On Jan. 26, it was announced that Manlilikha ng Bayan Yabing Masalon Dulo, or Fu Yabing, passed away at the age of 106.
“Her exemplary oeuvre has brought pride to her community, animating the interest of many young B’laan in their remarkable cultural heritage,” the National Commission for Culture and the Arts wrote of the master weaver.
Fu Yabing is one of the two master designers of the B’laan tribe’s mabal tabih art of dyeing and weaving. She started weaving at the age of 14, creating two “tabih” (handwoven dyed abaka) masterpieces. One of these pieces is displayed at the National Museum.
Her works have also been exhibited at the Wow Mindanao Tourism Expo in Davao in 2004, and the ASEAN Traditional Textiles Symposium at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2009.
In 2005, Fu Yabing served as cultural master for the B’laan Weaving School of Living Tradition Project implemented at Sitio Lamlifew, Sarangani Province. She was also a partner for cultural preservation in Sarangani under former governor Migs Dominguez’ Indigenous Peoples Development Program (IPDP).
To help preserve mabal tabih art, Fu Yabing taught the craft to her only daughter, Lamina Dulo Gulili, and to women in the community.
In 2017, Fu Yabing was awarded the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), or the National Living Treasures Award, alongside Yakan weaver Ambalang Ausalin and B’laan mat weaver Estelita Tumandan Bantilan.[READ: 3 female weavers from Mindanao officially join the roster of Manlilikha ng Bayan]
The recognition is given to “individuals who excel in various indigenous arts, customs, and traditional practices which may include, but are not limited to, folk architecture, maritime transport, weaving, carving, performing arts, literature, graphic and plastic art, ornament, textile and fiber art, pottery, and other artistic expressions of traditional culture.”