Davao del Sur - Practically, since she was born, *Salinta Monon had watched
her mother's nimble hands glide over the loom, weaving traditional Bagobo
textiles. At 12, she presented herself to her mother, to be taught how to
weave herself. Her ardent desire to excel in the art of her ancestors enable
her to learn quickly. She developed a keen eye for the traditional designs,
and now, at the age of 65, she can identify the design as well as the author
of a woven piece just by a glance.
All her life she has woven continuously, through her marriage and six
pregnancies, and even after her husband's death 20 years ago. She and her
sister are the only remaining Bagobo weavers in her community.
husband paid her parents a higher bride price because of her weaving skills.
However, he left all the abaca gathering and stripping to her. Instead, he
concentrated on their making small farm holdings productive. Life was such
that she was obliged to help out in the farm, often putting her own work
aside to make the planting got done and the harvest were brought in. When
her husband died, she was left alone with a farm and six children, but she
continued with her weaving, as a source of income as well as pride.
Salinta has built a solid reputation for the quality of her work and the
intricacies of her designs. There is a continuing demand for her fabrics.
She has reached the stage where she was is able to set her own price, but
she admits to a nagging sense of being underpaid nevertheless, considering
the the time she puts into her work. It takes her three to four months to
finish a fabric 3.5 m x 42 cm in length, or one abaca tube skirt per month.
She used to wear the traditional hand-woven tube skirt of the Bagobo, of
which the sinukla and the bandira were two of the most common
types until the market began to be flooded with cheap machine-made fabrics.
Now, she wears her traditional clothes only on special occasions. Of the
many designs she wears, her favorite is the binuwaya (crocodile),
which is one of the hardest to make.
Today, she has her son to strip the abaca fibers for her Abaca was once
plentiful in their area, but an unexpected scourge has devastated the wild
abaca crops. Now, they are starting to domesticate their own plants to keep
up with the steady demand for the fabric.
When she has work to finish, Salinta isolate herself from her family to
ensure privacy and concentration in her art. At the moment, she does her
weaving in her home, but she wants nothing better than to build a structure
just for weaving, a place exclusively for the use of weavers. She looks
forward to teaching young wives in her community the art of weaving for
despite the increasing pressures of modern society, Bagobo women are still
interested in learning the art.
Few women in the 1990s have the inclination, patience or perseverance to
undergo the strict training and discipline to become a weaver. Salinta
maintains a pragmatic attitude towards the fact that she and her younger
sister may be the only Bagobo weavers left, the last links to a colorful
tradition among their ancestors that had endured throughout the Spanish and
American colonization periods, and survived with a certain vigor up to the
"If someone wants to learn, then I am willing to teach," she says. "If there
is none...," she shrugs off the thought.
*Salinta Monon is a Gawad
sa Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee.