Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Philippines has nominated Aklan piña handloom weaving (No. 01564) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Piña is a textile made from pineapple leaf fibres and woven using a handloom. Farmers harvest the leaves of the pinya Bisaya, a specific pineapple species, and extract the fibres by hand. The fibres are weighed using a local unit of measurement and method involving old coins of different denominations. The knowledge and skills of piña handloom weaving are primarily passed on within families. Children grow up observing older family members engaged in pinya Bisaya cultivation and piña weaving, and eventually learn the craft under their guidance. The practice is also transmitted through the Schools of Living Traditions, which were initiated by local communities in partnership with the government to help safeguard intangible cultural heritage in the Philippines. Certain institutes provide trainings on related agricultural practices and weaving. A source of pride and a strong identity marker, the piña is the most highly regarded of the traditional textiles of the Philippines. It is the preferred textile for making formal attire and is a vehicle for innovation and creativity, as practitioners constantly develop new designs and patterns even as they preserve the old ones. It is also a source of livelihood that contributes to sustainable development and to the social and economic empowerment of families and local communities.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The element involves the weaving of fabrics with fibres from a particular pineapple species: the pinya Bisaya. Bearers and practitioners include the Aklanon communities (an ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines). Piña weaving is considered a family heritage, with each household member having distinct roles. Expert weavers in the communities, usually elders, pass on the knowledge and skills to younger generations. Young family members grow up observing the older ones, and learn the craft under the tutelage of experienced members. The element is associated with the traditional textiles of the country. It is the preferred textile for making formal attire worn during special occasions and the material is often viewed as a reflection of Philippine culture. The craft and textile have become a source of pride and an identity marker among Aklanon communities, indicating creativity, diligence, and their interactions with the environment. The element fosters a sense of belonging, mutual respect and interdependence among practitioners and bearers. It is a source of livelihood that contributes to sustainable development and to the social and economic empowerment of families and local communities. It also encourages the production of eco-friendly and organic products.

R.2:   At the local, national and international levels, inscription would ensure visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general and for the element in particular. It would also increase awareness about how the element contributes to the communities’ identity, creative industries and sustainable development. Inscription would instil pride, resulting in greater attention to other expressions of living heritage and providing an incentive to learn more about them. Inscription would be cause for national celebration, since garments made from the textiles are worn throughout the country. It would also increase intercultural and interpersonal exchange of skills and experiences between the Aklanon and other weaving communities and provinces. Internationally, other practitioners of traditional weaving would recognize their work as intangible cultural heritage and become motivated to safeguard it. Awareness would also spread among the Filipino diaspora.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures include a wide range of actions to ensure that the viability of the element as well as its transmission to younger generations. The proposed safeguarding measures are guided by the overarching goal of advancing socially integrative processes and strengthened communal values towards the sustainable development of the communities. There are five desired results: (a) youth involvement in cultural education and apprenticeship programmes; (b) public awareness raising; (c) sustained quality standards; (d) the creation of Assessment Centres; and (e) the enhancement of woven textiles. Details, including budgets, are indicated. A range of state bodies will support the implementation of the safeguarding measures, from heritage actors to tourism and welfare departments. These measures were formulated through consultations and workshops, and participants were primarily women belonging to self-help associations of weavers, civil society organizations, local government units and other government agencies.

R.4:   Community participation is described in detail and attests to the community’s involvement in the entire nomination process. Specialized working committees were established, and the nomination process entailed reviewing and updating the inventory of the element and facilitating a series of community consultations and validation meetings and assemblies with the groups and individuals concerned. A series of letters confirm the free, prior and informed consent from community associations and institutional endorsement from relevant bodies.

R.5:   Since 2013, the element has been part of the Philippine Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, moderated by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in the Philippines. It was identified and defined by the Aklanon practitioners, who discussed the element’s identification, description, viability, sustainability, threats and safeguarding, prior to including it in the inventory. Community and civil society organizations also participated in the inventorying activities. The inventory is updated and approved annually, with the participation of practitioners.

  1. Decides to inscribe Aklan piña handloom weaving on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party on a well-prepared file that features broad involvement of the communities, groups and individuals concerned and a well-thought-out safeguarding plan.