Bangar, La Union: Our Story with Inabel

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On the road, my mind wanders as I look out the sceneries. I point at random things in my attempt to educate Yñigo... or entertain him when he won't take me seriously. We had been on the road for three hours. The weather was gloomy. Gray clouds were behind the car, as if it were chasing us. We were making our way to Ilocos Sur, and for some odd reason, I was able to see a small signage that read "Abel Capital in the Philippines". I knew we had to stop.

For someone who loves and appreciates anything woven, you'd understand my sentiments. We were at the heart of Bangar, La Union - a town famous for their centuries-old loom weaving techniques. Each piece tells a story of skill and tradition. A lot of hours are poured into every piece of cloth.

As a child, I grew up to these things. Normally, my lola's house would have it. It was a simple cloth that reminded me of slow, beautiful days.

Since I've been collecting blankets and towels from all our travels, our son's sleeping blankets a.k.a. his 'kutkots' (something he has to tinker with to fall asleep) are all woven, with most of them being inabel.

I wanted to see how they make this up close. I also wanted to buy - not just to support the weaving communities in this town, but to fill my collection with inabel! Bobby turned back so we could find a place. We were going in circles. Google Maps wasn't updated, but thankfully we spotted Nogueras Weaving.

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I wanted to barge in, but because of hiya, I asked Bobby if he could 'use the bathroom' then inquire. He succeeded and next thing we knew, we were in a room full of inabel! Gosh, I almost fainted. I love anything woven so so so much. I admire all the women who have mastered this craft, and who continue doing it despite having more advanced options.

Yñigo spent time running around inside, even diving into the pool of blankets, table runners and cloth! I took my time to admire everything. I paused to observe the intricate details on each piece.

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We met Phil Marie Nogueras, one of the owners and was such a dear to talk to. She would tell me stories on how they really wanted to give women in their community a channel of livelihood. We talked about our appreciation for this loom technique, and how their family has tried living this tradition for years now. She was very much satisfied when supporting local rose because now, Filipinos love buying their work (compared to before daw when foreigners would be their usual customers).

Nogueras brought up how customers would price their products, especially when these customers establish businesses here in Metro Manila. She gets shocked sometimes since some aren't transparent with her. Once, in a trade fair, she pretended to inquire from one of the businesses her client owns. She's sadden with how high they are cause, in her words, 'sobrang layo sa mga presyo namin'. But she has also come to understand that that's just how business works.

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Here's some of a few things we spotted

After a few minutes of chatting, she asked if I wanted to see where the magic happens. Before I could even say yes, Yñigo had wandered and rushed to the back.

It wasn't as busy. I was marveled by the weaving contraptions. I've seen some before when we were in Abra, pero may mga pagkakaiba talaga. With how it was set up, and the way they use it. Each weave technique is like a stamp of a place, talaga. We met Manang Violy who was doing a rainbow blanket. Up close, you can see each strand being placed on top of one another. How they fit perfectly with each other. How one wrong move can be crucial to the outcome. How she uses her body to move with the weaving machine.

Anyway, after watching how they do it, we went back out and spent another 30 minutes going through all the tela. Ahhhhh it was inabel heaven. Was really happy with what we went home with 'cause now, we get to have a piece of Bangar with us in the very room we call home.

I end my kwento here.  'Til the next one.