Cover 'Manlilikha ng Bayan' Magdalena Gamayo on her loom in Pinili, Ilocos Norte.

The British Council announces the launch of Weaving Futures — Cultural exchanges and design collaboration in partnership with Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women's University

The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts, presided by His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales, launches Weaving Futures — Cultural exchanges and design collaboration. In partnership with Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women's University, this action research project will pave a way for artisans and makers in the UK and the Philippines to collaborate.

"At The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, we offer a wide range of education programmes which help ensure that traditional arts and skills are preserved and are able to continue to enrich our changing world. We are delighted to partner with The British Council, the Enrique Zobel Foundation and Philippine Women’s University on this new cultural exchange and collaborative design project to support historic weaving communities in the Philippines," Dr Khaled Azzam, director of The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts says.

Coming together for this research project are weaving communities in the Philippines like the Kiyyangan Weavers Association in Kiyangan, Ifugao; the Kulibanbang Weavers Association of Bontoc women now residing in La Trinidad, Benguet; the Serukadang Menuvu Tribal Organization of Bukidnon; and the Sunrise Weaving Association of Ibaan, Batangas.

Read more: Weaving the Threads of Filipino Heritage

These communities will participate in a series of consultations which will be held to map the communities' cultural heritage, relationship with nature, indigenous knowledge and vision for the future. The result will be a new design process that will help widen knowledge and perspectives on artisanship and design and will also help renew weaving practices.

"The industry’s potential may still be unlocked; and for that, we need to develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by artisans, mostly women and mothers, and how they are impacted by global crises like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic," Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio, Country Director of the British Council in the Philippines, shares. "I am delighted that, through this project, we are able to support meaningful collaborations that celebrate culture and innovation. This is the essence of our mission as a cultural relations organisation."

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Apparently, Weaving Futures is a response to findings of a British Council study entitled Crafting futures — sustaining handloom weaving in the Philippines. The craft was described as a "sunset industry" which is quite alarming.

But Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio, Country Director of the British Council in the Philippines, remains hopeful. "The industry’s potential may still be unlocked; and for that we need to develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by artisans, mostly women and mothers, and how they are impacted by global crises like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic".

He adds, "I am delighted that, through this project, we are able to support meaningful collaborations that celebrate culture and innovation. This is the essence of our mission as a cultural relations organisation".


'Weaving Futures' will launch digitally on 16 June. The British Council’s Pilar Aramayo-Prudencio and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, Dr Khaled Azzam, among others, will be at the launch event. It will also be supported by partners on the ground who will ensure that participating groups in rural areas can easily access and partake in the project.

For inquiries, please contact arts@britishcouncil.org.ph

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