Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dear Friends,

I am still finishing up on a project.  Will be blogging again soon.

All the best,


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Abstract 26/NF Abstract

"...the late afternoon sunlight, warm as oil, sweet as childhood..." 
~ Stephen King, Carrie

Linking to NF Abstract

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hablon Weaving

A closer look at "hablon" weaving in Iloilo. 
"Hablon" is a hand-loomed fabric woven by women of Panay Island in the Visayas region for more than a century.

I have always associated the tapping sounds of hablon weaving to that of  Tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance.  The rhythm and grace of a hablon weaver are comparable to that of a Tinikling dancer, but hablon weaving is definitely more challenging.  I've watched the weavers at Arevalo Weaving Center in Iloilo and I came to appreciate the intricacy of this craft.

When the Spanish arrived in Panay in the 1560s, hablon weaving in the island was well-established.  Colorful hand-woven fabrics were sold in festive market fairs, local traders bartered with the Chinese, and by 1870s, hand-woven textile was the main export of the province. 

The weavers were using natural fibers such as cotton, jusi (banana fiber), pina (pineapple fiber) and maguey fiber.  By the 1920s, weavers made innovations by combining man-made fibers and hablon went on to become a major player in the Philippine textile industry in the 1950s up to 1970s.  The demand declined in the 1980s when the market was dominated by less labor-intensive, machine-woven textiles.  The number of weavers also dwindled as they started to look for better job opportunities.  The lack of interest to learn the craft among the younger generation also contributed to hablon's decline. I don't blame them---hablon weaving is not easy.

Hablon weavers are getting old.  Lola Mayang, a hablon weaver in her 80's, started weaving at 15 and was able to send her children to college.  I watched as her arthritic fingers skillfully handled the spools, both legs pedal the bamboo poles.  But her fading eyesight will eventually force her to retire soon.

Patadyong is a multi-colored fabric, also a hablon product, worn by Filipino women in pre-colonial Philippines.  It is still worn today by older women in the provinces, especially in the Visayas region.  It is worn like a loose skirt, knotted on the waist.  It is also worn as a sling and used to carry a baby so the mother's hands are free to do other chores.
Hablon are made into shawls, barong (a formal Filipino garment), dresses and gowns, home textile and scarves.

At Arevalo Weaving Center, I was pleasantly surprised to see 3 young weavers---they're young men in their early 20's.  Hablon weaving is still a woman's craft but I wouldn't be surprised if more men would get into this livelihood.  The 3 young weavers were field workers in a sugarcane plantation in my home province of Negros Occidental.  A nun brought them to Iloilo to help them find jobs that would eventually support their schooling.  They expressed interest in learning hablon weaving and the owners of the weaving center took them in.  

It was particularly fascinating to watch this young man with tattoos unwinding threads, making spools dance across strands of fibers.  I asked if he'd go back to his old job---he said no, hablon weaving is easier than cutting grass in the fields under the hot sun.  He smiled and added that his skin became lighter since he started weaving.  

To sustain this industry, hablon weaving definitely needs young blood and new market.

Panay is a historic island in the western Visayas region.  It is composed of 4 provinces--Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz and Antique.  Iloilo is the biggest city and the center of trade.  There are numerous sea ports and 4 airports in Panay, 3 of which are for domestic flights, the airport in Iloilo now caters to international flights. It's 55 minutes from Manila by plane.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Orange-colored bugs infested an okra plant.

"Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.  It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.  Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper." 
           ~ Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gone Fishing

I'll be gone for a week for a much needed break and may not have access to the internet.  I'll see you again next week.

Never do anything that you wouldn't want to explain to the paramedics.:p