January 31, 2019

VIGAN TRAVEL: Rowilda’s Factory Continues the Century-Old Practice of Loom Weaving

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  • VIGAN TRAVEL: Rowilda’s Factory Continues the Century-Old Practice of Loom Weaving
  • You might have seen these gorgeous, colorful woven products along Calle Crisologo in Vigan, but have you ever wondered how they were made?

    The inabel or handwoven products are available at Rowilda’s showroom along Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

    These inabel products are handwoven by the artistic weavers of Rowilda’s Loom Weaving factory through traditional, manual weaving in Brgy. Camangaan, just a 10-minute tricycle ride away from Calle Crisologo in Vigan!

    Inabel is a traditional woven product made of cotton yarn, sewing threads, among other materials. It is known for its strong and colorful material that produces a beautiful ensemble of fabrics exported to Manila.

    One of their partners is Kultura, known for its patronage of local products, often seen at SM Department Stores nationwide.

    Cotton yarns or “sagut” is widely used for inabel-making. It comes in different colors but for this project, Rowilda’s is sticking to neutral.

    Sewing threads are also a key element of inabel-making, proven by the many spools of thread usually lined up at Rowilda’s.

    Rowilda’s Loom Weaving, which started their operations back in 1989, can be considered the most popular looming factory in Vigan.

    This abel or weaving factory is currently composed of 25 weavers who either use the loom inside their private homes or inside the factory, making abel a huge part of their livelihood.

    One of Rowilda’s weavers working professionally on the traditional handloom gave us her seat to try the handloom.

    Inside Rowilda’s, you can watch several people do the manual-weaving for free. You can also try it yourself as the weavers are kind enough to let tourists experience how to make their famous products.

    Our team tried the abel for the first time with the supervision of one of the weavers at Rowilda’s.

    Rowilda’s uses a wooden handloom that they inherited from their ancestors some 100 years back. This handloom creates the fabric through the synchronized movement of hands and feet via wooden pedal. It may be a bit confusing at first but you will get used to its pattern once you learn it.

    The result is rewarding in and of itself with the fabrics’ durability and beautifully-crafted patterns, incomparable with machine-made cloths.

    Different patterns can be made out of the wooden handloom using a combination of cotton yarn and sewing thread.

    Products that they produce include table runners (Php 140 per meter), placemats (Php 350/6 pcs., blankets (Php 380 to Php 680), pillowcases (Php 280/pair), and bath towels (Php 250 to Php 280), among many others.

    They also make fashion attires and accessories out of abel, making it one of the most sought-after souvenirs when it comes to traditional products in Ilocos.

    Moreover, their original designs are also available in their showroom along Calle Crisologo.

    Rowilda’s Handloom Weaving (showroom) can be found along Calle Crisologo in Vigan City. You may ride the calesa going there if you so wish!

    Rowilda’s is named after the owner’s only daughter, who learned how to weave when she was just 10 years old.

    Interestingly, Rowilda has passed the craft to her daughters who learned to weave as young as 6—that is, without anyone teaching them.

    This living tradition is definitely not just a souvenir to bring home, but also a livelihood and a culture to be proud of.

    How to get here:

    • By car: From Calle Crisologo, take the Rivero road passing through the Beddeng Bridge going left to Flores Street. You may reach Rowilda’s Loom Weaving at Brgy. Camanggan, just 10 minutes away from Calle Crisologo.
    • By Public Transport: Ride a tricycle passing along Calle Crisologo for just Php 30.

    Details:

    Address: Brgy. Camanggaan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
    Contact Information: 077-722-6734 / 0917-367-3911
    Business Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Factory: Weaving activity starts at 8 a.m.) / 7:30 a.m. to evening (Showroom: closing time varies)
    Website: www.rowildasloomweaving.com
    E-mail Address: rowildas@yahoo.com


    A version of this appeared in Philippine Primer’s Japanese (Vol. 104) and English (Vol. 11) magazines

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