Project title: Sustainable and innovative weaving practices, processes and networks among women in the Western coast of Aborlan, Palawan
Focal landscape: Tagbanua community (Sitio tina, Aborlan, Palawan)
Recipients: LifeCollege, Inc. (In-charge: Jan Vincent Abril)
LifeCollege, Inc is a cutting-edge learning hub recognised by the Department of Education to offer pre-kindergarten to senior high school courses. The college is known for its travel abroad programme called Global Citizenship Class, which has already brought 400 Palaweños to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand,
Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia since 2008. At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school initiated a literacy and numeracy programme for disadvantaged children on the Western coast of Palawan. Currently, its discovery research on woven products, processes, and networks funded by the British Council will lead to the creation of a creative hub in the community and the integration of the knowledge produced in the school curriculum.
Jan Michael Vincent Nadal Abril is a Chevening scholar for the 2018-2019 school year. He graduated from the University College London Institute of Education His research interests centre around the assessment of non-cognitive skills and the application of Sen and Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach in examining educational inequalities. He is the current school principal at LifeCollege in Puerto Princesa City.
His role includes leading the Global Citizenship Class, a travel abroad programme to Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

About the project

This scoping and mapping project mainly aims to map the existing weaving practices of the Tagbanua community in Sitio tina, Aborlan, Palawan, understand their challenges, ambitions and proposed ways forward in three impact areas: sustainability, innovation and lifelong learning.

  1. The craft community's weaving practices, processes and dependence on forest and non-timber sources will be mapped. The community resources and assets will be mapped (i.e., financial, physical, human, natural and social). We expect the main outcome in terms of a common framework or guidelines for resource management to meet the community's production and conservation goals. Using participatory research approaches, we also expect to understand gendered-power relations from the lived experiences of women weavers about existing power structures, processes and networks, how they are marginalised and disadvantaged systematically by these, and how weaving, arts and crafts provide them agency, sense of purpose and empowerment beyond just means for livelihood
  1. once the weaving practices and process have been identified, the focus will be on innovation in their product and design through the visual participatory workshop with both local and UK-based academics, artists or entrepreneurs. We expect that innovative designs for their mats, baskets and others can help boost the marketability and profitability of their woven products and their design both locally and abroad. Access to a supply chain through potential partnerships with UK-based and local organisations and universities is given priority as part of innovation through market and value chain analysis
  1. recommendations on sustainability, innovation and lifelong learning will be disseminated through public sharing activities. The research outputs and outcomes lay the foundation for constructing a community creative hub in the community as a centre for lifelong learning, where young people, children and the larger community can potentially learn and appreciate weaving as a significant part of their cultural identity.

The main research approach is participatory research methods, utilising informal qualitative interviews, focus group discussions, and visual arts workshops to achieve these aims. We elect to depart from common top-down approaches and instead use community-based approaches to highlight the voices of local weavers especially women through collaborative research and partnership. Our main perspective toward the participants is collaborative partners and co-creators of knowledge, being the artisans who grow forest resources and livelihood.