In a small shop tucked in one of the historic walls in the city, a woman highlighted the uniqueness of this roll of t‘nalak from a T’boli community on Lake Sebu in Mindanao. A male weaver made this, she said, and male dreamweavers are not very common. Many know of the T’bolis’ weaving tradition, how the weavers’ dreams translate into patterns in their work. In a way, dreams do not only come true; dreams do come through.

It was a convincing selling point: a male dreamweaver. More so, this t’nalak is beautiful. As a sucker for symbolism and with a swelling appreciation, it was a clear purchase.

It is interesting to hold someone’s dream, to feel the intricacy of the craft. The patterns do not make sense most of the time, but on occasional gazes at the play of shapes and lines, sometimes they seem to take the form of a mythical figure, perhaps a warrior. Perhaps a shield. It is earthy, generally grounded. Male.

The tasks of these dreamweavers come to mind on those days when dreams do not make sense, whether they come with slumber or in a flash of inspiration. The message is quite straightforward, really: you dream it and you get to work. Sometimes you create patterns that require recognition, sometimes they end up in someone’s hands, becoming something else, alive. Or maybe you can let it be, a mere dream, staying as it is.


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