“Through this hub, the relationship between the designer, the weaver, and the creatives are built.”
The Bayo Foundation, the Filipino fashion brand’s initiative to further their commitment in using fashion as a vehicle for social good, recently unveiled the HARVEST CommUNITY Hub. Located in Baguio’s quintessential Botanical Gardens, the hub aims to forge a critical collaboration between weavers, designers, makers, and communities through time-honored Filipino crafts.
Through the creation of Harvest Creative CommUNITY Hub, it becomes a space to connect local makers to those who are interested to learn about traditional Filipino folk arts, with the intention of preserving, nurturing, and uplifting the craft. In there, the work of handweaving, basketry, and hand-carving is championed and kept alive by Cordilleran artisans and artisans-in-the-making, from generations old and new.
One such member of the hub is Lola Antonia. Born and raised in Abra, she has been weaving since 1982, specializing in the weaving styles of Abra, Bontoc, and Mountain Province.
“Bawat Cordillera province may sariling disenyo. Tinuturo namin ito sa mga bagong weavers sa Harvest CommUNITY Hub,” Antonia says. Learning under her wing in the hub is her granddaughter Maria Leah Degyawi Denga-ey. When asked about what motivates her to learn the art of weaving she says it is for tradition and culture. “Para matanim na sa amin ang art of weaving, generation to generation.”
Just recently, Filipino fashion houses Zarah Juan, Harvic Dominguez, Vin Orias, and Valdes Designs collaborated with the weavers of the hub, integrating traditional Cordilleran weaves with contemporary designs and innovative patterns–dubbing their collective fashion show as “Culture Couture.”
“This project has a future. So far, it’s really about the relationship between all of us involved, and what’s important is the weavers talaga,” says designer Harvic Dominguez.
He says the weavers are very much involved in the production and design of a garment. “It’s like we’re all learning from this process,” Dominguez explains. “Through this hub, the relationship between the designer, the weaver, and the creatives are built.”
The name of the hub is actually short for ‘Heritage and Artisanship Reimagined as a Vehicle for Economic Growth, Sustainability, and Technology’, while ‘UNITY’ is highlighted to emphasize the hub being a place for Filipinos to connect through craft, with a shared history, heritage, and identity.
The Bayo Foundation’s principal campaign is geared toward their #JourneytoZero, transforming Bayo’s clothing production chain from linear to circular, creating no waste in the process. Apart from the community hub, the foundation has other projects like “Weaving in the City,” an initiative with the City of Pasig aiming to introduce handweaving as a livelihood opportunities for people living in urban areas; and the “Community Partner Program” a collaboration of communities in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Bayo to develop locally-crafted products.
Anna Lagon, Bayo’s co-CEO and the Bayo Foundation’s executive director, shares that it’s always been in their thrust to achieve their journey to zero.
“That is the concept we’re trying to follow. So part of that is to build communities like the HARVEST Creative CommUNITY Hub so that we can really touch on the grassroot level and develop the creative side of the community,” she says.
Marie Venus Tan, one of the Bayo Foundation’s Board of Directors and former Department of Tourism’s Regional Director for the Cordilleras and Former Chief Operating Officer of the DOT Tourism Promotions Board, adds that creativity now becomes a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability, and poverty alleviation.
“What we’re doing is providing opportunities for them, opening pathways […] It’s more on capacity building,” Anna adds. She cites the various ways Bayo researched and connected with Cordilleran women to build and launch the hub.
Activities include engaging with the culture, the farmers, the weavers, and doing product development with them.
“I would do workshops and show them how to create a moodboard, teach them how to research. I share with them what I know in Bayo and my process with our team… how to develop a collection, how to develop a story for their products,” she continues. “It’s so amazing to see how things evolve from a simple rug, to something you see on the runway.”
Photos courtesy of Bayo. Model: Krishnah Gravidez. Photographed by Artu Nepomuceno.