State funeral for Fu Yabing, Manlilikha ng Bayan, on February 10

POLOMOLOK, South Cotabato (MindaNews / 30 January) – Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo,  a Blaan weaver honored as Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasure),  will be laid to rest with state honors on Wednesday, February 10,  her grandson said Saturday.

Arthur Gulili, the family spokesperson,  said the burial site of his grandmother,  who was fondly called Fu Yabing, will be on the land where the traditional weaving center that she established in her community stands.  The funeral rites will include a 21-gun salute, he said.

Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo receives her National Living Treasure Award from President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang in 2018. Screengrab from RVTM/Presidential Communications

A state funeral is among the benefits and privileges of an awarded of the Gawad sa Manliklikha ng Bayan (Gamaba),  the arrangements for and the expenses of which shall be borne by the Government.

Born on August 8, 1914, Fu Yabing died in her sleep at around 12:30 a.m. on  January 26. She was 106.

Fu Yabing’s wake in a multi-function hall in the midst of their community in Sitio Amgu-o, Barangay Landan here is open to the public but strict health protocols are being observed due to COVID-19.  The function hall is near the weaving center.

The remains of Blaan weaver and Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo will be buried on the land where this weaving center she established, stands in Polomolok, South Cotabato on February 10. Fu Yabing died in her sleep at 12:30 a.m. on January 26, at the age of 106. MindaNews photo by ZAKI C. SARMIENTO

Gulili said his grandma was in and out of the hospital last year and was on her sickbed in the past two months

She was a master of mabal tabih, the art of ikat (reserve dyeing) and weaving. Mabal is a Blaan term for the weaving process using abaca fiber while tabih refers to the finished hand woven cloth and also the traditional B’laan tubular skirt or malong.

Fu Yabing was declared a national living treasure on January 6, 2017, through Republic Act 7355, which institutionalized the Gamaba, for keeping alive the Blaan’s traditional weaving process and sharing her skills with others, including her community members.

She accepted the award from President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 during a formal ceremony at the Malacañan Palace in Manila.

“We will be forever grateful to her for the pride that she brought to the Blaan tribe,” Gulili said. “She left a legacy that our generation will continue and will pass on to the next one.”

Fu Yabing was selected as a national living treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the government agency tasked to administer and implement the Gamaba award.

“Her peerless mastery of the Blaan Mabal Tabih is manifest in her impeccable work,” the NCCA said in announcing her death. “Her exemplary oeuvre has brought pride to her community, animating the interest of many young Blaan in their remarkable cultural heritage.”

Fu Yabing Masalon Dulo, a Blaan weaver honored as Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasure), will be laid to rest with state honors on February 10, 2021. She passed away on January 26 in Polomolok , South Cotabato, on January 26 at the age of 106. MindaNews photo by ZAKI C. SARMIENTO

According to the NCCA,  the award is conferred on those who possess a mastery of tools and materials needed for the traditional, folk art and be a maker of works of extraordinary technical quality; have consistently produced works of superior quality over significant period; have engaged in a traditional and folk art which has been in existence and documented for at least 50 years; command respect and inspire admiration of the country with his character and integrity; and must have transferred and/or willing to transfer to other members of the community the skills in the traditional and folk arts for which the community has become nationally known.

“A candidate who, due to age or infirmity, has left him/her/them incapable of teaching further his/her/their craft, may still be recognized provided that he/she/they must possess the qualifications as enumerated above,” the NCCA said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)