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Highlights from Biyaheng Burda: Lumban, Laguna

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Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that – one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

On the 3rd day of May, Muni brought eight participants to another Biyeheng Burda at the Embroidery Capital of the Philippines, Lumban, Laguna. In the 60s and 70s, the signature Lumban embroidered pieces dressed politicians and the elite of society. It was the era when Filipiniana costumes were a required attire at social gatherings. Even today, the creations of the burdaderas of Lumban are worn by President Noy Noy Aquino.

Tourist Time. Photo ops in front of the historical Lumban Church which was house to an Embroidery school for ladies in the 1800s.
Tourist Time. Photo ops in front of the historical Lumban Church which was house to an Embroidery school for ladies in the 1800s.
Biyaheng Burda with MUNI & Bayani Brew
Bayani Brew teas served as the perfect way to cool down on the hot and sunny day

What It Takes To Be A Maker

More than discovering the art of embroidery, Biyaheng Burda took us on a journey of discovery and appreciation of the process behind the souvenirs we often take for granted.

We visited the source of Espasol and Kesong Puti some famous Lumban delicacies for a mini gourmand adventure. It might be very easy to munch on espasol, with tender chewy texture however, preparing it takes a lot of time and strength.

painstakingly mixing the tough concoction of the espasol base. Photo by Giovanni Roan
Tougher than Taffy. Painstakingly mixing the tough concoction of the espasol base. This mixture has to stay in low fire for about three hours before going through the mixing process for a few more hours until its cooked. (Photo by Giovanni Roan)

  Busy with Burda

Burdaderas For A Day

The House of Lumban Embroidery Association – Multi Purpose Cooperative (LEA-MPC) became our host and embroidery teachers for the day, keeping us well fed with food and embroidery knowledge.

Busy with Burda

Participants were taught of the basic Lumban embroidery stitches such as border, shadow, and scallop. These type of stitches are part of those Filipino-Renaissance revival embroidery designs usually found on the garments and products they make. They also learned the most complicated and mathematical legacy thread work called Callado.

Biyaheng Burda with MUNI & DMC
Participant Tetet showing off her labor of love
Biyaheng Burda with MUNI & DMC
Embroidery made with metallic DMC Philippines threads, and the start of integrating a callado design
The Intricate callado
The Intricate Callado.

Callado is a type of embroidery process to divide the pina fabric fibers and form a screen-like or honeycomb pattern with a very fine jusi thread. Its intricacy is akin to filigree.

Agents of Heritage

Our special thanks again to our Biyaheng Burda sponsors, DMC Philippines, Bayani Brew and Tala Luna, and of course to our wonderful guests who advocate for the preservation of our rich craft traditions, and the Lumban burdaderas who continue on with this beautiful craft.

The golden days of Lumban embroidery might be over and supply orders are not as abundant as it was in the 70’s but the tradition still continues through salinlahi. It is said, that even a seven year-old born to a Lumban burdarera, knows his or her needle work. In fact, it still is the source of income of some local out of school youth. To burdaderas who spent decades with the craft, pagbuburada is not just a job to as make ends meet but a living that makes them beacons of the Filipino legacy in crafts.

A final group picture to celebrate the day's learning adventure
The Biyaheras and The Burdaderas. Last group picture to celebrate the day’s learning adventure

The trip ended with a whole group of people with an in awe of the craft, a new-found respect towards the burdaderas for their unwavering patience in creating such intricate craft-works and a burning passion to keep  the Lumban industry alive.

If the younger set of designers would discover and rediscover not just the Philippine embroidery but the Filipino clothing culture and make it updated and accessible clothing products. It could not just generate income for the burdaderas and other Filipiniana clothing artisans but save our heritage from dying. It might take a lot of time and work but it will be worth it.


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