Women and the other girls, as young as 10 years old, at Barangay Lamlahak in the mountain-side community of Lake Sebu were employed to complete the traditional embroidery works for the Monday uniforms of at least 700 government employees of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato. COVID pandemic becomes a beautiful opportunity for this tboli community.
Lawyer Renette Bergado, Provincial Administrator, said local artisans like nsif embroiderers were affected when orders slowed down because of pandemic.
“The idea is to incorporate indigenous arts in the uniforms and keep the South Cotabato pride while giving livelihood to Tboli women during this pandemic,” Bergado said.
The Provincial Government sought the creative assistance of fashion designer Jared Servano to design the uniform.
Known for his culturally-rooted artistry, Servano collaborated his works with nsif workers of Lake Sebu specifically the women members of COWHED, a local tradecraft store in Lake Sebu that hires women as weavers, beaders and emboiderers.
This was implemented last year, but there was difficulty during the delivery of materials because of the pandemic, Servano said.
“My goal here is to make our employees as walking ads showcasing the handwoven works of our indigenous people,” Servano said.
Servano, who was Runway Philippines second placer, used gray color as the basic color of the uniform to match every skin tone.
Each nsif embroiderer receives P470 for every completed work. The provincial government allocated at least P400, 000 for the embroidery work.
The fabric is part of the P1000 worth complete set of uniform for every employee. However, materials used for nsif like thread were provided by the local artisans.
The design is derived from tnalak design called banggala. It is known as a pattern which means “man in the house.”
Argie Ryan Asaria, Senior Tourism Officer, said the integration of culture in governance like putting it in uniform is a mature leadership.
“This is part of South Cotabato’s branding as the Land of the Dreamweavers,” Asaria said, stressing that an ordinance was approved in South Cotabato, recognizing the province as the Land of the Dreamweavers.
Since South Cotabato is home to two Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan awardees, Lang Dulay (tboli) and Fu Yabing ( blaan), the Provincial Government uses tnalak and tabih designs in all of its communication letters, designs of government vehicles like the tourism bus and LGUs giveaways.
Monday uniforms are set to be distributed this week.