Monday, April 23, 2012

ANTHILL Fabric Gallery

If you know me, then you know about my unexplained anger towards ants. But this weekend, I finally met an ANT that I, LOVE. After half a day of airport madness, I finally reached Cebu, and upon hotel check-in, I was taken to the ANTHILL Fabric Gallery for a (delayed) afternoon meeting with Queen Ant, Tita Annie Lim. Thanks to Anya, her daughter and Princess Ant, for connecting us all via e-mail!

ANTHILL stands for Alternative Nest and Trading/ Training Hub for Ingenious/ Indigenous Little Livelihood Seekers. Here is an excerpt from Anya's e-mail to me:

"ANTHILL Fabric Gallery is the first creative social enterprise and a lifestyle store in Metro Cebu celebrating a communal spirit among Filipino artisans, bringing into one nest ingenuity, fashion, culture, advocacy and art. It highlights the beauty of intricately woven indigenous fabrics from the Philippine hill tribes with a passion to restore and promote the richness of Philippine culture and living traditions through our local crafts and weaving industry. In this hub, fabrics are more than just ingredients to fashion; it is a way of life, it is where culture meets style."
I got to the shop and immediately felt all this gigil (that need to squish something)... but not ants, though. My aversion for ants was momentarily forgotten because of my overflowing love for handwoven indigenous fabric. It's not a big secret, but I am an indigenous fabric collector, and I make it a point to purchase local handwoven fabric whenever I travel around the different provinces in the Philippines.
The front part of the shop features lots of special and limited cut fabrics from all over Asia.

We began with a quick tour of the gallery. I have never been surrounded by such a diverse selection of indigenous handwoven fabric...I was in heaven! I wanted them all for myself!! I was daydreaming with Tita Annie about decorating our condo with these fabrics, and incidentally, she's also building her new home next month, and of course, will be utilizing a lot of these fabrics.
Home and office accessories, gift products, and rolls of t'nalak and banig. I bought some fabric to experiment with for an evening gown.
More fabric and fashion accessories. Clay pendants and Daragyuhan Gintawan bracelets. 
Textile that I will hoard when we start furnishing our new place.
Ikat and stripes.
Traditional & modern clothing using indigenous fabric. On the right is a pair of Kantarines Bloomers.
These Isabel Rag Dolls are made by one of ANTHILL's partner urban community, Home of Mary Enterprise. The group is comprise of hard working mothers in Tisa, Labangon, Cebu. Each Isabel Rag Doll is unique, and comes with another set of clothes so little girls can play dress up with them.  They are made completely from remnant or scrap colorful fabrics patched up to give life. 
Luggage tags, Checkbook wallets and seed/nut beads.
ANTHILL also consigns items that share the company's vision. VESTI is a line of bags that make use of Philippine weave, and above is a wallet made from upcycled old airplane tires.
They like to explore the creativity of the tribe members, and above is a painting on canvas, using soil and plant extracts, with a personal note from the artist.
This one absolutely wow-ed me. I was told that it was newly delivered, and a young girl from the tribe made it. I want to meet that kid. She has MAD skills. How can you do this with only a pattern in your head? I will attempt to make one myself, but I don't know...everytime I stare at this, I am left with no words. This friendship bracelet bag is 1million levels up.
Before it was time to say goodbye, Tita Annie gave me a tour of her button bathroom. She used the sample buttons that were given to her to decorate her restroom walls.

What I admire about ANTHILL is their direct relationships with the communities that they work with. Around the store there are photos of them on their trips up to the mountains / tribes. After an idea-filled afternoon with Queen Ant, Tita Annie (guided by Anya's e-mail of topics we had to cover), I'm even more excited to start working on collaborations with them! Hopefully, they'll also allow me to join them on one of their visits to the communities. That would definitely be a dream come true for me.

What a great way to spend my Earth Day weekend! :)

ANTHILL Fabric Gallery
Pedro Calomarde St. cor Acacia St. Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, 6000 Cebu City, Philippines
Open Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 730pm
Tel. no. +63 32 5054175