“Tabungaw,” in Ilocano, “Upo” in Filipino, (White) Gourd in English, is a vegestable-crop that can be made into a hat which Ilocano’s are famous for. It is unfortunate, however, that the art of making the “gourd hat” is now a dying industry.
You may want to know how this veggie becomes a durable hat that farmers in Ilocos use, but have now become a (mere) novelty or souvenir for some.
The “tabungaw” plant is a vine that bears fruit. When still young, it can be harvested and cooked in various ways such as “ginisa,” or “inabraw/dinengdeng.” Its tops can also be a good source of fiber when boiled and seasoned with “bagoong,” tomatoes, onions and ginger.
When it reaches its maturity (after about six months) and the shell is at its hardest, it is cut horizontally, the meat it taken out and sun-dried to extract moisture.
After drying, it’s made into a hat by weaving inner cushion made of fine bamboo strips to fit the head to look like this:
In the province, they use it for the purpose that it is made but for some, especially in the Metro, it can be a good accent and conversation piece in their interiors.
I came across this link at Texas Gourd Society in the U.S. where they parade their “gourd hats” in different forms, sizes and motifs, giving the Ilocos Tabungaw a run for its money!🙂