In the lush island of Mindoro, the Hanunuo Mangyans have been weaving a traditional fabric called Ramit for generations. This intricate art of weaving, passed down from their ancestors, is not only a source of livelihood but also a representation of their cultural identity.
Ramit is a fabric made by the women of the community using indigenous cotton seed materials on a backstrap loom, a process called “habilan.” The cloth often features intricate geometric patterns that showcase the Mangyans’ artistic talent. Women wear the Ramit as a skirt with a blouse called balukas, while men wear a traditional loincloth or ba-ag.
The distinctive stripe patterns and blue color of Ramit represent the Mangyans’ cultural identity and are usually worn among the tribal communities of Bulalacao, Roxas, and Mansalay in Oriental Mindoro. The eight (8) Mangyan tribes showcase unity in diversity through their traditional weaving patterns, each with its distinct style and artistic expression.
Although Ramit weaving now uses cotton threads obtained from commercial and industrial garment producers, mainly of jeans, the skills used in making the cloth are still indigenous. This recycling of waste threads to use for weaving may not be indigenous, but the process still highlights the Mangyans’ resourcefulness and creativity in adapting to changing times.
Aside from Ramit, the Mangyans also weave baskets made with buri palm leaf and nito vine strips, which feature specific Mangyan designs. These intricate designs, passed down from generation to generation, represent the Mangyans’ rich cultural heritage and provide a glimpse into their way of life.
The intricate art of indigenous weaving is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of our ancestors handed down to our present time. The Ramit of the Hanunuo Mangyans is a beautiful representation of the country’s rich cultural heritage, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our traditional arts and crafts.
Filipinos should take pride in the country’s rich cultural heritage and celebrate it by promoting the use of indigenous textiles. Through sustainable and inclusive practices, the Philippines can continue to showcase its unique cultural identity and contribute to the growth of the local textile industry.
The intricate art of indigenous weaving, such as the Ramit of the Hanunuo Mangyans, is a legacy that we should be proud of and pass down to future generations.
Story based on the feature article “Ramit: Hanunuo Mangyan’s textile gem” written by Gene Ace Sapitan of PIA Mimaropa. Photos by Mangyan Heritage Center, Buhi Project/DOST PSTC-Occidental Mindoro.