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Anicito Degay: Igorot Master Artisan Crafting Dragon Headdresses in Quirino

Explore the cultural legacy of Anicito Degay, the Igorot artisan behind iconic dragon headdresses in Patiacan, Quirino, Ilocos Sur.

 |  3 min read

Discover the unique blend of tradition and creativity as Anicito Degay weaves dreams into dragon headdresses in scenic Quirino, Ilocos Sur.

Anicito Degay: Artisan of Patiacan's Iconic Dragon Headdresses

In the Igorot village of Brgy. Patiacan, Quirino, Ilocos Sur, resides Mang Anicito Degay, a 63-year-old Igorot artisan weaving dreams into reality through exceptional craftsmanship. Inspired by vivid dreams featuring mythical creatures, his creations epitomize a unique blend of tradition and creativity.

Anicito Degay, the Igorot maestro, delicately weaves dreams into vibrant dragon headdresses. Photo: Michael Escobar

A Fiber Tale: Crafting Dreams with Bannito or Nito

Mang Anicito's artistic journey commenced in high school in Tublay, Benguet. Initially crafting simple hats, he embarked on a transformative path inspired by dreams featuring dragons and women adorned with bird hats. What distinguishes Mang Anicito's creations is the use of a special fiber known as "bannito" or "nito," sourced from the challenging terrain of nearby mountains. Despite the four-hour trek to obtain this material, Mang Anicito's dedication remains unwavering.

Draco and Beyond: The Masterpiece Unveiled

His dedication reached its pinnacle with the creation of Draco, a masterpiece unfolding over three months. Beyond showcasing artistic prowess, Draco symbolizes a commitment to pushing creative boundaries, with intricate details standing testament to the profound connection between dreams and artistic expression.

Upheld by Community: A Living Treasure's Legacy

Recognizing Mang Anicito's talents, local leaders, including Hon Chavit Singson and Hon DV Savellano, provided unwavering support. The torch of encouragement is now carried by the current leadership, with Mayor Allen Nimo and Governor Ryan Singson actively championing Mang Anicito's unique creations at festivals like the Kannawidan Ylocos Festival.

Anicito Degay's hands weave dreams into reality, crafting exquisite dragon headdresses that stand as cultural symbols in Quirino. Photo: Michael Escobar

Artistic Reverence: Mang Anicito's Influence on Influential Figures

A fascinating testament to Mang Anicito's artistry lies in the headdresses worn by influential Cordillerans like former Baguio Mayor Domogan and Baguio Councilor Vladimir Cayabas-both natives of Patiacan. While not officially confirmed, the uncanny similarity strongly suggests Mang Anicito's profound influence, echoing his unique artistic style. This intriguing synergy not only underscores the cultural bond shared by Mang Anicito and these figures but also amplifies the lasting impact of his artistry.

Passing the Torch: Nurturing Future Artisans

Governor Ryan Singson and Mayor Nimo recognize the importance of preserving Mang Anicito's Living Treasure talent, urging the youth to learn from this master artisan. The commitment of the current administration to sustain and promote Mang Anicito's legacy underscores the cultural significance attached to his work.

Mentorship in Action: A Living Legend Shares Knowledge

Having already imparted his skills to two eager adults, Mang Anicito's open mentorship ensures the continuity of the intricate art of crafting dreams through nito. This passing of knowledge from one generation to the next is crucial for preserving the cultural heritage that Mang Anicito embodies.

Embracing Tradition: A Future of Nito Artistry

In conclusion, Mang Anicito Degay stands as a living testament to the rich cultural heritage of Quirino, Ilocos Sur. His ability to turn dreams into tangible art, coupled with unwavering community support, positions him as a Living Treasure. As the call echoes for the youth to embrace this unique art form, Mang Anicito's legacy becomes not just a personal achievement but a shared cultural heritage, destined to be cherished and preserved for generations to come.


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