Lubfid Allatog - Samoki, Bontoc

Virginia Cabigat - Hingyon, Ifugao

Indodon Dulnuan - Hingyon, Ifugao

Kittayan Niploy - Hingyon, Ifugao

Heyasmin Aida Fernandez - Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Spindle whorls made of stone and baked clay, found in Cagayan Valley archaeological sites, suggest cotton yarn manufacturing and textile weaving practice in the Philippines dating back to the metal/iron age. Early trading practice with the Philippines’ Asian and Southeast Asian neighbors saw the flourishing of commercial activity in the harbors of Northwestern Luzon, Mindoro, Panay, Palawan, Sulu, and Butuan, where cotton, cotton textiles, and plant fiber yarn figured as trade products. With the exception of Palawan and Butuan, these regions have remained textile producing centers to this day.

Implements used for traditional Philippine textile production are the back strap and pedal loom. The back strap loom is more popularly known as insibet/impaod among northern Luzon groups, and gab’lan/abellan among Mindanao and Jolo groups. This type of loom is portable and can be rolled and unrolled with ease, allowing the weaver to set it up anywhere convenient. Its setting up is done simultaneously as the warp yarns are arranged. The warp yarns are rolled over a piece of bamboo and held together on one end by a pair of flat wood clamps. While the bamboo is tied to a level higher than the clamps, the latter is secured to a strap positioned at the back of the seated weaver’s waist. The weaver’s body, as it leans forward and pulls back, controls the tension of the warp to allow the entry of the weft. The other type of loom in current use is the pedal loom. Although its specific introduction to Philippine textile practice is unrecorded, it is known to have come as a later development to the back strap loom. Known to have been promoted by the Philippine Royal Company during the Spanish colonial period, its introduction was an effort to increase textile production for the export market.

Raw materials for weaving vary throughout the archipelago. In Luzon cotton has been commonly used as yarn material. In South Luzon and Visayas, bast fibers from the stem of banana/abaca, jute from ramie, and pineapple leaf fiber or piña are used. In eastern and central Mindanao, the banana/abaca fiber has been widely used, while western Mindanao and the Sulo islands favor cotton and silk acquired through trade. Dye-stuffs may either be produced naturally or purchased commercially. Sources of natural dyes are plants, barks, and roots. For instance, indigo or the blackish blue hue comes from the indigo plant known as tayum. Black is produced from the leaves of the kinalom tree and from mineral rich soil, as has been the practice by the Ifugao and the Mandaya. Red comes from the bark of sapang, adang, and narra trees in Luzon, and from the sikalig tree roots in eastern and central Mindanao. Yellow is produced from crushed wild ginger, known as kunig/kunil, mixed with lime.