|Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos and President Aquino shake hands during the awarding of the Gawad sa Manlilikhang Bayan in Malacañang. Photo by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – Ilocos Norte Rep. and former First Lady Imelda Marcos was among the guests in Malacañang when President Benigno Aquino III conferred the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasures Award) on two traditional artists.
One of the awardees, 88-year-old Magdalena Gamayo, hails from Marcos’ province of Ilocos Norte. Gamayo, a weaver of the traditional Ilocano blanket called “inabel,” was recognized for her work in “safeguarding and promoting the traditional art of textile weaving.”
“Kalyuhin man ang daliri, mahapo man ang mga mata at mapagod ang mga binti at kamay, hindi ito alintana kay Nanay Magdalena. Ang resulta: lumipas man ang halos pitong dekada, patuloy na tinitingala at tinatangkilik ng kanyang komunidad ang hinahabi niyang abel Iloco,” Aquino said in his speech.
The other awardee was Teofilo Garcia, a maker of the traditional head gear called “tabungaw” made of local gourd (upo), rattan and bamboo. Garcia, according to the President, is the last remaining maker of tabungaw in his hometown of San Quintin, Abra.
“Makalipas po ang 55 taon, siya na lang ang natitirang gumagawa ng tabungaw sa San Quintin, Abra. Talaga namang nakakabilib si Ginoong Garcia; kumpletos rekados ang kanyang kaalaman at talento. Siya ang nagtatanim at nag-aani ng upo na ginagamit niyang pangunahing material, at siya rin ang nag-iisip at naglalapat ng masalimuot na mga dibuho sa tabungaw,” Aquino said.
The President warned that traditional art faces the risk of vanishing if it is not taught and passed on to the next generation.
“Mulat tayong gaano man kayaman ang sining at kultura, may panganib itong maglaho kung hindi maipapamana sa susunod na henerasyon,” he said.
The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan, managed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, was established by Congress in 1992. It is the government’s highest award given to traditional artists.