Spotlight: Revisiting Lumad Arts and Crafts

The Philippines is rich.  

For those of us who grew up in the country, we’ve always been taught of our richness in biodiversity, in natural resources, in culture, in traditions, and in beliefs. A country with over 7000 islands, we also aren’t inadequate of ethnic communities.   

We nod, saying how amazed we of their identity and its manifestations. And that is just about it. We left them closed in the pages of our Sibika and Araling Panlipunan books. At the time where most of the indigenous communities are threatened and with the continued marginalization, we look back and celebrate the country’s diversity by revisiting the Lumad arts and crafts. We aim to inspire awareness and mobility for those who have the capacity to put them into the spotlight.

Cloth weaving

Perhaps, when we speak of Lumad arts and crafts, we imagine the bright pieces of clothing laced with intricate designs. While this is just the tip of the iceberg of the Lumad artistry, cloth weaving is a leviathan part of the Lumad way of life.

Woven clothing, when worn by the Lumads are nothing short of sublime, but taking a closer look into it is far more magnificent. The designs and colors hold many meanings, displaying the beliefs and history of the community if you are keen enough to look closer at this work of art.

Mandaya’s Dagmay is a woven cloth that exhibits their folklore and religion. A recurring element of their work is a crocodile, which is considered sacred for the tribe.  

The T’nalak of the Tbolis is another woven cloth that is worn for sacred ceremonies during the community festivals. The weavers are at liberty to create their own pattern arrangements based on their dreams, which makes it more interesting and one-of-a-kind.

Bagobos call their woven clothing Inabal, which are worn by the royalties of their tribes. This craft is brought further into the limelight when traditional weaver Salita Monon received an award for her traditional weaves.


Skin art is nothing new to us. We’ve admired the details that come into it, and we’re more astounded by the history that comes behind it. I, for one, thought of being inked, if not for my fear of needles as another avenue to express myself.

To the Lumads, it is not a mere expression. It is who they are. Some Lumads, especially the males, put on tattoos to their skin to show their prowess. It is a representation of their skills as a warrior. The more tattoos, the more skilled they are in hunting.

There are also other Lumads, who believe that their tattoos pave way for their acceptance in the underworld and the afterlife.

and the afterlife.

Soil paintings

For the Lumads, the soil is both essential to and emblematic of their lives and traditions, strengthening its indispensability for their community. The soil on which they stand on is the land entitled to them as the guardians, possessed by their lineage since time immemorial.

They turn back to the earth to give life to new artforms that uniquely showcase their mores. The Lumads like the Talaandig from Bukidnon have been known to practice soil painting. Loosely, the paintings are made for the preservation of their cultures, traditions, practices and for environmental protection.

To boot, this practice likewise is an expression of the beauty and peace brought by the earth. It is when we’re at our most peaceful self that we can clearly see art in its truest form.

Raul Bendit, in his talk with a Cebu-based news outfit said “Importante ang yuta nga para sa uban tumban lang busa gusto nato ipakita nga pwede kini mahimong art kay usa kini ka paghulagway sa beauty sa atong kalibutan ug kalinaw. kay dili man ta kahimo og arts kung dili peaceful ang atong huna-huna (The soil is important. Others may just think of it as something to step on but we chose this to highlight the beauty of the Earth and of peace which we need to be able to create art),”

We’ve overlooked Lumad art far too long. Now is a chance for us to bring their stories and lives up front and honor a culture that is truly Filipino.  


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