Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Threads to Miagao: The First Hablon Festival

Supermodel Ria Bolivar of Dumangas, Iloilo in Ram Silva hablon gown

The First Hablon Festival in Miagao on September 15-17, 2014 is one of the must-see events in Iloilo. Visitors are sure to see many hand-woven fabrics and products for sale. At first glance, one may not realize the quality of these fabrics; fewer are aware of the long history and importance weaving has played in Miagao society. The fabrics are not only beautiful and unique, but they provide a means for visitors to appreciate indigenous culture of the town.

With the theme, “Hablon, Panapton sang Panahon: Ipabugal kag Pasanyugon,” the First Hablon Festival opens with a Float Contest on the Opening Parade on September 15 at 3:00 P. M.; Opening of Heritage Hablon Display Contest and Food Fair at the JRBB Hall,4:30 p.m., and Opening Program at 4:45 p.m. Day 2 (September 16) Opening of Photo Exhibit at JRBB Hall at 9 a.m.; On-the-spot Essay Writing Contest for 3rd and 4th year students at the JRBB Hall at 9:30 a.m.; Social Presentation by the Ibugo Parish and OSCA at the JRBB Hall, 3 p.m. Day 3 (September 17) Fashion Show at the JRBB Hall at 6 p.m. For more information, please contact Mr. Arli Nim at 09332124066 or Mr. Anthony Selorio at 09391737407.

It was in the 18th century when Iloilo was referred to as the “Textile Capital of the Philippines” where hand-loomed produce such were exported to Manila and to other foreign countries. Textile goods were the most popular exports of Iloilo and that almost half of the products exported at that time were hand-loomed fabrics. There has been a tremendous demand for these fabrics. The weavers of Miagao contributed a lot in ushering this era of unparalleled prosperity for the Ilonggos.

Girls learn to weave before they reach puberty, and women spend nearly all their spare time spinning or weaving on wooden looms. “Habol” or “hinabol” made only of fibrous natural materials. At that time, pineapple (pina), banana (jusi) and abaca fibers were the materials of choice, but synthetic fibers is now the most readily available medium. The beautiful and practical creations of patadyong and hablon fabrics are works of art. Hand-woven cloths are still used for making runners, table cloths, pillow cases, handkerchief, bags and shawls. They are popular gift items especially among foreigners as it is a beautiful reminder of their adventure in Iloilo.

Many women in Miagao still depend on weaving as their main source of income and had become a popular income-generating activity in the community. Weaving in Barangays Indag-an, Valencia, Pungtod Naulid, Kirayan Tacas and Banbanan is a popular community-based tourism activity of Miagao.  Weavers labor in cooperative workshops for around 8-10 hours daily, while others work in their homes to alternate their weaving with their domestic chores. As the men walk kilometers to their fields, women stay home to raise their babies and weave. They are not paid at an hourly wage, but rather for the completed fabric sold per meter in the local market.

The weaving of the traditional fabrics is a skill that has been passed from one generation of women to the next for centuries. It has traditionally been, and still is, important in this municipality. Today, the cloths provide a valuable source of income for women in an area where unemployment is prevalent. The fabrics are especially valued because they are now used in office and school uniforms and in its traditional cultural events and festivities.

Visitors can experience and assist in the cultural preservation of the town. Known for their iconic colourful patadyong and hablon fabrics, weavers are involved in sharing weaving techniques and processes, as well as selling these beautiful hand-loom fabrics.

Tourism is an integral part and an important sector in Miagao. Considering the wealth of natural resources and historical attractions, it is critical that sustainable tourism is a focus of the industry. Ecotourism in the town is a diverse segment of the industry that includes conservation and preservation efforts of historical landmarks, nature, and communities, through economic and socio-cultural initiatives. In addition to these efforts, there are a number of initiatives that the municipal government had been focusing on, and that is nurturing local communities and their involvement in this industry.

The sustainability of any tourism industry depends on involving and benefiting the locals, both socio-culturally and economically.

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