The fair’s 13th edition is happening on October 13 to 15.
This year, Likhang Habi Market Fair revolves around the theme “Web of Woven Wonders” to reflect the ever-expanding digital world we now live in. Happening next month at the Glorietta and Palm Drive Activity Center, it builds on the vital information system that now dominates our lives and the growing interconnectedness of people, places and things.
A year after its first in-person market fair, which temporarily shifted to online in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, this year’s number of vendors is 72.
Representing various regional and ethnic groups from all over the country, they will be presenting a wide range of hand-woven products—from textiles to ready-to-wear clothing, bags and shoes, home accessories and furniture pieces—made of materials such as piña, abaca, and cotton, among others.
More vendors at HABi fair
To accommodate the increase in the number of participants, the fair will be occupying a bigger space, from the Glorietta Activity Center all the way up to the area fronting Palm Drive, said Mia Villanueva, president of HABI.
“Whereas most vendors last year only got one table each, this year, a growing number of participants are getting two,” Villanueva added. “For the first time as well, a number of local government units from such provinces as Aklan approached us directly, asking to rent multiple tables to feature their products.”
Designer and longtime HABI supporter Len Cabili, the woman behind Filip+Inna and one of the country’s leading advocates of traditional textiles, said, “HABI has made great strides in pushing weaving into the forefront of Philippine culture.”
As the country’s de facto textile council, HABI has also reached out to its counterparts in the region. This year, it is will feature exhibitors from Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia.
“It’s also good to know what other people are doing,” said Villanueva. “Apart from giving, say, our designers a range of possibilities which they could incorporate with our local textiles, inviting our friends from abroad also helps us to learn from their industries, experiences, and best practices, including the support they’re getting from their respective governments.”
With generous support from Ayala Land and the Ayala Foundation, Likhang HABI Market Fair has been held ever since at Glorietta. The council has also gained monetary support from various donors as well as grants from various public and private institutions and corporations.
As a non-profit organization, HABI doesn’t earn anything from its annual market fair. Whatever percentage it charges from the gross income each exhibitor earns is plowed back to cover basic expenses, including the staging of next year’s event.
Over the years, the rental fees it charges exhibitors have remained reasonable to allow more participants, including fledgling start-ups and small exhibitors, to join. First-timers are usually grouped together in a common section called the HABI booth.
In keeping with its principal mandate to promote hand-weaving, products and the uplift of livelihoods, the council is also holding two competitions: the 6th annual Lourdes Montinola Piña Weaving Competition and the 2nd Eloisa Hizon Gomez Abaca Weaving Competition.
The competitions aim to promote and bolster the art of hand-weaving, which, based on HABI’s previous experiences, especially with piña, has resulted not only in innovation but also in the reemergence of what was previously thought as lost styles and weaving techniques.
Balud CraftBicol Sweetgrass
Filip+Inna will be sponsoring the Innovation Award for this year’s piña competition. According to Cabili, the award is a necessary and fitting honor given to makers of the best, pure piña fabric.
“A few years ago, when I was one of the judges of the piña competition, I saw the need to differentiate new blends of the piña textiles from its unadulterated form. While it’s essential to innovate, proper honor and recognition should be given to those behind the best pure piña or liniwan piña fabrics. We need to show the distinct qualities of the different grades of piña textiles,” Cabili explained.
HABI is also featuring the works of Paul Jatayna, a young multi-disciplinary artist and production designer whose signature creations fuse seemingly disparate and unyielding elements such as metal and concrete with fluid once like textiles. He will also be producing a short video revolving around his textile exhibit’s theme.
HABI’s efforts have extended to the production of documentaries and the publication of books to promote and put into context the country’s long and rich hand-weaving tradition, including its history and the important role it plays as part of the country’s culture.
The Threaded Traditions Series—three documentaries produced by HABI—focus on the textiles of Panay Island, the ikat of the Cordillera, and the inabal of the Bagobo Tagabawa.
Its fourth and latest book, Piña Futures: Weaving Memories and Innovations, is written by Panay native Dr. Randy M. Madrid, is edited by seasoned writer, cultural advocate and longtime HABI supporter Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, who shared a number of points related to the book “that feed or weave into the fair itself.”
Piña Futures highlights positive updates in sustaining heritage fabrics made from locally grown natural fibers, including interesting and inspiring work done by researchers and weavers to search for and revive certain antique patterns and textures, which were previously thought to have been lost, and weave them back into the piña fabric. A part of the book also delves into the country’s natural dyes that have almost disappeared.
The book also provides readers a glimpse of new and innovative post-weaving developments. Apart from exquisite embroidery and other forms of traditional finishing, which for generations have been done mostly in the Southern Tagalog provinces, the piña fabric itself first took root and later flourished on the island of Panay as early as the 18th century. It reached its golden age in the 19th century, becoming the fabric of choice for formal occasions among the elite and educated families of the day, including that of the country’s national hero Jose Rizal.
On a more practical note, the book also provides valuable insights on how to reuse and upcycle vintage and slightly damaged piña either as full fabrics or as accents that make up new articles of clothing.