Textures: Vigan’s Abel Iloko

After touring Villa Angela and Arce Mansion, we took a tricycle to the city’s loom weaving zone. Sadly, most members of Generation Z do not appreciate the beauty of weaving an abel fabric,  to say the least, but through the sustainable efforts of the private sector, the Ilocos Sur and Vigan governments and heritage conservation groups, we hope the dying tradition will be around much longer, if not forever.

An 86-year old loom weaver who started weaving 76 years ago.

In the olden days, the process of making cotton yarn for inabel was done by the agagabel (abel-maker) herself. Today, due to time and cost constraints, the abel-makers prefer cheaper commercial threads, but are not thick enough so that the agagabel has to bind 24 strands of the commercial thread, and then coil it into a ball in preparation for the actual weaving process.

Weaving on a loom.

Besides blankets, table runners, bathrobes, etc., Cristy’s Loom Weaving crafts colorful bags in different styles. Alexa fancied a sling bag and also got a tote for her nanny and a make-up bag our cook.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved

Inabel, Heart and Soul of an Ilocana Weaver

Handed down from generation to generation, the art of inabel weaving is a golden thread entwined in the Ilocano culture. Manually woven through a wooden loom, an abel fabric is made up of pure creativity, imagination, positivity, respect, discipline and keenness.

The Ilocanas of the olden times were taught this textile craft which once bolstered the economy of the Ilocos region during the colonial times, when abel products were largely exported to foreign lands. Spanish galleons sailed the seas with pieces of inabel sailcloth. The abel is certainly a representation of the elegant past of Ilocos.

The various abel weave designs are inspired by natural elements. It maybe land formation patterns, the colors of flowers and vegetation, the ripples of a calm blue ocean, or the sky on a bright night.

There is always an untold story behind each and every piece of inabel, but clearly, the very essence of inabel is the beautiful qualities of an Ilocana.

(I dedicate this post to Manang Cion, the one person who gifted me with all the love while taking care of me since birth up to the time I had my own family. It was she who let me appreciate the joys of simple living. On her days off, she brought me along to Suba, her hometown, to experience bamboo rafting by the Paoay Lake, “sarguelas” and “lomboy” picking around the Nagbacalan forests, native jewelry making with “bugbugayong” and “bitbittaog”, and “karison” rides from Suba to Currimao. Two days from now, I’ll be turning a year older, and I will miss her predictable present, inabel specially customized by the weavers of Nagbacalan, Paoay.)


Location: Aleli Joy’s Inabel/ Masintoc Sand Dunes, Paoay/Laoag Central School

Aleli Joy’s Inabel Barangay Nagbacalan, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines 639176086478

Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED