Monday, July 30, 2018

Weaving Communities: A Treasure of a Find

Iloilo province is renowned for handloom weaving. In the late 18th century, our hand-loom textiles were highly regarded and have been sought after trade items. Commercial production of hand-woven textiles has been an important element of the Ilonggo economy making Iloilo as the Textile Capital of the Philippines at that time.

Presently, there are still towns particularly known for their weaving barangays, mostly though are far from the provincial capital. Most of these weaving barangays can be reached through a long drive on narrow and somewhat winding roads and others are through hilly areas before descending to a small community in the middle of nowhere. For the handloom textile lovers, it certainly is a treasure of a find.

The most popular weaving towns in Iloilo is Miagao, Oton, Badiangan, Igbaras and Duenas from which comes some of the most versatile Hablon (a hand-woven fabric from polyester threads combined with cotton threads) and Patadyong (a multi-colored handloom cotton woven usually with narrow width) the world has ever seen.

In these barangays, a considerable number of people, mostly women still weave textiles during their spare time in between rice planting and harvesting but are actively involved in producing fabrics for sale to visitors and to send to markets far and wide. These weaving families have been around for generations. They gather together to share and preserve knowledge of different weaving techniques and collaborate on producing fine grades of cloths.

It is pleasing to see young girls at the side of their mothers while they prepare their looms. In the process the girls watch and learn from a very early age. They soon start weaving too and with lots of work and dedication they become fine weavers. In this way this great art is passed from generation to generation and helps us maintain our identity.

Families of weavers take pride in their work to make a supplementary income during their spare time from farming. They weave blankets, tablecloths, placemats, table runners and yardage lengths for making clothes. Practical and for everyday use, these textiles are just as attractive and classy in their own special way.

The cloths are woven as plain pastel colors, in stripes and a combination of alternated with geometric patterns woven much like embroidery done on the loom. Others are still incorporating traditional patterns, designs and motifs. Rich dark browns, greens and warm reds and oranges are combined in textural background weaves to yield cloths unique to their area. They also produce innovative contemporary pieces for urban clienteles.

Despite all the challenges of this craft, there have been revivals of traditional weaving in many communities where it was nearly lost.

So, if you are heading to Iloilo for the first time, be sure to include a few weaving communities in your itinerary – in between visits to the churches, museums, restaurants and, if you like history sites. These are the treasures of Iloilo and our weavers who remain to be one example of a talented craftsperson who keeps it alive with passion and dedication and take home a piece of Iloilo to remember your travel by.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Balasan’s Home-Grown Favorite Turns 10

Balasan, Iloilo will celebrate Lechon Festival in a very festive affair on a quiet street fronting the town hall on June 20-26, 2018. Activities include Cara-Gwapa Festival, Balasan Got Talent and Lin-Ay sang Balasan and with nightly live band performances.

Highlighting the festivity on July 20 at lunchtime is the Boodle Fight---a military style of eating where long tables are prepared and food are on top of the banana leaves and viands and rice are ready to eat using your bare hands.

Many visitors make the pilgrimage to Balasan every July, where they are always joined by happy throngs of locals enjoying some true Balasanon flavor. Balasan may not be as popular as its neighboring towns in terms of attractions, but it honestly has the best-tasting suckling roast pork in the entire province.

Many will argue that their version of this dish is just as good as any out there. But the people of Balasan display a fierce territorial pride when it comes to their favorite pork recipe, and it is probably well deserved. The skin perfect crispy and herbed accompaniment to the moist and garlic-infused flesh within, certainly comparable to the roasted pig of Cebu or in the city if not better.

Organizers of the annual Lechon Festival started it 10 years ago as a theme-based offering of no-holds-barred Balasan cooking, a public, free-for-all roast and mixing this great local cuisine with good times and good music.

The main street is jam-packed and eventually becomes a standing room only. Almost everyone is there and are excited to be eating an authentically prepared and rare taste of the town: that crispy and polished skin, that juicy taste of its appetizing aft and meat, and the heavenly combination of crispy soft, and its smooth texture.

Lechon is a local delicacy well-loved by almost every Filipino. The lechon or the whole pig roasted dish blended with herbs and spices is always present in the best occasions of every Filipino homes like fiestas, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries.

Most people will recommend that you try Balasan lechón while you are here in Iloilo. There is a good reason it is among the favorite foods in Iloilo. Come and join the people of Balasan in celebrating this wonderful testament to the home-grown favorite.

Balasan is a 4th Class municipality situated 128 kilometers away or almost a 3-hour drive north from the city. Made up of 23 barangays, it is bordered in the north by Carles; in the south by the town of Batad; in the east by Estancia; and in the west by the town of Pilar in the province of Capiz.

