Master weaver Jenny Bawer Young is collaborating with Manilatown Heritage Foundation and eight female apprentices on Chew-want chi Biyeg (River of Life) to create an indigenous Kalinga laga (backstrap loom) tapestry. The project’s title refers to the Chica River, which runs through the Cordillera region of the northern Philippines and is revered by the Kalinga people from ancient times. In the mid-1980s, the Kalinga people, along with other tribal and progressive groups, blocked a planned dam project on the river. The laga Tapestry will represent their fight for the river. Pieces of the tapestry will be woven in traditional laga style through a collective and communal process in the United States and the Philippines. All woven pieces will feature distinct designs that tell stories and reflect reverence for nature. Jenny Bawer Young will coach participants in the weaving techniques and piece together the finished work.
Jenny Bawer Young is the only actively practicing Kalinga weaver in California and one of two in the United States. She teaches laga to others, who include eight apprentices who make up the Laga CA Circle (a weaving collective). Members of the circle and at least four youth students will be the core weavers for this project, and Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s network will be engaged to build participation in the process.
Since its inception in 1994, Manilatown Heritage Foundation has promoted social and economic justice for Filipinos in the United States by preserving history, advocating for equal access, and advancing and promoting pride in Filipino arts, culture, and traditions. Its location in the I-Hotel/Manilatown Center is a gathering place for the Filipino-American community.