Arevalo’s handwoven products


In the 1950’s, the womenfolk of Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Arevalo made woven Jusi, a material extracted from silkworm cocoons. 
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'Tiral' or loom
One of these women was Maura Junsay Arenal. She and the others enjoyed a lucrative craft because Jusi Barong Tagalogs and Filipiniana dresses which were  woven from  silk thread imported from China, were in demand in the then Queen City of the South and the textile center of the Philippines – Iloilo City.
They also exported handwoven cloths to other cities and countries.
In the 1960’s, President Carlos Garcia wanted Filipinos to support their local products, so his All Filipino Policy caused a stop to the importation of silk threads from China.
But Filipinos are an innovative lot. By using locally produced mercerized cotton thread, Maura’s sister, Ramona Arenal-Larida, was inspired to make “Hablon”.
However, the industry suffered as a result of capitalists supplying low-quality mercerized cotton. The finished product shrank and the colors bled, giving “Hablon” a bad rap and leading weavers to turn to other sources of livelihood.

INNOVATIVE
“My mother used to have 100 looms or ‘tiral’. So, when the ‘Hablon’ industry suffered, she turned them into double-decked beds and maintained a boarding house for students of the nearby John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation,” said Evelyn Larida-Jiz, daughter of Ramona.
It was Evelyn’s husband, Mario who persuaded her to revive their family’s heritage when they were contemplating on what she’ll do once she retires from teaching.
So, J&L Hablon was born in 1994.  The name was later changed to Arevalo Handwoven Products to emphasize this fact: the district of Arevalo pioneered “Hablon”.
Fast forward to 2012. The couple opened the Arevalo Handweaving Center located at Brgy. Sta. Cruz and since then it has been visited by designers and tourists.
The first floor has display of varied designs of handwoven Hablon & Jusi. The second floor is the weavers’ working area. There, women over 40 (Jiz said they have two teenage weavers) expertly navigate the loom with their hands and legs coordinating. On the third floor is a mini-hall that can accommodate 50 persons for weaving lectures.
The process of making bobbings


PROCESS
Checking out the looms offers a lecture on Hiligaynon words related to weaving. There’s the “sab-ong” which is the warp.  It turns and twists polyester cotton or silk thread. The warped thread is called “han-ay”; it is placed on the “tiral” or loom. The wood placed in between the warped threads for design is called “balila”.
AHP uses the “sinuksok” process wherein the design is embedded on the cloth itself. “In the sinuksok process, the weaver pulls the thread through long bamboo sticks while the design is created by a shuttle called ‘lansadera’”, according to Evelyn. This results to a floating weft or an embossed design.

SUSTAINED LIVELIHOOD
AHP’s weavers are busy every day, thanks to the initiative of the University of the Philippines-Diliman of doing away with togas in favour of the “Sablay”, the official graduation garment of the UP system, worn like a sash during graduation day.
When the university commissioned AHP to make their “Sablay”, it took three months for Evelyn and the team to come up with the perfect colors and designs of the cloth and the Alibata characters referring to UP.
In fact, the Jiz family is no stranger to the UP spirit. Of the Jiz’s four kids, two went to UP in the Visayas and the youngest graduated cum laude at UP Diliman. All these came way before the household got into UP Sablay production. And the UP spirit lives on in the AHP uniform T-shirt colored maroon. Even the family’s living room furnishings are in maroon!
Indeed, UP’s choice to have a handwoven “Sablay” during their graduation has renewed the hope of many families that depend on “Hablon” for their livelihood.
Evelyn Jiz (3rd from left, front), Mario Jiz (second from left, back)
with Her Excellency Majeda Rafiquin Nessa,
Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines and her family.

To note, we have Republic Act 9242 or “An act prescribing the use of the Philippine tropical fabrics for uniforms of public officials and employees and for other purposes.”
So, in order to support the “Hablon” industry, Ilonggos are encouraged to also incorporate the material in their daily clothing  - either as a full dress or as an accent.* (Kathy Villalon, The News Today, July 19, 2012)


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