Sunday, 19 July 2015

TUBUK: Heritage Needlecraft of Iloilo

"Handicrafts are like mirrors of our soul. They do not only anchor us who we are and where we were coming from but also tell stories of people who make them from very far away land."

The exquisite century old crafts of Bukidnon,Iloilo hinterlands, Panay Island. ( PHOTOS by ARES POCO BALCARSE) 

When I did a little research on the net about Tubuk, there is none. Perhaps this one of the reasons why I have been pursuing to write this on my blog so knowledge about this crafts will be sustained in the future. The first time I heard about this craft was from Mr. Bombette Marin, of  the Iloilo Provincial Tourism Office who gave me some pictures from his archives.


I have been looking for a fuller collection to photograph. Eureka, I found one at the Sta. Barbara Centennial Museum when my high school classmate Irene Magallon,who is the museum director, merged our ideas to drum up the museum in time for the recently held Independence Day celebration of the Republic of the Philippines  held in the historic town, the first outside of Luzon Island.  I curated the museum with Ares Balcarse as volunteers and the first we did was the Tubuk because we thought this is really a unique craft from Iloilo unknown to many. It is a permanent exhibit at the museum, one reason why one should visit it. 


Tubuk is a century old needlecrafts of the hinterlands of Iloilo in Panay which is located centrally in the island. This artisanal techniques are coming from tribal groups of Calinog and Lambunao who live orginally in the uplands. Known as the Budkinons, or in Ilonggo, "from the mountains" or we say in our vernacular "taga-bukid." They speak "Kinaray-a"-- a unique dialect in Iloilo and Antique.They are now living in the mainstream communities of these towns.

The Bukidnons are unique fair skinned Ilonggo indigenous group whose history is as old as when the ten Bornean Datus ( chieftains) arrived in Iloilo before the Spanish time. They are famous for its rich cultural oral tradition "Binaog" ( way of the hawks") including the unbridged version of " Hinilawod" epic chat recited from memory from their ancestors for as long as one week. It is a living literary form until today.

The word Bukidnon should not be mistaken as the Bukidnon in Mindanao as a place. Although, to my mind, it seems there is a connection with the Bukidnon of Mindanao to Bukidnon of Iloilo because as early as 1950's many Ilonggos migrated to Mindanao to acquire lands many of whom now are the landed class in Mindanao. There are Ilonggo speaking communities in Mindanao because of this migration. The crafts similarity though is with the  T'boli tribe in Lake Sebu than Bukidnon which I assume  may have been acquired through migration. Thus, the Tubuk has very close similarity to the needlecrafts of T'boli tribe in Mindanao, the latter more intricate.   

My work in the folk art or tribal needle  crafts in Colombia, Peru and other Latin American countries, Asia and Africa, as well as the most exquisite ones in India,  dating as early as before Christ,  for over a decade and a half  has always been fascinating in terms of similarities in motifs, colors. techniques, usage  and spirit. I will do a full comparative analysis on my  blog soon. 

Tribal patterns of Tubuk is a range of nature-inspired motifs such as "Bulak Labog" ("bulak" means flowers, rounded  in shape) or "Bulak Putik" ( triangular flower) , "Matang Punay" ( imitating the eyes of the bird Punay--a wild fruit eating doves, "Binalagon" meaning vine like stitches, "Tugi-tugi" ( zig zag forms), "Girigiti" (saw line stitches), "Binunghay" ( small fern shapes usually repetitive), "Enagsam" ( bigger fern shapes)  and "Linantay" like lines of running stitches--perhaps where the local children's rural game of crossing the line called "lantay-lantay" came from.
Details show the rounded flower called Bulak Labog  and triangular flower called Bulak Putik.
The simple blouse is usually white in base of cotton and typically bordered on the seamlines.  Red base is also common. 
The patterns are normally symmetrical. 
Paired with traditional "Patadyong" in traditional colors compliment the colorways of Tubuk. 
Bulak Putik motif with ferns " Enagsam" ( big ones) and "Binunghay" ( small ferns).
Detail of sleeves with Bulak Labog and |Sinalapid in the stem.

I am a native of Panay island and as a designer  on sustainable arts and culture including our traditional lifestyle, it is a calling for  a socially responsible entrepreneur to preserve what is our own. "Tubuk" will be taught to young design-led craft designers  as an artisanal crafts in my school at the Escuela Artesanias de Filipinas i-Fashion Academy where its laboratories will be in communities rather confined in the campus. I-Fashion means International Fashion Academy for Specific Home-grown Industries and On-line Networks where  geographically indicated arts and crafts in the communities will be linked on-line by digital media and computer aided design for young people to relate to our traditional, usually rural,  crafts. On-line computers will be installed in community livelihood centers ( design laboratories) connected to the school ( design studios). This will sustain the crafts within the community yet the urban centers will preserve it and city dwellers will eventually buy and use them. 

The opening fashion show  to formally open the i-Fashion school sometime soon will feature pure traditional Tubuk techniques used in contemporary apparel, footwear and accessories. Watch for it. It will coincide with the launch of a my book on Hablon---Iloilo's traditional handloom textile. 

PJ Aranador is the youngest recipient of the Most Outstanding Professional Awards for Arts and Letters at the pre-100th year anniversary of the University of the Philippines . He is also the  current  design and product development consultant of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. He is a pioneer of the junior Iloilo Cultural Research Foundation, Inc. and a recipient of the Iloilo Governor Defensor  Award on Most Outstanding Ilonggo in the field of Fashion and Design. PJ is a founding member of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines.  





The traditional style of "horror vacui" ( afraid of empty spaces) is evident here where the blouse is fully embellished with Tubuk.



Binunghay is small ferns motif.
Breathtaking techniques 

Neckline with ferns motif.
The Exhibitions in Sta. Barbara Centennial Museum 

A typical blouse in traditional red color.

Details

Traditional nature theme in traditional colors










Some belts

Borders

Myself styling the exhibit

Ares Balcarse, a native of the neighboring town of Sta. Barbara, who assisted me

With Irene Magallon, museum director ( to my left). 

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