Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMC) exhibition booth featuring Benguet weaving stood out at the three-day Mining Philippines 2019 International Conference at Sofitel, Manila on September 10-12.
All the way from Mankayan Benguet – the host municipality of Lepanto’s mine camp – the company brought to the exhibit one of its vintage looms and its local weavers to showcase not just the traditional Benguet textiles, but the intricacy behind it.
Products displayed at the booth were handwoven bags and purses in various sizes, table runners, shawls and their sought-after blankets made of imported boucle yarns that come in different colors. Crowds flocked to the booth not just to buy the products and take pictures, but also got their hands on the loom and experienced how to weave.
It should be noted that before Narda’s, Sagada Weaving and Easter Weaving in Baguio City came to be, there was the Lepanto Crafts, which tribal weavers in the region refer to as one of the forerunners of the Cordillera weaving industry.
Lepanto weaving started in the early 1950s, when Mrs. Lucille Foster, the wife of Lepanto’s General Superintendent then, organized the Lepanto Women’s Club and introduced weaving as one of the organization’s livelihood projects. Their woven products became in demand then, reaching as far as Baguio Country Club and Manila Hotel. It even found its way abroad, like London and the USA. Its heyday lasted for almost two decades, ending when the Fosters left Lepanto. In 2015, through the initiative of LCMC’s President and COO Bryan U. Yap, Lepanto decided to revive weaving as a livelihood program.
LCMC’s Communications Head Butch Mendizabal said that Lepanto’s booth this year highlights company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, and weaving is just one of the many CSR programs that the company has been nurturing over the years.
“More than just being an extractive business, mining has the heart that fosters a strong and vibrant community. We want the world to see that the mining industry is a social enterprise, helping our surrounding communities grow with us,” added LCMC’s VP for HR and CSR Mr. Knestor Jose Y. Godino.
One of the many components of the #LepantoCares, the company’s rebranded CSR program, is about cultural preservation. Besides weaving, Lepanto also has been supporting the Lepanto National High School Gambang Theater Guild, a local school-based theater arts group that has been gaining nationwide recognition. Through their assistance, the company rolls out every summer a theater arts workshop, teaching the community children in Mankayan about the traditional Benguet dances.
“Culture will always be an integral part of our business. It is who we are as a company. Lepanto exists because of our culture and heritage and we must never forget this”, Bryan U. Yap, LCMC’s President and COO shared.