The Philippine Embassy in Berlin launched last weekend a new online series entitled Unpacking the Pandemic’s Lessons through Interviews with Filipino Thought-leaders/Talents (UPLIFT) with a session on “Weaving change, fashioning the future.” Featuring Ms Anya Lim, co-founder and ‘Princess Ant’ of Cebu-based social and cultural enterprise ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, a number of session participants donned Philippine weaves in line with ANTHILL’s rallying cry #wearyourtribewithpride.
Ms Lim recounted ANTHILL’s beginnings inspired by her childhood encounters with indigenous Philippine cultures courtesy of her mother, who worked with indigenous communities, and how witnessing the disappearance of weaving traditions galvanized her to set up business that would assist weaving artisans in innovating their design and connecting to markets.
Thus, ANTHILL, which stands for Alternative Nest and Trading /Training Hub for Indigenous or Ingenious Little Livelihood seekers, was founded, and has since been at the vanguard of cultural preservation, community uplift, women empowerment, and sustainability promotion in the Philippines. It is leading the local movement on slow fashion that is “human-centered and allows us to really respect and honor the flow of stories that are intricately woven in the process.”
In line with UPLIFT’s thrust of examining the impacts of COVID-19 on various areas and aspects of society and the economy, Ms Lim also narrated the challenges ANTHILL and its artisans are facing because of the pandemic, and how they are navigating these challenges. For example, artisans who do not have their own looms are unable to go to the community weaving centers to work and have thus found ways to create new revenue streams through, for example, backyard agriculture. Meanwhile, online sales through its website have been a lifeline for ANTHILL amid the cancellation of several pop-up events it was slated to have this year. In addition to their usual merchandise, ANTHILL has come up with safety essentials like face masks featuring local weaves and Bayanihan self-care buckets in response to the pandemic.
Ambassador Maria Theresa Dizon-De Vega lauded Anya and the ANTHILL team for their efforts and highlighted the importance of Filipinos supporting local industries and social enterprises especially at this time of need.
The UPLIFT session, which is part of the Embassy’s Gender & Development (GAD), Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK), and Sustainability programs also marks the celebration of Buwan ng mga Wika in August. Those interested to learn more about ANTHILL may view the recording at https://bit.ly/3gpGGYc and visit www.anthillfabricgallery.com. END.