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Soccksargen's art gallery supporting IP artisans opens in Koronadal City

kō. LlaB Gallery, a social enterprise founded by Jared Cloyde Palmejar and Sofia Jude Palmejar that aims to support local artisans from the Indigenous People’s (IP) communities in the Soccsksargen region, opened on June 16, 2023, in Marville Subdivision, Koronadal City.

The father-daughter duo behind kō. LlaB Gallery intends to not only showcase their artistry but also highlight the unique work of IP artisans in the region, creating a win-win collaborative effort.

"Our gallery is the result of a collaboration with artisans in South Cotabato, and we have plans to expand our partnerships to the entire region," said Sofia.

"We are focused on working with IP communities to help promote their products and showcase the unique artistry of their artisans."

The duo were previously based in Manila, but they decided to return to Koronadal City to pursue their idea of helping local artisans promote their products. Sofia is focused on designing for women, from accessories and ready-to-wear clothing to bags. They are also aiming to bring the region's products to the international fashion scene.

Sofia took up a Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Fashion Design at the Philippine Women’s College in Davao City. After she graduated in 2015, she moved to Manila to immerse herself in the fashion scene. Although she admits that her knowledge of fashion was limited at first, her exposure to the industry in Manila helped her gain the knowledge and experience she needed to establish herself and her advocacy.

In 2015, Jared, who is known as “Jared Servano,” won 2nd place in the fourth season of Project Runway Philippines. This achievement opened up a multitude of opportunities for him in his career as a designer.

Jared is focused on designing men's wear and developing new products. They have participated in various community immersions in the region, an initiative led by Sofia, until they came up with the idea of establishing a hub for local artisans.

"We have been involved in cultural work for quite some time and saw the need for a hub for artisans in Mindanao," said Jared."All of the products in the gallery are handcrafted by our IP, and we welcome all artisans to join us. Our goal is to provide a platform for these talented individuals to showcase their work and share their unique artistry with the world."

After facing challenges during the pandemic, Jared and Sofia were finally able to open their gallery to the public. They have collaborated with various groups, agencies, and local governments to create inclusive partnerships with different sectors.

As culture-based designers, Jared and Sofia have a deep respect for customary IP laws. Every time they create something, they make sure to involve the tribe and follow their guidelines. They take the time to learn about the dos and don'ts to ensure that their work is respectful and culturally sensitive.

They believe in a fair sharing of income with the artisans they collaborate with. In addition, they give back to their partner communities by providing scholarship grants to IP youth. They also work to establish direct links between local artisans and the market, supporting and empowering them while also promoting their unique art.

"We hope to help many more artisans through our gallery. We established this gallery for them so that they wouldn't have to struggle to market their products,” Jared pointed out.

Meanwhile, Jared's daughter Sophia said: "I hope to continue expanding my ideas in terms of design and never stop learning. I believe that there is always room for growth and improvement, and I am constantly seeking new inspiration and knowledge to enhance my work and better serve the artisans we collaborate with." (Genory Vanz Alfasain/Voice of the Youth Network/PIA SarGen)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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