The resplendent tune of shared memories once whispered in the shade of grand narratives, resonates in the works of Aileen Lanuza, a reminder of the bonds that transcend time and place. This symphony of roots does not merely play out in the recesses of memory; for Lanuza, they are stories we continue to tell and live today—and such is how the story of the Filipina is vested in the Maria Clara.

Working closely with Mindanaoan artisans of Kaayo, a collective dedicated to telling our woven stories, Lanuza hearkens back to our roots, using indigenous weaves from tribes across the region in her compositions. Each thread, each brushstroke traces a strand of a long and rich history, woven into symphonic tapestries. Each creation carries the weight of ages past, a tale of triumph and struggle, that echoes through time. “I share the same passion as Kaayo in maintaining our roots and bringing forth our custom indigenous weaves that are inherently Filipino,” she shares. “It is important for me in my works to highlight the best of what we are, maintaining our identity and always bearing the power to be who we are.” Strong, grounded, proud, and unshakeable, these are the women that Lanuza portrays in her works while continuing to embrace the ever-evolving cadence of the world we now live in.

Relating her experiences as a modern Filipina, the artist delineates a heritage that is not just a relic of the past, but one whose tune we always carry, resounding in everything we do and constantly redefining who we are and can be. Her signature floral compositions follow the movement, form, and eloquence of the Maria Clara, capturing its timelessness, its quiet intensity, and the enduring flourish of its beauty.

As flowers cascade across the images and envelop the figures, the Maria Clara’s distinctive butterfly sleeves stand out. Lanuza renders the weave of the piña delicately but with marked vigor, capturing the unique materiality of its fibers and encapsulating the ingenuity of the art’s practitioners. Characterized by its firm texture and gossamer fineness, it is a textile treasure prized for its ability to carry intricate embroidery and hold its own.

As Lanuza composes this symphony of roots, attuned to the tenacity and enduring brilliance of the Mindanaoan women who keep this heritage alive, each thread, each brushstroke is a note, entwining the destinies of those who hear its call.

Text by Gabrielle Gonzales