Abel Ilokana: Celebrating Women Weavers from Ilocos Sur, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Abra

March 7, 2014


Abel Ilokana: Celebrating Women Weavers from Ilocos Sur, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Abra

Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Gallery

07 March 2014


Allow me first to congratulate the National Museum. They have aptly placed the spotlight on our women weavers from the North in time for the National Women’s Month.


Today, we celebrate the strength of women and the enduring weaving culture in our country. We also appreciate the men who have acquired the skill, though weaving is an art dominated by women.


Among the tropical fabrics in the Philippines, the Abel of the Ilokanos is one of the famous pieces. Tradition has made it part of an Ilokano’s life—at childbirth, in marriage, and even in death. It is also as mundane as a blanket or a tablecloth or a purse. But behind every Abel is a great synergy of a weaver’s mind, heart and soul unleashed through the loom. This rhythm of energies gives life to the strands of thread lifelessly laying on the loom. Behind every cloth spun from threads of various origin and colors is a story of a weaver’s relationship with her loom. It is her craft, her passion, her life.


We have a vast array of vibrant traditional textiles, aside from the Abel. I have visited numerous weaving communities all over the country, and beyond the intricate weaving technique and fine embellishments we find in these garments, we discover cultural expressions and visions of our history that have endured the test of time.


We are fortunate that at least over a hundred weaving centers and communities are still in existence, keeping weaving traditions alive. But against a backdrop of a fast-changing globalized world, how do we promote, preserve, and sustain the many weaving methods deeply rooted in the Filipino culture? How do we support talented weavers, our culture-bearers, encourage them to continue weaving and pass on their expertise to the next generation?


The task before us is to help our people value and continue our heritage. We must open doors of opportunities for weaving communities. We must promote greater support for cultural enterprises and creative industries of our indigenous peoples. As we do this, we also empower our weavers, many of whom are indigenous women.


This display of tropical fabrics that we will launch today is not only an effort to celebrate indigenous artistry through textiles and provide more Filipinos the opportunity to discover priceless information about our heritage, but an attempt to bring the challenge of nurturing our weaving traditions into the national stage, to a wider audience.


It is about time that we put premium on Filipino artisanship, uphold the traditions that give meaning to our history and identity, and ensure that our future generations would still be able to witness these cultural treasures unfold before their very eyes.


The mission of protecting our cultural heritage is a long walk. But it is a road we must take.


Thank you.