Visayan Weaving Traditions
Visayan weavers produce cloth from a variety of bast fibers - abaca, cotton and pineapple piña, mostly grown and cultivated in the province of Aklan, in Central Visayas. Except for cotton, the fiber extraction of piña is similar to abaca but adds a few more steps to get the finest fiber from the leaves of the red Spanish pineapple variety. Although pineapple is not native to the Philippines, the process of creating textile has remained the same from precolonial times. Piña cloth enjoyed an esteemed status in both pre-World War II Manila and Europe and competed with their finest fashions especially if the piña was embellished with intricate embroidery performed by skilled workers in the towns of Laguna and Batangas, in southern Luzon. Abaca textile, though not as fine as piña also earned the reputation as durable textile known as sinamay, and is a favorite of milliners. Early Visayans grew cotton and were known for its quality but the introduction of sugar crops and cheap cotton imports from India during the 19th century ended Iloilo's weaving prominence. A quiet resurgence of Visayan weaving has emerged especially of Hablon, a Iloilo-inspired multicolored tube cloth that was its former signature weave.