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Forty-eight women loom weavers from across the region attended two separate runs of trainings on loom weaving conducted by DTI Region 02 under its OTOP Next Gen Program in March. 

The first run was conducted from March 18 to 22 in Sta Fe, Nueva Vizcaya where twenty weavers from the Province and two each from Quirino Province and Santiago City attended.  The second run was conducted March 25 to 29 in Sta Teresita, Cagayan with twenty participants from Cagayan and four from Isabela.

Ms. Florence Ao-wat, owner and manager of Kalinga Indigenous Weavers Association served as trainer and resource person.  She demonstrated the basic and advance skills of weaving and shared the best practices of her company.  In addition, she also lectured on pricing their work and gave suggestions on product ideas incorporating the available raw materials in the locality like the “bakong” in Sta Teresita.

Weaving is one of the oldest local industries practiced widely by the indigenous tribes of the Philippines and forms their cultural heritage and traditions.  The art of hand loom weaving is being practiced now only by a number of elderly tribal women.  The younger generations have not taken as much interest in the continuation of this art form.  Lately however, there has been an increased market demand and interest for custom made hand loom woven products. And this did not escape the notice of DTI Region 02.

As early as 2009, the Department of Trade and Industry Region 02 endeavored to promote cultural enterprises and creative industries that are inherent to the region’s indigenous communities through the establishment of a loom weaving center in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya particularly in the town of Kayapa.  The loom weaving center soon became one of the first Shared Service Facility (SSF) Project on loom weaving.  To date, eleven Shared Service Facility (SSF) Projects on loom weaving have been set up in Region 02 in all of its five provinces from Batanes to Nueva Vizcaya.

The Department also intensified its assistance to the industry by extending services through market promotion and product development under the OTOP Next Gen Program.  Its aim -  to improve product quality, develop new product lines and increase market competitiveness.  The trainings conducted in March were in response to the assessment and evaluation made by DTI Region 02’s SME Development Division.  The need for improved quality, enhanced weaving skills to execute news designs and complex patterns as well as to add knowledge on new trends in design and material manipulation were identified by the assessment and evaluation team.  The trainings also introduced new designs or textile patterns and implementing quality control.

The loom weaving women of DTI’s SSF Projects feel fulfilled as they are not only making a living out of their newly acquired skills but are also living their tradition through the art of loom weaving.

Senator Loren Legarda said it succinctly: “Traditional textiles tell a lot of stories.  In every handwoven textile is a weaver’s passion for her craft and respect for heritage. Although textile is tangible, weaving is an intangible heritage that would cease to exist if not preserved and promoted.”