an apprentice to the master weavers. I saw beauty, both in craftsmanship and spirit, something I have never been in my lifetime until this most recent trip to Kumalarang.

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Categories: Kumalarang, Travels, Zamboanga del Sur | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “Travels 219: Living the weaving tradition: Kumala!

  1. Weaving the tradition — this is great! a real Mindanaoan art and pride!
    I think its about time to capitalize on these crafts (like Mindanao gongs, etc.) because Filipino crafts and art pieces are relatively priced higher in SEA Nations than any country in the world.
    Uniquely Mindanaoan! 🙂

    • yes it is. We have to support our own Mindanaoan cultural heritage and by so doing, we invest not of our present but on the continuity of which that sustains our own cultural diversity and pride throughout the years. Salamat sa comment mo po. 🙂

  2. All I can remember about this is our neighbor. at the break of dawn she begins weaving all the mats and hats ordered. I can still recall that she taught us how to make one 🙂

    Nice photos 🙂

  3. how cool is this, we had one of this when we are young

  4. Ganyan katalented ang pinoy. Kinamay lang… Galing! Ang hirap kayan nyan… 🙂

  5. those are really, very colorful mats. i hope the tradition continues as it really shows how creative the Filipinos are.

    • Thanks Gladys and you need not worry because the place we went to is supported by the National Commission on Culture and Arts and thus called School of Living Traditions. Naturally, the masterweavers passes on to the next generation the legacy of mat weaving although one aspect (the singing while weaving) has not been effectively passed on but the legacy remains the same.

  6. beautifully made, i always buy several of them plus the malongs when we go Zamboanga 🙂

  7. great tradition .these pople are very creative . reminds me of the mats that we used to sleep on back home at my grandma’s.

  8. Ganda ng photos dok, sipag+tyaga+artistic hand … ATTENTION:Tesda/Dti

  9. This is one of the few things we Filipinos are proud about. Our arts and culture should be enriched more even though our new born artists grasps modern and foreign designs to incorporate on their own concepts. Unique yet traditional and embodies local tradition in every product they make.

    • Thanks po. The School of Living Traditions is being recognized by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts so that in a way enriches it and ensures that this laudable practice is sustained and pass on to the next generation

  10. This reminds me of my younger days, we used to sleep on colorful hand-woven mats. Wala pa kaming kutson dati hehehe

    • Kami rin. I guess every house in Mindanao get to own mats for the basic utility of sleeping hehe. I am used to sleeping in those mats but now, mas preferred ko pa sya ipang-display sa house hehe. Salamat sa comment po Claire.

  11. Inviting. very cultural ang dating. mga ito ang hilig kong i feature sana kaso I don’t have much post about these culture and tradition-linked industries.

  12. Oh Yay you went to Zamboanga City! 😀 Weaving indeed is an art. Hirap niyan no!

  13. Nice clicks! I hope I can go to Zambo soon…

  14. Wow, I know how hard making mats like that is! My aunt tried to teach me and I couldn’t make things come out well. But it was cool thing to learn.

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