SAN FRANCISCO – Renowned weaver India Dela Cruz-Legaspi has been using Philippine Pina fabric as a medium for her artwork for years.
And now, she’s using her craft to help children with autism.
She partnered with the San Francisco-based Autism Hearts Foundation to teach autistic children how to paint on Pina cloth and in the process improve their attention span and artistic abilities.
“Learning something new and helping their characters as they grow older would really increase the balance of who they are and it helps in learning traditional crafts and also making livelihood out of it,” said Dela Cruz-Legaspi. “It’s really fulfilling.”
Originally made from the leaves of a pineapple plant, Pina fabric is processed to produce silk-like threads to be used in common Filipino attire like the barong tagalog.
In a recent Philippine gala, fashion designer Anthony Legarda featured two gowns that had hand-painted designs on the Pina fabric done by autistic artists.
A fashion show that will feature more pieces by autistic artists in scheduled for next year.
The fashion show will begin next year with stops in San Francisco, New York, and Geneva through collaborations with the United Nations World Health Organizations, the different Philippine consulates, and other NGOs.
“We hope that we are raising awareness not only awareness about the disorder but also on our culture through our fabrics and that we do have wonderful potential with these artists that they can be the best they can be and our textiles can be the best it can be all over the world,” said Lynda Borromeo who is the founder of Autism Hearts Foundation.
Borromeo and Dela Cruz-Legaspi would like more kababayans to be more in touch with Philippine fabrics like the Pina in order to maintain and promote the culture.
“Since the Pina is very hard to weave we develop patience,” said Dela Cruz-Legaspi. “We are a happy people in our province and I think it’s the training of the people through the traditions that we have that could really develop us as a good person.”
“Let’s show the world that they truly are amazing and we have those hidden talents that they really need to showcase,” said Borromeo.
This September the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco will be featuring The Hinabi Project which highlights the Pina fabric and other Philippine textiles.