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Master Quilter Looking for Fabric.

Myrl Deans was a Guest and spoke at one of our guild meetings in 2006.

Master Quilter needs more native fabrics for Mindanao masterpiece
By Mike Banos

Cagayan de Oro City – An American quilter who’s been bringing honor and prestige to the country and the city for the past two decades is now working on a masterpiece which she wants to make her legacy for her adopted country.
Myrl Lehman-Tapungot, a native of  Antlers, Oklahoma who’s called this city and country home since September 1, 1979, says the still unnamed six quilt collection would showcase Mindanao’s unique flora and fauna using the island’s indigenous textiles and fabrics.

"I’ve been here 28 years, made lovely things all over the world, I’d like to consider this my payback to the Philippines," Mrs. Tapungot told Business World. "But it has be something I can do that no one else can."

Although she is an American citizen, Mrs. Tapungot has carried the banner of the Philippines and Cagayan de Oro with pride through all the competitions she’s entered in the last two decades. She’s married to retired U.S. Navy serviceman Agustin Tapungot of Gusa, and they have three children: Mark, 49, who now works in Alaska; J.R., 48, now living in Springfield, Oregon; and Jasmine, 38, now settled in Jacksonville, Florida.

Two of  Mrs. Tapungot’s winning works are   Doorway to Dreamland II (1st place in the "Just For Fun" Quilts Made For The Joy of It Theme Awards, Large Quilt Category, National Quilting Association 31st Annual Quilt Show, June 22-25, 2000, Reno Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada and 2nd place for Pictorial Quilts, and the International Quilting Today Award, Quilt Yokohama Festival ’99, Japan: and The Enchanted Doorway II (1st Place, Group Quilt Category, Mary Leman Austin’s Judge’s Choice Award, International Quilt Association Festival, Oct 21-24, 1999, Houston, Texas and 2nd Place, Group Quilt Category, 17th Annual Q uilt Show and Contest of the American Quilter’s Society, April 25-28, 2001, Paducah, Kentucky.

Her planned legacy consists of a collection of quilts showcasing the endangered flora and fauna of Mindanao, using fabrics and textiles made by its indigenous peoples.
"I’ll be making six wall quilts sized about 50" X 60" (without borders) each with a particular theme," she said.
The collection consists of three quilts dedicated to the flora and fauna from the forests and mountains of Mindanao; one for the grasslands or pastures; one for the seas, coral reefs and its wildlife; and finally one for the marshlands such as the Liguasan and Agusan marshes.

The six ‘mixed media’ quilts would have hand painted and appliquéd centers, while the outside borders will be made of fabrics and textiles of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples.

"Besides featuring the island’s endangered species (flora and fauna), I also want the quilts to be repository of the crafts which produced Mindanao’s exotic textiles and fabrics. The craftsmanship of these indigenous peoples is worth preserving, and I want to help conserve that heritage through my quilts."

She said the mixed media quilts would be similar to her multi-awarded "Enchanted Doorway II" but ‘much better.’

So far, Mrs. Tapungot’s collected fabrics have come from Mindanao’s Moro tribes like the Maranao who produce the balud, hand woven using the back strap loom and the ikat, patterns painstakingly hand-dyed using individual threads and silk rope; the Yakan and Sinaluan of the Yakan tribesmen of Basilan, also hand woven into exquisite patterns and used for their traditional dress. She’s been collecting fabrics from all over the island for the last eight years but admits she needs help.

"I’d like to also use fabrics from the lumads like the T’bolis T’nalak," she said. "If my project merits the support of the tribal elders, I hope they can also help recommend their finest fabrics for inclusion in this project." She hopes to tap the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples in identifying more fabrics and coordinating with individual tribes and elders as to which fabric goes best with each quilt’s theme.

She also plans to enlist the help of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help her select the flora and fauna to be featured in her collection, as well as ensure that the animals and plants featured in her quilts are faithful reproductions of the real thing in looks and colors.

"I’ve gotten the folks back in the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao to send me some molted feathers from the Philippine Eagle to make sure I get its colors right when the Haribon gets its rightful place in one of my three forest themed quilts," she said.

"When I’m through, I dream of having this collection exhibited in choice places where they can help people of Mindanao, the Philippines and the world appreciate the vanishing flora and fauna of our country which has made it the world’s center of biodiversity," Mrs. Tapungot says. "At the same time, I’d also like to help stress urgency for the preservation of the vanishing heritage of Mindanao’s fabrics which is slowly dying with the elder folk and not taken up by the younger generations."

Ultimately, she plans to auction of the collection, "preferably to someone from Mindanao, or at least the Philippines," and use part of the proceeds to help fund programs which shall help school children appreciate the unique flora and fauna which has made their country the world’s center of biodiversity, as well as the arts and culture of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples as showcased through their fabrics stitched to her quilts.

"I’d like to start putting them together next month but I need more fabrics and hope there are folks out there who share my passion for the preservation of these fine fabrics," she said.

Myrl Lehman-Tapungot
PO Box 21
Cagayan De Oro City
9000 Philippines
cell 63-917-812-6975
USA Tel. 1-702-430-9456

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