Paoay in not only known for its ever charming St. Agustine Church but also for its “inabel” (popularly known as “abel iloko”), a textile made of cotton and other natural fibers woven in pedal frame looms. It’s not only in Paoay though that inabel is being made. The industry have become widespread in the region, thus, its name.
The wooden pedal frame where the fabric is manually weaved:
When I was in Paoay, I had the chance to visit a store that weaves and sells inabel just beside the Paoay Church where I took the images here.
The inabel have evolved from a blanket to pillow cases, bed covers, and place mats; to fabric of choice for designers; to bags, and to everything that the Ilocano creative mind can imagine:
The design and use of the fabric have become so unlimited which makes it very versatile and durable. In fact, the inabel blankets I used as a small child in the province are still kept in my mother’s closet in the province, ready to use, anytime. By the way, my mother used to starch my inabel blanket and I didn’t like it because I don’t want my blanket standing on its own! To add, historical reports reveal that the fabric was even used as sails for large trading ships during the colonial period.
Postscript: The weaver in the shop I have visited informed me that they have not been producing a lot lately because of the scarcity of raw materials. The weavers would appreciate it a lot though if you can have your piece of abel iloko when you visit Ilocos.