Set in the verdant surroundings of Patis Tito Garden Cafe in San Pablo City, Laguna, I was able to witness a fine cultural exchange between the weavers (Tinggians) of Abra and the burdaderas (weavers) of Lumban, Laguna. This charming bed and breakfast is owned by Patis Tesoro and family, the latter being referred to by society as the Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion. The event was a day to remember wherein we were truly gifted with a deeper sense of appreciation of our Filipino culture and heritage. There were many visitors present during the talk. And many more arrived as the day went by.
Buffet breakfast was served at around eight in the morning. It was followed with a talk by Patis regarding the Piña process of weaving. It was an engaging one as we were showed how the remarkable Piña fiber is harvested from the fruit’s leaves and turned to a fine weaving material. The Piña often reminds me of elegant weddings. And learning how the actual process was, I realized why such is often priced at a remarkable range.
Patis’ talk was short but it was very substantial and inspiring. She said that we should focus in many areas of Filipino heritage preservation. And one of those worth looking at is the vibrant, but sadly, the slowly dying Filipino textile industry. According to her, in the early days, being a master weaver would be the pride and joy of the women of any household.
Tinggians vs Lumban Weavers
The two groups were busy doing their craft at a small enclosed area where visitors can talk, admire and even engage with the women. The Agaid family from Abra, belonging to the Itneg tribe, caught my attention with their vibrant pieces. It greatly reminded me of the fabrics of Mindanao. But theirs was softer, more colorful and pleasing to the eyes.
The Agaid women patiently explain to me what each design mean.
The woven fabric above was designed and created by the family matriach. However, she was unable to come to the event with the rest of the family. Good thing that one of her daughters, Librata (if I remember her name correctly) shared with me the story of what we see on the textile.
It consisted of four layers, each telling a different story. The first one showed the holy or tribal wars, the second row showcased home activities while the third one refers to the daily chores like weaving and dyeing of fabrics. While the last one tells the story of how the Americans in the north surrendered to the Japanese during WWII.
For me, this handwoven textile is quite unique. The price varies depending on design and quality. The blue one I wore above cost two thousand pesos only. If I had the funds with me, I would have purchased at least one.
I was quite familiar with the embroidered material from nearby Lumban. The patterns used are often drawn on the fiber witch serve as a guide for the embroiderer.
Our 500 peso lunch buffet consisted of Signature Ensaladang Pako, Crispy Dilis with Tomato & Salted Egg, Grilled Adobo Antigo Liempo, Pinakbet, Pancit Bihon Guisado and Homemade Banana Ice Cream with Raisins.
Though it appeared as too heavy to eat, the lunch was actually on the light side. The menu was very healthy too. Having this lunch was like a punctuation mark to my current efforts of staying fit and healthy.
Finally, after evading this cafe (formerly called Kusina Salud) for several years now, I was given the opportunity to experience it in a delectable and more importantly, meaningful way. I definitely fell in love with the interiors as my readers know that I am a lover of anything Filipino.
I have taken a liking to its high-ceilinged restaurant and interesting souvenir shop. Patis is obviously an art-lover and environmentalist too as seen in the accents placed tastefully around the restaurant. The plants are green and wild and give that rustic provincial feel.
I guess the family is fond of animals as there was a mini-zoo of colorful and charmingly noisy birds. Dog-lovers will have a field day here as man’s best friend is most welcome. They would even serve a bowl of water for your furry pets! Just inform them ahead of your visit.
I was not much surprised upon seeing different art works on display. I even saw a contemporary piece by Glenn Cagandahan right at the entrance. This masterpiece below is placed near the souvenir shop. Though I did not know who created it.
My visit, though long overdue, was worth the wait. Not only I have learned new things about our textile industry. More importantly, I have come to appreciate this part of our culture and hoped to be a part of doing something in keeping alive for future generations.