Estelita Bantilan

estelita bantilan
Estelita Bantilan | @nccaofficial

Congratulations on the 82nd birthday (October 17, 1940) of Manlilikha ng Bayan Estelita Bantilan!

Estelita Bantilan
Mat Weaver
Malapatan, Sarangani

Like all mat weavers, Estelita’s entire body is her loom. The thin strips of pandanus Romblon emerge matrix through her deft fingers performing personal rhythm, the beat seemingly guided by her eyes. The unwoven strips are held taut at the other end of her body, as toes curl and close around, not only the strips, but, as it were, the abstraction of what other people call design. The arc of her torso determines the skill of her feet and toes. Hand-eye coordination transpires within a frame of milli-second.

Estelita’s demeanor – characterized by alertness, focus, and calm that appears to permeate her entire body – is key to understanding mat weaving among the Sarangani Blaan and the rest of the Filipinos who still know the art. It is an exercise of imagination within the parameters of technology making. The rigidity of the parameters is precisely what the weaver works with to play with surprising variation and compelling repetitiveness. To manage this maneuver between confinement and freedom, any good weaver needs the focused energy Estelita abundantly demonstrated. Except that in her case, a preternatural serenity appears to be the very source of genius.

WOMEN WEAVING HERITAGE. Native of Malapatan, Sarangani, Manlilikha Ng Bayan Estelita Tumandan Bantilan is a well-known Blaan master weaver of mats called igêm. Visit the Manlilikha ng Bayan Hall at the 3F National Museum Philippines Anthropology in Manila to see some of the works of MB Bantilan.

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