MAK 2007 Fashion Show revives an old weaving heritage

The OFW-Shien Cooperative, brain child of the late Antonina “Tonette” Binsol is proud to present Ang Moda at Kultura Fashion Show on Sept. 23 (Sunday) at Tokyo Women’s Plaza. Proceeds of the fashion show will go to the Filipino International Weekend School, and Meguro Church Renovation. But the main beneficiaries of this show are the folks of the Miagao Hablon Weavers Association.

The weaving industry in Miagao boasts of a long history that date back to the later part of the Spanish era, and was formerly known as “habol” or “hinabol” made only of fibrous natural materials jusi (banana fiber), piña (pineapple fiber), locally grown silk threads, cotton and rayon. The weavers made innovations by combining them with man-made fibers introduced in the early 1920’s. They started to produce colorful textiles of emerald, lavender, pink, tangerine, and crimson colors. This became known as, “Hablon”. Hablon has evolved to become a major player in the Philippine textile industry, with its heyday in the 1950’s up to the 1970’s. It suffered a decline in 1980’s due to the predominance in the world market of less-labor intensive, machine-woven textiles. This also brought about a dramatic decline in the number of weavers, who started to look for better livelihood opportunities, and lack of interest among the younger generation to take up the weaving trade.

Although efforts were made by the Department of Tourism to revive this Iloilo heritage in the early 1990’s, it was in 2001 that brought Hablon back to the limelight, when Atty. Gerardo Flores, Mayor of Miagao, enlisted Mr. Nono Palmos, a Miagaowanon international fashion designer to stage a very successful Hablon fashion show at the Miagao Public Plaza the town’s foundation anniversary last Feb. 8, 2003. This was followed by an exhibition of Mr. Palmos’ Hablon creations in WOW Philippines’, “Pasundayag san Western Visayas” held in Intramuros in October 2003.

The revival of Hablon caught the attention of local fashion designers, who have developed a distinct couture out of Hablon, that has made its way into several fashion houses in the United States, Singapore, Hongkong, and the United Kingdom. Later in 2003, a financial grant from the British Embassy was approved for the Hablon weaving development project, thru the endorsement by Senator Loren Legarda, an avid Hablon patroness.

These events reawakened the Miagaowanons’ interest on their nearly- abandoned local heritage and once again, the sales of Hablon products have increased impressively, benefiting more families who started to depend on weaving for their basic needs.

The Hablon will make its first appearance in Japan this year in the most upscale and trendy Omote-sando of Tokyo. This fabric will be shown to an international audience transformed to Filipiniana dresses in different periods of the Philippine History. The Moda and Kultura Fashion show will feature Hablon Filipinianas during the Spanish period (1521–1898), the American Period (1898–1946) and modern times. The humble Hablon like its country of origin indeed has come a long way.

MAK 2007 Fashion Show is sponsored by: WINS, Philippine Airlines, Mr. Muraki, Brastel, Philippine Journal, Metro Bank, Paolo Graca, Annie’s Company, Chez Vous Domestic Services, Philippine Digest, Ayurveda Beauty Clinic and Nakamatsu Dental Clinic.

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