La-a | @bababisaya

The Bantayanon Bisayan term for weaving banigs, mats woven from laguiluiy (pandanus leaves), is “La-a” – meaning, ‘to just be / to just exist / to just be chilling on the floor, weaving a mat.’

Manang Sonya Aloba of Okoy, Santa Fe is one of the last two elder banig weavers of Bantayan island, who can skillfully create a colored & patterned woven leaf tapestry. While more weavers do exist, they do not know how to create patterns in the weaving process, which requires an almost arithmetic mind map to design.

Like other knowledge keepers, we continue to meet in Bantayan, Manang Sonya did not finish elementary school, does not speak English or Tagalog, does not own a phone & never browsed the Internet.

We are grateful to have been studying Bantayanon Bisayan language for the past 2 years, which has allowed us to bridge connections with local people in a more genuine & relational way.

We treasure our friendship with Manang Sonya, offering her hilot, medical check-ups, & co-creating custom-made yoga mats (@kalamispiritarts), to better support her lifework & artistic craft.

Support local language learning, native artisans & cultural keepers!

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