Zonta Club Mandaluyong Volunteered to Preserve the Heritage of Blaan

The Zonta Club of Mandaluyong-San Juan 2, in coordination with Health Futures Foundation, visited Blaan women of Landan, Polomoloc, South Cotabato, to support the art of Blaan hand embroidery called ansif which is now a dying tradition.

Many of the Blaan tradition, including their exquisite embroidery and weaving, has been left to the side and has not been handed down to the next generation. ZMSJ2 met with NONAGENARIANS (90 to 99 years of age) and CENTENARIANS (100 -108 years ) who are the holders of the knowledge and skills of this treasured craft.

Fu Yabing, the oldest living master weaver of Tabih, the traditional Blaan fabric made from abaca, was given a “recognition by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as National Living Treasures for her commitment to safeguarding and promotion of the Blaan ‘mabal tabih’ (ikat weaving) tradition. Four other Centenarians weavers are National awardees, with Marhta Ante Ancheta as one of Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda Awardees ( 10 Noble Old Women Awardees). 

However, for more than 15 years most of the old indigenous women have not been able to practice their skills to become innovative in the creation of the weaving art designs. The reasons for these were the limited financial capacity and outskirts support to market their products. As a result, they are also not able to pass on to the next generation and young girls their knowledge to develop the skills in hand embroidery or weaving.

Because of this, Zonta Club Mandaluyong - San Juan 2 in line with Centennial Celebration supports the weaving livelihood program of the Blaan Tribe in Polomoloc, South Cotabato. ZMSJ2 donated 3 heavy duty sewing machines for embroidery edging and straight design, with threads and sewing materials. Also, ZMSJ2 will sponsor a 3-month training program for women and young girls by anise master-embroiderers as mentors.

The Tribal elders and mentors and BLGU representative, the Health Futures Foundation, Inc.(HFI), and the Ansif mentors will monitor the project progress. All participants will be given a certificate of completion after proper skills are acquired to qualify as weavers.