‘INABEL’. The graduates wear their ‘abel sablay’ with a National Living Treasure Magdalena Gamayo and program director Dr. Edwin Antonio. A short-term course on abel (cloth) weaving is being offered in Pinili town to keep the local weaving industry alive. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Antonio)


PINILI, Ilocos Norte -- Proud of their rich culture and tradition, some residents in Pinili town are attending a weaving class here to keep the Ilocano cloth ‘inabel’ alive.

Open to all interested individuals in the province, a two-week basic weaving course or equivalent to 80 hours, is being offered in Lumbaan-Bicbica village where Magdalena Gamayo, a National Living Treasure for her mastery in weaving “abel” (Ilokano term for weaving local cloth), teaches them.

A total of 40 graduates wore their self-produced ‘sablay’ made of abel in a simple graduation rites attended by some local officials and Gamayo herself.

“Maragsakanak unay ta agtultuloy daytoy a programa a pannakaisuro no kasano iti panagabel (I am very happy that this program continues to preserve the skills of ‘Inabel’ weaving),” Gamayo said.

Since 2018, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with the Katutubo Exchange Philippines (KXPH) and local government unit of Pinili, introduced a weaving class here where Gamayo holds lessons for weavers who would take up the trade of producing inabel, which is known for its intricate designs and durability.

The NCCA in 2012 awarded Gamayo the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan, the highest honor given to artisans, craftsmen, or folk artists. It is a title in the same order with National Artist or National Scientist.

Dr. Edwin Antonio, program director and founder of KXPH, said the program started under the instruction of Gamayo, as she welcomes the younger generation to learn the tradition for its preservation.

“We started this program in 2018 with only 10 graduates then. After that, the Pinili government expressed their willingness to create another batch of learners. Now we have 40 from the different parts of Ilocos Norte and one from the Visayas region,” he said.

Antonio added the students underwent series of lectures on weaving and a tour orientation in Lumbaan-Bicbica in Pinili town as part the course program.

They were taught to weave using ‘Pagablan’, a local instrument used in ‘inabel’ weaving from Gamayo, and the rest of her family who share the same passion for weaving.

After completing the course, Antonio said the graduates were able to produce 64 yards of abel cloth.

“They are already good and they have perfected the designs. I already shared everything that I know and it is now up to them to nurture it,” Gamayo shared in an interview, as she looked frail at the age of 94. (PNA)