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Beyond the loom and thread: How DOST-PTRI helps Ilocos Norte town make a mark in the weaving industry

Ilocos Norte is known for its stories of bravery, legacy in leadership, and a plethora of scenic destinations.

Aside from these, this humble province carries a rich heritage of textiles, as it continues to preserve its centuries-worth of weaving tradition to this day.

In the hands of Nana Magdalena Gamayo, a nonagenarian weaver from Pinili town, the panag-abel or loom weaving has put Ilocos Norte in the limelight, as she was awarded the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) in 2012.

Since then, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte and other stakeholders have laid out their plans and efforts for the preservation of this exquisite heritage of weaving through training among the youth, assistance for local weavers, and recently, the construction of an inabel weaving center in honor of Gamayo.

Unbeknownst to many, the municipality of Banna is also home to a group of handloom weavers who create unique patterns that are transformed into modern fashion apparel and accessories.

In its pursuit of making a mark in the industry of panag-abel, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the development of a truly unique identity of the Banna Weaving community on October 16.

The DOST-PTRI is the premier textile research and development institution in the country. They are responsible for the development of the textile industry. It pioneers innovative and inclusive solutions for transforming local textiles into clothing and accessories.

DOST-PTRI will be providing 4-harness handlooms in the hopes of improving the weaving capacity and competencies of the local weavers in Banna town.

To date, there are only eight weavers in the town.

Apart from the weaving machines, the agency will also aid in the registration and digital design documentation, in accordance with their objective for digitalization in the handloom weaving industry.

DOST-PTRI will also train weavers to further explore the potential of the new handloom in terms of weave pattern development.

On the other hand, this is also aligned with the town’s vision to enhance the homegrown talents and skills in creating a Banna-distinct weaving and textile industry.

In the ceremonial signing of the MOA during the KatHABI Fashion Show of DOST for the Regional Science and Technology Week 2023, Banna Mayor Chrislyn Abadilla expressed gratitude for this assistance from the agency.

She said that Banna had never been known as a tourist destination in their town, but with the help of DOST, Banna will soon become a weaving destination on the national map.

“We don’t have any tourism destination. However, with the efforts that has been done by DOST-PTRI, matutupad na yung pangarap namin na ilagay kami sa mapa ng turismo ng Ilocos Norte because of your efforts. And that we can actually prove that we have a tourist destination which is actually our ipinagmamalaking weaving industry of our humble town,” said Abadilla.

Indeed, tourism is not just about its destination or its people; it is its tradition that continues to weave the greatness of its heritage and cultural landscape beyond the loom and the thread. (JCR/MJTAB PIA Ilocos Norte)

About the Author

Ma. Joreina Therese Blanco


Region 1

Ma. Joreina Therese A. Blanco is an Information Officer II of the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos Norte Information Center based in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. She is currently the Information Center Manager of PIA Ilocos Norte.

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