My Piña, My Story

In 1967, when I was taking a special study on Chinese Painting at the Chinese Artist Guild under Professor Chen Bing Sun, I was using silk imported from China which was available at the studio for my painting among handmade papers of bamboo, cotton and rice papers as well as natural paints extracted from nature. I was so fascinated on oriental techniques that it became a major influence on my style of painting especially focused on the classical Chinese painting. Also, I took lessons on the Lingnan techniques although briefly under the tutelage of Hau Chiok.

While I was painting on silk at that time at home, my grandmother Presca Meñez Aguirre gave me 10 meters of pure liniwan piña fabric. It was her last piña cloth she had woven. I didn't see her weave while I was growing up but she kept her piña cloth and brought it along when our family migrated to Manila when I was 8 years old. I was already working in a company when I was taking Chinese painting on weekends. My Lola saw me paint on silk. She brought out her 10-meter piña from her old chest, handed it to me and said, "someday you might use this, India". It was the first time I saw a piña cloth, so fine, so exquisite! I was wide eyed, I never thought Kalibo, Aklan produces this kind of fabric. Immediately I wanted to make it my personal advocacy to promote it as a versatile cloth by using it as my medium for my paintings. I then realized later that the gesture my grandmother, Lola Pincay (I fondly call her) did, was like a tradition that is handed down from a generation to the next to continue. I promised myself then, I will do my part to continue my grandmother's legacy. I have gone through challenges but I cannot give up because my grandmother would in my dream see her crying so vivid that I can see her eyes red with tears flowing. Through the years I am still doing what I promised my grandmother to actively do my part in safeguarding Aklan tradition of Piña Weaving. I left a good job in Canada to go home to Aklan for good, for I believe I can also earn in dollars even in Aklan. God was and is instrumental for me to chose home in Aklan. He made me be part of the piña revivals in the province. For God, also chose what business I would go into...a weaving company, for I planned a different one. He even paved ways for me to be part of the piña promotions in several countries.

Up to this day I paint on piña still being motivated by my grandmother, Lola Pincay's legacy.