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By: Ragie Mae Taño-Arella


By: Ragie Mae Taño-Arella

Aklan’s handwoven pina once again gains international fame.

Aklan’s piña weaving is gaining global recognition as it is included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This recognition once again acknowledges the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage on a global level. This recognition took place during the 18th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee in Kasane, Botswana, from December 4–9, 2023. During its 18th session, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage added 45 items to the Representative List. The aforementioned committee is a global group of representatives from governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs,) cultural organizations, and other interested parties. Inscription into the list is very important because it helps protect ICH components better and raise public awareness of their importance. In 2003, there was a convention for the protection of intangible cultural heritage. This led to two lists: the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Protection. UNESCO also keeps the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, which makes it easier for people to share their successful safeguarding stories. The inclusion of Aklan’s piña weaving in this list makes it the Philippines’ fifth intangible cultural heritage (ICH) item. The Ifugao hudhud chants and punnuk ritual, the Meranaw Darangen epic, and the Subanen buklog ritual have previously been enlisted. Piña weaving in Aklan is a well-known and vital element of Philippine cultural history. It is well-known for demonstrating the diversity of civilizations and artistic expressions found around the world. The Akeanon people of Aklan have a strong attachment to this craft, which demonstrates their traditional abilities and distinctive style.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, who graced the press conference about the event, is very happy and congratulates those involved in making UNESCO recognize Aklan’s piña weaving. Legarda expressed her pride in the accomplishment, stating that the addition to UNESCO’s Representative List showcases the skill and creativity of the Filipino people worldwide. She hopes that this honor will raise awareness of the importance of piña handloom weaving as well as other vital Filipino cultural treasures. She emphasizes the importance of protecting this intangible richness, recognizing indigenous peoples’ responsibility as protectors of cultural legacy. She hopes this accolade will highlight the significance of piña handloom weaving and other Filipino cultural treasures.

Legarda, renowned for her unwavering dedication to advancing the arts and culture, made a significant contribution to this recognition—particularly by encouraging piña handloom weaving in Aklan. Together with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), she established the School of Living Traditions (SLT), which provided support and help for Filipino artisans; the Enhanced SLT Program; established weaving, natural dye, and

processing centers; and built pineapple farms and fiber extraction facilities in some areas of the country. “I wish that this moment will be historic and lead to the continuation of our journey towards the preservation, care, and celebration of our culture that brings life to our Filipino identity,” she says. Incidentally. the NCCA’s SLT is listed in UNESCO’s Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. The Akeanon and Ati Malindog School of Living Traditions are the beneficiaries of the senator’s sustained efforts to preserve piña handloom weaving in Aklan. They are operated by Raquel Eliserio, who has been mentoring and teaching others about her mastery of the craft since she was 16 years old. Legarda recognized Eliserio’s big contribution to the preservation of piña handloom weaving, especially since she operates three weaving centers in Balete, Kalibo, and Tangalan in Aklan. “My heartfelt gratitude to her for imparting this meticulous skill to children and inspiring over 500 individuals who dedicate their efforts to the preservation of this cultural treasure,” shares Legarda.

Through Senate Bill Number 624, also known as the Linangan ng Likhang Bayan (Institute of National Craft) bill, which seeks to establish an Institute for Living Traditions, the senator has demonstrated a stronger dedication to preserving and advancing Filipino culture. “I will enact this into law to institutionalize it, not just as a program that could die if not funded. When it becomes a law, it will still continue even if we are no longer around,” she declared.

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