Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
“Over and over, again and again, God is faithful in the lives of the weavers.”
These are the words shared by Ms. Jenita Eko president of the Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association (LASIWWAI), as 170 households from an indigenous T’boli community received food and other essential items from Ayala Foundation and other organizations.
Ayala Foundation provided 25 sacks of rice for distribution among LASIWWAI volunteers, cultural masters, weavers, and affiliate weavers. In the past year, Ayala Foundation has been working with the members of the LASIWWAI, many of whom have been keeping the beautiful tradition of t’nalak weaving alive. The rice assistance is part of Ayala Foundation’s efforts to continue supporting its partner communities, as the country continues to experience challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the foundation provided rice for T’boli families, members of the community have shown their solidarity and compassion for one another, through the sharing of resources. Community members volunteered to assemble the assistance packages, which they called “survival packs,” as these are much-needed by the community “to surpass the crisis”. And as their way of helping their neighbors and loved ones survive this challenge, farmers from the community shared part of their harvest of vegetables to complete the survival packs.
Even during challenging times, the weavers remain true to her culture. Eko shared that during the relief distribution, one of the recipients was seen transferring some of the essential goods she had received into her malong, which she assembled into a klofoy. Klofoy is a way of assembling the malong to help a T’boli woman safely and comfortably carry goods and other objects that she picks up while on transit.
“The convergence of resources is a great help to deliver enough supplies for LASIWWAI weavers and to reach out non-member t’nalak weavers,” said Eko. “Thank you for sharing your blessings with the T’boli tribe in Lake Sebu.”
LASIWWAI is a not-for-profit, community-based organization that promotes weaving “not only as a source of livelihood for indigenous women, but also as an integral part of their indigenous culture…. It seeks to empower women by working on two top priority programs: peace and multiculturalism, and poverty reduction.”
As an advocate of community development through inclusion and inspiration, Ayala Foundation has been working with LASIWWAI on various initiatives that empower the indigenous community while also promoting sustainable livelihood.