Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi awardee Beatriz Tesoro hopes the youth can continue piña revival
As the only country in the world that still produces, weaves and makes pineapple into fabric, it has been the mission of Beatriz “Patis” Tesoro to revive this faltering industry.
Tesoro, one of the Ateneo’s Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi awardees for 2016, has made efforts to revive the piña fabric for over 30 years now. This time, she says, it’s the youth’s turn to continue that revival.
“I’m looking for creators who will take piña (fabric) to heart, not just in embroidering but in every aspect of life and every aspect of being Filipino,” she says.
In a public lecture last Oct. 4, 2016 at the Faura Hall AVR, Tesoro encouraged the young audience to take lessons on piña textile-making. She added that part of understanding piña textile was being familiar with the actual process of piña fiber-extraction. “Go to (the) source,” she said. “Go to the field. Talk to the farmers and weavers.”
The extraction process is tedious and intricate, involving more or less 20 steps. Put simply, the leaves of native pineapples, which grow from 5 to 7 feet long, are scraped three times using three different materials to extract the piña fibers. Liniwan, the finest of all fibers, is the one Tesoro uses in her barong and baro’t saya designs.
The collected liniwan fibers are then washed, dried, combed and knotted strand by strand. These are then shaped into pancakes called tinagak, the final product weavers use to make textiles.
“Piña is part of our identity as Filipinos,” she said. “You wear something like this, you don’t even have to talk. They’ll know it’s Filipino.”
Because the whole process is done by hand, roughly one tinagak costs PhP4,000. Little by little, Tesoro is making adjustments so the tinagak will be more affordable. For one, she mixes the piña fiber with other fibers, such as silk. Another way of making it affordable is by using only patches of pure liniwan in her designs.
According to Tesoro, there is not enough interest in piña fiber extraction. The young weavers also do not want to weave piña because of the long process.
“The only way you could get people interested in it is if young people will be active in getting their own community to do it,” she said.
During the lecture, Tesoro gave the audience a sneak preview of her November fashion show. These included garments of contemporary designs and new embroidery patterns.
Beatriz Tesoro has been a heritage fashion designer since the 1980s. Her interest in embroidery, craftsmanship and textile-making started at a young age, learning from her classes in Assumption, Iloilo, from her mother, Nena, and from her late mother-in-law Salud Tesoro.
Already an established icon in the Philippine fashion, Tesoro said she will now pass on what she knows to younger generations. During her conferment last Sept. 27, 2016, she shared that she was holding lessons on piña weaving in her home in Laguna through the School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA) Design Institute and hoped to conduct more.
“I told my students, ‘You are now the Filipinos who will continue our tradition,’” she said. “I also told them that in the school of life, I learned that you have to be passionate,” she said. “Life is all about passion, but life is also more about happiness.”