The “Tabungaw,” “Upo” or Gourd Hat!

“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.

(Horizontally I mean…! Oh well, just to show you :) )


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! :)


Gallery | This entry was posted in A. ILOCOS, Gameng (Crafts), Ladawan (Photos) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The “Tabungaw,” “Upo” or Gourd Hat!

  1. Josh says:

    i rarely reply in blogs, but there is a few that i follow a lot.
    thank you for your postings, love them. קידום אתרים

  2. Dobbin Buck says:

    Can anyone please tell me how I can order one of these to my size! I would greatly appreciate any help in this matter!

  3. cyrus says:

    Believe it or not I got to use one of this when I was in Ilocos (nu aggatud tabako wenno agraep uray napigsa nga tudo di mabasa ta ulom). not ideal to use during the hot summer though.

  4. sistah says:

    Very well done!
    When we went to the Dominican Republic,people there have other uses for mature gourd;in the Philipppines,we make it into hats while in the Dominica,I’ve seen people use the shell as containers for anything and everything-coffee beans,vegetables,anything.

    Our tour guide said-which I thougt it is amusing but true- some use it as I qoute ” for pipi and for popo” which actually means….oh well! LOL! But make sure you’re using half of the gourd for that purpose and the other half for somthin’ else!

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