Lang Dúlay was already a young mother at the time of the Japanese Occupation during World War II. Through those turbulent years, she wove t’nálak cloth made from a fine variety of abacá that grew in the highlands of Southern Mindanao. A long lifetime of weaving has earned her a reputation as a master in her community. In 1998 she was awarded the Philippine national prize for traditional artists (Gáwad Manlilikhá ng Báyan). Since then, she has traveled many times to Manila and also as far as Washington, D.C., where she was a participating artist at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Although she can neither read nor write, Mrs. Dúlay maintains a bank account into which her lifetime stipend is deposited every month. She has used some of this funding to found and run a school for T’bóli weaving next to her home
Beh (esteemed grandmother) Lang, as she is fondly called, cuts a familiar figure in her community when she takes time out to visit one of her many grandchildren, perched on the back of a taxi-motorcycle with the key to her safe hanging around her neck. She is proudest of her role as grandmother to an entire village, including many youngsters she has put through school. Now in her eighties, she no longer sits at the loom, as that is a task she gives to her senior students, but she has not stopped teaching and she continues to dream—the source of many of the ikat patterns that she still ties and dyes herself.