To get to Balasan, one can take the bus at the New Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig in Haro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mr. Cecil Crisme – Municipal Tourism Officer at (033) 3970296 or email at

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kalamay Festival and the Sweet Town of San Enrique

San Enrique, Iloilo will celebrate its Kalamay Festival starting July 8-14, 2018. Celebrating the town’s sugar cane farming and the production of raw sugar as well as the impact of the sugar industry to the town for almost 40 years, series of special events daily were prepared to attract people of all ages to the town’s fairgrounds. Moreover, appealing to tourists as well as local residents, the festival will generate significant tourism-related income.

With this year’s theme, “One Beat…One Dance…One Festival,” special events are highlighted daily starting on July 8, 2018       (Sunday) at 8:00 am with Lin-ay Sang Kalamay Community Immersion with the Indigenous people of Barangay Lip-Ac and Dacal; July 10, 2018 (Tuesday) at 4:00 pm is the Lin- ay Sang Kalamay Talent and Rural Attire Competition at the City Mall in Passi City;  July 11, 2018 (Wednesday) at 6:30 pm will have PASIDUNGOG (A Tribute to Former Elective and Appointive Municipal Officials)

July 12, 2017 (Thursday) at 6:30 am is the PASALAMAT (Thanksgiving Mass), 7:30 am with PAGHILIUSA  (Civic Parade), 9:00 am     for HANDUMANAN (A Commemorative Program) and PANGUMA (An Agro-Trade Fair); 10:30 am    with PAG- ULIKID (Quiz Bee on Local History) and at 1:00 pm for the PAINDIS- INDIS SANG KINAADMAN (Literary-Musical Contest) of Binalaybay, Pamulong- pulong, Vocal Solo (Ilonggo Folk Song) and Composo, at 8:00 pm is the SEARCH FOR LIN-AY SANG KALAMAY

July 13, 2017   (Friday) at 7:00 am is a PROCESSION, 8:00 am with a THANKSGIVING MASS (Fiesta de San Enrique), 9:00 am for KULINARYA (Cooking Contest Using Sugar as Primary Ingredient) with Category A: Main Dish and Category B:     Fruit Jam, 7:00 pm is the BAND FOR A CAUSE Sponsored by the Mary, Help of Christians Parish, and the 1st KALAMAY FESTIVAL MOTORSHOW Sponsored by the Responsible Motor Riders Club at the Town Plaza; and to cap the festival week is the PADAYAW (Dance-Drama Competition) on July 14, 2017 (Saturday), 7:00 pm for KINALIPAY (Awarding Ceremony), and 8:00 pm with a DISCO.

The mingling elements of local religious, economic, and social elements in San Enrique through the Kalamay Festival presents a microcosmic view of the community-based values. The importance of cane farming and sugar production is the underlying focus of the festival for this agricultural town with a population of 33, 911 (2015 Census on Population) San Enriquenhons.

The agricultural town has a land area of 8,772 hectares; 7,572 hectares of which is devoted to Agriculture. Sugarcane is mainly its agricultural produce. It is an industrial crop of many towns especially found abundant in the Fourth Congressional District of the province. The canes are supplied to sugar industries, specifically those found in Passi City, Barotac Nuevo and in San Enrique.

The Passi Sugar Central Incorporated in San Enrique is one of the very few remaining in Panay with sugarcane being the town’s largest agricultural crop. The establishment of Passi Sugar Central Incorporated by a group of well-known Ilonggo sugar cane planters in San Enrique in April 1967 has enhanced the financial status of the town. The year after, a mill site covering 28 hectares in Barangay Ulang Juan was constructed and was later finished in 1970. It employed around 450 workers. It was said that in 1983-84, the Sugar Central has registered the highest volume of production among the six sugar centrals located in Panay area. The cost of the mill was $ 9.37 million.

San Enrique, a town in the 4th Congressional District of the province became independent from Passi City on July 12, 1957 via Executive Order No. 259 signed by Excellency Carlos P. Garcia, President of the Philippines.

The town's scenic beauty is land-locked by the presence of Mounts Cañapasan, Bayoso, Gepiz, Cararapan, Cabas-an and Puti-an --- a potential ecotourism site known with caves  located at Barangay Rumagayray and runs contiguously to Bulabog-Putian National Park at the boundary of Dingle and San Enrique.

San Enrique is 54 kilometers or an hour and thirty-minute drive north central from Iloilo City via the Passi City route. Comprised of 28 barangays, it is bounded in the north by Passi City; in the south by Dingle; the east by Banate and Barotac Viejo and; west by Duenas. For more information, please contact Dr. Jose Patubo, PhD. – Head, Municipal Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office T (033) 3232300 or email at

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