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Friday, 22 August 2014
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Narda’s is a project of Wilson and Narda Capuyan that started in 1970 in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines weaving blankets from recycled acrylic yarn. Narda Capuyan, a family planning nurse whose hand-knitting hobby attracted the mothers, encouraged the women to weave to keep them busy from making more babies. Weaving is a traditional skill and our indigenous women have now become productive weavers. The blankets were saleable as they were warm and washable. Business was brisk so Narda took out a bank loan to expand but misfortune struck when a big client issued genuine dollar checks of pensioners that the bank accepted good as cash but which later bounced as it turned out to have been stolen from the post office and the signatures forged. Narda’s was on the brink of collapse but the bank officers helped by referring her to the five star hotels they were financing which paved the way to expanding her product lines to hotel furnishings such as curtains and upholstery fabrics.

Through series of experimentations, Narda revived the Cordillera Ikat tradition designing and dyeing threads in vibrant colors to suit contemporary taste. Ikat is a very old tradition of tying and dyeing segments of threads bfore actual weaving. Narda’s new style of ikat in placemats, shawls, and bags became a hit to foreign buyers.

The big break came in 1982 when Bloomingdale’s Department Store in New York featured Narda’s products in an all-Philippine sales exhibition. The show popularized Narda’s products and brought her to Japan, Europe and Canada. Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Marshal Fields in the U.S.A. and Hudson’s Bay in Canada were some of Narda’s initial buyers.

The highly innovative direction that the work has taken garnered for Narda’s in 1982, the GOLDEN SHELL AWARD – the most prestigious award given by the Ministry of Trade for excellence in exports and for reviving a dying indigenous art.

Many other awards followed but more significant was the outstanding COUNTRYSIDE INVESTOR AWARD presented to Narda’s by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1989. The Philippine Marketing Association also recognized Narda’s very forward, and uncomplicated network open for the indigenous entrepreneur; propelling the Philippine’s export industry to better heights and for this, they awarded her the AGORA AWARD.

In 1999 Narda Capuyan was selected as one of the 100 Women of the Philippines who have excelled in their work and contributed to national development.

Narda’s provided regular jobs to over 600 Cordillera women weavers, until the earthquake hit Baguio in 1990. Narda’s spearheaded “Baguio Isubli Tayo” (Let Us Rebuild Baguio) along with other Baguio Producers by having Earthquake Sales in Manila to help generate jobs in Baguio. Narda’s handwoven fabrics were used as interior furnishings of the Presidential Mansion House, the Coconut Palace and Malacañang Palace. Narda’s was presented the Baguio Builders Award by the City of Baguio during its Centennial Celebration in 2009.

The Global Warming concern led Narda to a return to nature direction. Joining other international textile designers, Narda’s Eco-Fiber Wall Hangings, were exhibited for three months in 2006 at the World Eco Fiber and Textile (W.E.F.T) Exhibition at the Petronas Towers Galeri in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Narda’s Ikat were featured at New York’s Couture Fashion Week held at Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in New York and at the World Eco-Fiber & Textile (W.E.F.T.) Exhibit Fashion Show, “From Waste to Wealth” – Narda’s Magic of Woven Waste Leather in Ikat held at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia both in September 2012.

Leonarda O. Capuyan was named the Philippines Ernst & Young Small Business Entrepreneur of The Year in October 2013. It is the World’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.

Narda’s continue to provide livelihood to hundreds of women weavers in the Cordillera’s.