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.