Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Igbaras Knotters and Weavers Association

The municipality of Igbaras has institutionalized its abaca handicraft industry recently by establishing the Igbaras Knotters and Weavers Association (IKWA).The town is now known as a high-quality producer of woven abaca fabric.

Years ago, Igbaras, along with Miagao, Oton, Badiangan and Duenas, were heavy producers of hand-loomed fabrics such as habon and patadyong. However, as years passed, the increasing demand for abaca posted a challenge to these weaving municipalities. With this, the municipal government of Igbaras headed by their tourism-oriented municipal mayor, Hon. Vicente E. Escorpion started gearing their initiatives towards the development of its developing abaca handicraft industry.

my Events Management students from University of Iloilo-PHINMA for their exposure trip in preparation for their culminating event, the 5th Indigenous Fiber Fashion Fair, October 17-20, 2012 at SM City Iloilo

The demand for abaca is at all-time high, the local government encouraged the development of its fiber-craft industry.  Fiber-craft products like abaca fabrics, table runners, hats, linens and handbags are very much in demand abroad. Proof to its viability, the municipal mayor established the Igbaras Weaving Center in Barangay Sta. Barbara in April of 2012 in recognition to the thriving abaca weaving industry of this town.

The weaving and production of various of hand-woven products has long been practiced by Igbarasnons but the production of abaca was introduced in Igbaras only 2009 when the local government was assisted by FIDA in conducting a basic training on weaving for abaca. The Philippines' Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) is a government agency under the Department of Agriculture that is responsible for promoting the accelerated growth and development of the Philippine fiber industry. The assistance provided by the FIDA to the weavers of Igbaras was by way of training weavers of good quality production practices

IKWA is currently producing pure abaca fiber or blended with cotton or polyester. It is said that this fiber is three times stronger than cotton and silk fiber and could last for many years. According to center president, Miss Anabelle L. Elbanbuena, despite the many challenges, the abaca fabrics of IKWA have continuously been proven to be saleable and profitable, as manifested by the sales reports of recent local trade fairs and exhibits where these products were showcased.

Presently, there are five looms at the center and another five were distributed in households nearby, with 15 women weavers in the center; ten from the same group function as knotters, who have shown full interest in abaca weaving.

The weavers and knotters of IKWA are the families living in Barangay Sta. Barbara. The center has now become the sole provider of abaca fabrics to local designers. The abric has evolved into a fine high-end fabric. Slowly, it is weaving its way into the fashion scene. Known designers in Iloilo such as International Lifestyle Designer PJ Aranador, Nono Palmos, Jaki Penalosa,  Totong Gellangarin, Sidney Eculla, Jor-el Espina, Ram Silva, John Montinola, Ian Jorda, Lexter Badana and bag designer Blithe Sanchez- O’Discroll and have featured this fiber in their fashion shows. These talented Ilonggos have been doing their share in promoting this fabric by using them in their creation.

handmade abaca bags by Ilongga designer Blithe Sanchez O'Driscoll at 09472722169

The Iloilo Provincial Government through the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism with SM City Iloilo organized and staged the Indigenous Fashion Fiber Fair in 2008 to showcase one of Iloilo’s know fabric, the abaca. In 2011, the Napulak Ladies Circle of Igbaras sashayed on stage with their abaca gowns for the same event.

Now on its 5th year, PRIMA, a fashion show segment featuring the municipality of Igbaras through the Napulak Lades Circle in their abaca evening wear will once again hit the runway at the activity center of SM City Iloilo on October 17, 2012 at 6 in the evening. The weavers of IKWA will present their hand-woven products on the event’s trade fair, demonstration and exhibit area of the same mall on October 17-20, 2012. Let us give our full support in the local production and use of our local fibers. 

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