Twenty-five residents, including students and mothers, joined the three-day art workshop conducted by the Arts and Culture Unit of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato in Barangay Danlag, Tampakan, recently.
They showcase their newfound skills in embroidery with home-grown fashion designer and cultural worker Jarred Servano as their mentor.
One participant named Angel got Servano’s attention and won the best embroidery work.
“I hope to master this for a living. I am glad I joined the workshop,” Angel said.
Barangay Danlag is identified as one of the barangays in Tampakan where a few families practice their traditional embroidery called nisef.
Nisef is a traditional embroidery shared by Blaan and Tboli of South Cotabato. They commonly patch this artwork in their clothes. Old folks used abaca thread and combined it with shells. Natural dyes like atsuete, apatot, and knalum bring color to the abaca threads.
With the influence of Chinese traders, Blaans bartered fruits and chickens for threads every time they visited local markets in Dadiangas (General Santos City). Through time, the indigenous people of South Cotabato incorporated beads and sequins in their traditional embroidery.
The Arts and Culture Section of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato increased its capacity to transfer knowledge of traditional arts and secure a profitable market.
Indira Cagaanan, Arts and Culture Coordinator, said the team allocated P75,000 to conduct training of local artisans in Tampakan and Polomolok and the City of Koronadal.
“Our purpose here is to integrate the traditional arts like the Blaan way of embroidery and incorporate it to profitable products like tote bags, throw pillows, shirts, and blouses,” Cagaanan said.
Servano, who is the province’s consultant for arts and culture, specifically in fashion design, appreciated the “rawness” of the designs. The designs come with stories of the community with motifs emerging from natural surroundings.
“I am just here to guide and share the latest trend to make the product more profitable. I will not touch their designs,” Servano said.
Argie Ryan Asaria, Senior Tourism Operations Officer, said the program increases collaboration with fashion designers, bag designers, furniture makers, and home designers.
“We are creating an art and trade hub for our traditional embroidery,” Asaria said.
The Arts and Culture team captures nisef as a craft of home elegance. It would appear in products, like throw pillows, curtains, table-cover, bed cover, table napkins, and many more.