Archive for abel

in good hands

Posted in artifacts, culture, history, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by mijodo

man toiling at burnay factory

It has been said, time and time again, that probably among all Filipinos, the Ilocanos could be the most hardworking people. Pretty much, the environment and the climate, may have pushed the folks from Ilocos region to work harder and toil longer.  The soaring heat during summers makes cultivation and farming more arduous. Searing photos have been taken of cracking soil, as water resource gets depleted and becomes more precious.

Since production delivery becomes scant,  Ilocanos have learned to stretch whatever stock and possessions they have until the next crop yield. In due time, Ilocanos earned the monicker of being the “most frugal Filipinos.”  Apparently, they somehow have been proud of such description as it captures their resilience and the know-how in handling their finances.

As Ilocanos try to come up with greater agricultural production efficiency through the centuries despite the conditions, they have also gone to other homebased entrepreneurial activities, which have been esteemed and marvelled for several centuries as well.  Such traditional crafts have also made use of the great handskills of the people from the north. Ladies have gone to abel-weaving while the men have gone to burnay-pottery.

Abel weaving is a centuries old craft that produces abel- iloco or inabel, using wooden loom equipment. The cotton threads, used in abel weaving, during the old times were usually dyed before the weaving which should produce interesting folkloric color combinations that only the Ilocanos could produce.  It is said that abel weaving started out in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, but there has been production coming from parts of Ilocos Norte as well.  As the weaves are thick and coarse, the cloth is usually utilized as rags, blankets and other home products. However somehow today, designers have treated the same inabel material for high fashion.

Introduced by Chinesed merchants, burnay is an earthenware produced in different sections of Ilocos region, but is said to be popularly made in Ilocos Sur. Burnay has been used as a vessel to store grains and rice, and to ferment kitchen needs such as bagoong, wine or vinegar. Burnay-makers would use special clay such that water would not seep out from the jars, and maintain cool temperature. Such vats are sturdy enough because of the way they have been baked. Consequently, jars, done centuries back, are much sought after by antique collectors.

It is a testament to the Ilocanos that such old traditional backyard activities have survived until now. They have honed these specific handskills through history, just like any other Ilocano way of life activities – with effort, adept, and passion.