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Mabal Blaan

Weaving the Threads of Heritage 1

Mabal Blaan: Weaving the Threads of Heritage
Curatorial Brief
Bing Cariño, Emi Englis, Curators
Title: Mabal Blaan: Weaving the Threads of Heritage
Date: October 13-16 2014
Vanue: SM Events Center, General Santos City
The concern for the preservation of the culture of the Blaan is not new. Initiatives to help
protect the Blaan way of life from vanishing has been going on for quite some time but the enormity
of the task found many of these noble interventions lacking at their very best. Many aspects of the
Blaan culture are systematically vanishing before an initiative even is thought of. One of these
precious heritages endangered of vanishing is the Blaan weaving tradition called Mabal.
When the initial cultural mapping of the Blaans were done, back when this method of
cultural resource inventory became a heritage conservationist vocabulary, small communities of
Mabal masters are producing rolls of textile in their weaving houses (Gumne Gumabal). Today,
only two known masters survive- Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo of Polomolok, South Cotabato and Fu
Gusiye Buan of Kibala, Malungon Sarangani. While the LGUs of these masters are supporting
initiatives of training a new generation of weavers in Schools of Living Tradition (SLT), the enormity
of the Indigenous knowledge systems revolving around the Mabal is daunting. Two Masters in the
twilight of their creative energies carry the burden of sustaining, recording and telling the entire
narrative of the Mabal that connects each Blaan to their history as a people.
The Mabal Tabih is difficult to make. If the entire tradition of Mabal making will be carried on
only by the last two masters, Fu Yabing and Fu Gusiye only a few more Tabihs will be completed;
the documentation of this fabulous cultural resource will be left unfinished; the noble narrative of the
existence of a Blaan nation will go silent with the passing of the masters.
Thus, “Mabal Blaan: Weaving the Threads of Heritage” an exhibit on the Mabal tradition is
organized. This project shall cover a comprehensive study on the Mabal: the technology, the
indigenous knowledge systems, the aesthetics and design; a gathering of important pieces ever
woven to appreciate the Mabal craft not only as a way of life but as a heritage of the Philippines.
In the same vein, the exhibit shall empower Blaan women folk as the exhibition shows the
role of women in crafting the identity of the Blaan through the crafts. The Mabal designs are
important to the Blaans as it is in the patterns and colors that gives identity even if the Tbolis( in
their Tnalak) and the Tagabawa Bagobo ( in their inabal), uses the same materials, sets each of
these peoples apart. The Mabal is a subtle but distinct cultural resource that defines the Blaan
Mabal Blaan
Weaving the Threads of Heritage 2

October is the celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month. Fittingly, to
commemorate the celebration, the exhibit “Mabal Blaan: Weaving the Threads of Heritage” will
open to the public.
“is an extensive, elaborate, and detailed exhibit.
Artifacts exhibited are finished Blaan Tabih, tools and
materials used in the making of the fabric, and
derivative products using the Tabih. This is a
combination of the Tangible (physical) and intangible
(ephemeral) construction of the Mabal. A live weaving
demonstration is also included in the following
sectional themes:
1. The Blaan Tabih as Socio Cultural
Resource Material (the Tabih as a tangible cultural
resource in everyday Blaan life)
Artifacts: Blaan Tabih. Blaan Shorts. Tools and other implements decorated with

2. Survey of Blaan Tabih as Crafting Tradition
Artifacts: works of:
- Blaans from Landan (Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo and the deceased weaver
Fu Caturan)
- Blaan from Malungon (Fu Gusiye Buan)

3. The Mabal as an Indigenous Knowledge System/ indigenous technology
(weaving materials, full loom set-up and/or live weaving)
Artifact: Complete Loom set-up

4. The Blaan Tabih as a Cultural Identity (a comparative section where the Blaan
Mabal technology is compared with Tboli Tnalak and the Tagabawa Bagobo
Inabal Technologies)
Artifacts works of Lang Dulay and Salinta Monon. (Carlo Ebeo and and Bing

5. The Blaan Tabih as an Economic Resource ( from traditional to
contemporary/fashion world like the works of Emi Englis and cultural enterprise
like integration of Tabih and even Tnalak as wedding accessories as popularized
now by the International Touch in General Santos City)

Mabal Blaan
Weaving the Threads of Heritage 3

Objectives of the Project:
To popularize the Blaan Tabih as a heritage material and promote and popularize the role
traditional artists as keepers of national heritage .
1. Gather Fu Yabing’s and Fu Gusiye’s most important works as focus of the exhibit.
2. Gather and borrow the works of the deceased weavers from Landan like Fu Caturan
3. This exhibit will also finish the cultural mapping of the Tabih as:
 an Indigenous Knowledge System (i.e, identification, propagation, and harvest of culturally
significant Flora e.g abaca fiber and dye derivatives)
 an indigenous cultural expression and aesthetics
 indigenous technology