Our special series, 'Weaver of the Month', features stories of the dedicated artisans behind the handlooms. Read all articles here.
The RE-STORY-ATION exhibit explores the relationship between craft communities and forest conservation, bringing to the forefront weaving stories from all over the Philippines. Among them, Panublix’s display featured bamboo textiles skillfully handwoven by the weavers of Indigenous Enabel Craft (IEC) in Quezon, Isabela.
At the exhibit opening, we had an insightful conversation with two representatives of the weaving community: Jocelyn Mayao, who is a weaver, and Antonia Mangsat, who handles the marketing and business aspects of IEC.
Antonia Mangsat (left) and Jocelyn Mayao (right) of Indigenous Enabel Craft
Like many weavers, Jocelyn was inspired by her family to pursue the trade. She has been weaving full-time for the past five years since she was introduced to it by Andrea Aswigue, her in-law and the founder of Indigenous Enabel Craft. Andrea started the enterprise in 2017 and from there the weaving community grew as she taught more people.
When asked why she chose to pursue this path, Jocelyn answered that weaving relies on skills—being a weaver doesn’t require you to have a college degree but a willingness to learn. She sees how it provides opportunities for members and helps them thrive.
Focusing on modern weaves and designs
In the Philippines, some woven designs have usage limitations due to special meanings associated with the community’s heritage. For example, you can’t use textiles made for funeral shrouds to create clothing or use t’nalak fabrics for shoes and masks.
On the other hand, Indigenous Enabel Craft creates modern Isabela weaves for anyone to use or wear. This is one characteristic that differentiates their enterprise from others. IEC’s works are free from the above limitations since their textiles are designed for a wide range of uses.
Various weaves produced by IEC. To further strengthen their product line, they have begun protecting their designs through the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
Jocelyn herself is at the forefront of research and development at IEC. At the experimental stage, she tries out weaving with plant-based materials like cotton, silk, and most recently bamboo yarns using her wooden handloom.
Jocelyn led the production of the bamboo textiles displayed at the RE-STORY-ATION exhibit, sharing stories about their weaving process with an audience of designers and textile enthusiasts.
Sharing knowledge with the community
Having no prior knowledge about weaving did not stop Jocelyn from sitting behind the loom and continuously honing her craft. She recalls that all she had in the beginning was a willingness to learn. Now, in addition to being a skilled weaver, she also trains people how to weave to help them earn additional income.
Wooden handlooms at Indigenous Enabel Craft. Jocelyn can weave 8-10 yards of fabric per day depending on the harness type and designs.
Drawing on her experiences both as a weaver and a teacher, Jocelyn shares two pieces of advice for aspiring weavers:
"Nu kabaelak, kabaelam met. / If I can do it, so can you."
Learning how to weave seems hard, especially for those who are just starting their journey. Jocelyn encourages learners to adopt this positive mindset and carry on despite challenges. Antonia adds that weaving is a valuable skill for young people to learn as long as it doesn’t affect their schooling.
"Kung masaya ka sa ginagawa mo, ituloy mo lang. / If you’re happy with what you’re doing, keep going."
She emphasizes the importance of loving what you do and taking pride in your craft as a weaver.
Beyond a source of livelihood, Jocelyn sees weaving as an important part of the community. Her contribution extends beyond the fabric she creates; it's also about creating connections, sharing knowledge, and empowering those around her. The weavers’ shared experiences create camaraderie, provide a sense of belonging, and even serve as a stress reliever.
A vision for the future
As a growing enterprise, IEC hopes to receive more orders and continuous support not just to sustain the business but to reach more aspiring weavers in different regions. So far, they have conducted five trainings in their locality and neighboring areas like Nueva Vizcaya, Apayao, and Ifugao.
Jocelyn envisions a future where handloom weaving becomes a sustainable livelihood. Antonia, too, wishes to see the business grow and establish a building to accommodate their growing number of weavers. She is enthusiastic about exploring the use of more natural materials in their products and offering more services like embroidery and setting up looms.
Weaving digital bridges with Panublix
As an impact-driven sourcing platform, Panublix connects weavers, designers, and brands with tropical fibers, yarns, and textiles. We help artisan enterprises like Indigenous Enabel Craft access materials made from natural fibers like bamboo.
Panublix worked closely with IEC to create innovative textiles using yarns provided by the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) with their aim to expand the use of bamboo in the textile industry. The results of this project are bamboo-cotton blend fabrics which are currently on display at the UP CHE Museum until March 11, 2024.
From left to right: Ms. Jocelyn Mayao (Weaver, Indigenous Enabel Craft), Ms. Kim Quinola (Faculty-in-charge, CHE Costume Museum), Dr. Shirley Guevarra (Dean, UP College of Home Economics), Ms. Antonia Mangsat (Member, Indigenous Enabel Craft) and Asst. Prof. Kristyn Caragay (Assistant Professor, Department of Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design, UP College of Home Economics)
Antonia expressed gratitude for the support received from partner organizations and government agencies, with special mention to DOST-PTRI for introducing them to Panublix.
She says, “I hope our projects prosper so we can have more opportunities to work hand in hand with our partners. Even if we won’t be able to give back support in the same way, we can pass on their assistance to the community.”
Interested in Panublix's Bamboo-Cotton blend fabric? Join our waitlist to be the first to know when it's available. Sign up here.
The RE-STORY-ATION exhibit is open to the public until March 11, 2024 at the UP CHE Museum. We invite everyone to see and feel the bamboo textiles on display. Read more.
Stay tuned for monthly features about our partner artisans! Click here to read all Weaver of the Month stories.