Jenny Bawer Young

Kalinga laga weaving and dance

Kalinga is a province of the Philippines and home to an indigenous people of the same name. Kalinga weaving, or laga, is traditionally done by women using five sticks on a backstrap loom. Laga is used to create blankets and traditional regalia, including be-e (men's g-string), tapis (women's skirt), and belts. Today, tribal members often wear Western clothing, but traditional clothing is still highly valued and worn during community celebrations, family celebrations, festivals, and rituals.

The woven skirts, belts and other articles are especially utilized in the presentation of the dances that may occur to celebrate the harvest, weddings, war and peace pacts. The dance movements were taken from the environment and earthly surroundings and carry different meanings and histories. The dances capture the beliefs, celebration, and movement of everyday life of the Kalinga people.

Jenny Bawer Young learned to weave from her maternal grandmother, Mambot Cusay, and her aunt, Alice Dumatog, in her native barangay, or neighborhood, of Mabilong, Lubuagen, in the Kalinga province. Jenny began weaving as a child, creating her first belt at the age of 10. Jenny is the only Kalinga weaver to have immigrated to California, and perhaps the entire United States.

Of her knowledge of laga weaving, Jenny says, "...If asked about what makes me Kalinga, it is my weaving. It is my identity. I want to keep it."

Jenny is also well versed in the traditional Kalinga dance of Lubuagan, learning dances such as the Banga dance from her father Cirilio "Sapi" Bawer a cultural bearer and co-founder of KAYAW (to "head hunt") Cultural Group of Lubuagan. Jenny started her training as a dancer at the age of six and her first exposure was attending a peace-pact celebration, in which two tribes were brought together to settle their differences after a contentious past. The dance and music played a central role in celebrating this reunion of people.

As a master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2016, Jenny will mentor her apprentice Kimberly Requesto in the practice of the indigenous Kalinga dance of the Phillipines.

Jenny was amaster artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2012, with apprentice Holly Calica. The apprenticeship began Holly's training in laga, covering the entire process from assembling a backstrap loom to weaving. Jenny and Holly documented the apprenticeship, sharing the learning process with the local and international Filipino community via the internet.


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0-Master artist Jenny Bawer Young (left) and Kimberly Requesto (Photo courtesy of Jenny Bawer Young)

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