Inquirer Libre - Davao - - PANGUNAHING PAHINA - By Edwin O. Fernandez

Normina Collie was only 12years old when she started weaving Inaul. That was 40 years ago and now at 52, she still weaves the traditional cloth that was touted to be the perfect example of Maguindanao’s “artistic expression”, but were only meant to be worn by the royals of old days.

“There is passion in doing it, every day I weave, it’s in my system,” Collie, Maguindanao’s lone master weaver, told the Inquirer (sister publication of Libre) in the vernacular.

At a building inside the Maguindanao provincial capitol complex here, “Babo Normina” as she is fondly called, led a dozen other weavers as they rush to meet the demand for more than 300 “Inaul” cloth for this year’s 2nd Inaul Festival in Maguindanao. The festival starts today (February 8) until Feb. 14. Skill from grandma Babo Normina said she learned the skill from her grandmother, who also acquired the skill from other Maguindanaon elders during her day.

“My grandmother was a wellknown weaver then when I was 12,” she recounted. “I learned weaving by stealing her works while my she was asleep or out somewhere,” she said.

She said, she would meticulously watch her grandma turned strands of thread into Inaul.

“Whenever my grandmother went out, I would take her seat and started weaving then keeping my produce out of her sight,” she recounted with a chuckle.

Until her grandma discovered her passion, and later taught her the proper way of weaving the fabric. “She transferred all her knowledge to me, that was how I learned the job,” she said. The process An Inaul takes about three days to complete, according to Bai Srika Pendatun, the president of Maguindanao's rural improvement club.

Pendatun said an inaul sells between P2,500-P5,000, depending on the design and the kind of thread used.

As in the old days, the thread comes from local sources and imported ones, such as silk.

Pendatun said there was a time when the inaul industry had nearly disappeared as younger generation of Maguindanaon women got caught by modernization.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said most of the younger generation are no longer wearing inaul malong. Revival It was in 2017 when Mangudadatu revived the interest in the inaul. “If not for the governor, the Maguindanao weaving tradition would have died and replaced by ordinary cloth commercially displayed in malls and made by unrecognized weavers,” Pendatun said.

She said on Mangudadatu’s instance, Maguindanao weavers banded and established a “technology know-how” project to teach young Maguindanao women the skills.

The funding for the revival of the Inaul weaving industry had been incorporated in the P15million budget for the Gender and Development (GAD) office. Under the training, each potential weaver was taught for one month.

Engineer Nulfarid Ampatuan, the 2nd Inaul Festival director, said since last year, Babo Normina and the other weavers had already trained 300 inaul weavers.

Normina Collie, Maguindanao’s only master weaver, painstakingly interweave threads, using cotton or silk-rayon fabrics, to come up with a attractive Inaul cloth. EOF

Bags made of dried water hyacinth and Inaul cloth ar eon display at the 2nd Inaul Festival in Buluan, Maguindnanao.

Engr. Nulfarid Ampatuan, 2nd Inaul Festival director, shows Inaul cloth weaved in 1920.

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