Photo essay: A look at abel loom weaving in Abra

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A woman busily weaving abel in Abra
A woman busily weaving abel in Abra

The Ilocos region, especially Sur and Norte is known popularly as where abel iloko, a traditional form of weaving with its own interesting designs come from. But not many know that this traditional cloth is also woven in Abra. I had the opportunity to visit one such weaving community in Bulbulala, La Paz.

Leila’s Loomweaving is perhaps one of the biggest suppliers of woven abel, with their biggest buyer from a handicrafts shop in Cebu focusing on Philippine traditional textiles. They not only have given work to the community, with majority of the weavers local women, they are also part of keeping the tradition intact.

The room has several looms but many more are in the houses within the barangay. The weaving itself is a manual process, with each textile taking several weeks to finish.

Detail of an abel weave being woven
Detail of an abel weave being woven
A woman fixes the threading for a weave
A woman fixes the threading for a weave
During a break in the weaving, this spool is run across the loom to make the horizontal patterns
During a break in the weaving, this spindle is run across the loom to make the horizontal patterns
Loom weaving in Bulbulala, La Paz, Abra
Loom weaving in Bulbulala, La Paz, Abra
Rolls of material for weaving
Rolls of material for weaving
Colorful cloth being woven
Colorful cloth being woven
Another detail of an abel cloth on the loom
Another detail of an abel cloth on the loom
Colorful threads for loom use
Colorful threads for loom use

Thanx to Vice Governor Chari Bersamin for making this trip possible.

Leila’s Loomweaving
Bulbulala, La Paz, Abra
+63 928 3210379

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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