The Philippine basketry exhibit first graced Pagdiriwang in 2001 and since then has been a regular feature of the festival. Since Pagdiriwang was supposed to be a showcase of Filipino culture, Melanie Paredes, the exhibitor of Philippine basketry, thought that Philippine weave–both basketry and textile–should be an organic part of the celebrations. With an eye for art and a practitioner of the minimalist school of design, she had the knack for arranging the baskets and other artifacts of mostly Igorot origin to maximum effect.
She attributes her attraction to the minimalist style from her Mom, the late Bibiana Q. Corcoro. She explains that a cursory look at basketry provides the viewer a glimpse into the life and environment of the people who wove and used the baskets. For example, there were basket designs that held newly cooked rice and snacks, husking rice seeds, newly harvested vegetables and rice, etc. Melanie further explains that basketry and weave give us a look into the frugal lives of the weavers. Just as the Igorots adapted to their mountainous environment by carving terraces out of the mountainsides to create flat arable land for planting, baskets provided the wherewithal to store their tools and the food that they need to nourish them as they went about their task of eking out a living out of the difficult terrain. The weave designs, however, exhibited individual creativity and utility, providing a product that is functional, beautiful and durable.
Textile weaves show the diversity of Filipino culture. For example, the colorful designs of the Cordilleras are distinct ftrom that of the Muslim South or of the Tagalog regions. Baskets, on the other hand, show the sturdy quality of the people as they adapt to the vicissitudes of life and the unique environments of the islands, at once mountainous, scraggly or surrounded by water. Through the art of basketry and weaving, we are provided a glimpse into the aspirations of a people.