The province of Aklan, aside from tourism – Boracay in particular, is also known for its world class craftsmanship and ingenuity using indigenous raw materials such as abaca and piña fiber. In fact, Aklan is famous for producing piña cloth, hence the name Piña Fiber Capital of the Philippines.
However, just like the many beautiful places within the province that are yet to be discovered, there is such art and handicraft in Aklan lesser known to most Filipinos and even foreign markets.
The underrated Nito weaving is also one of a kind handicraft in the province. It might not be as famous as piña and abaca weaving, but surely reveals the artistry and creativity of the Aklanons.
Nito vine or lygodium circinatum, the main materials used in the weaving, is a plant belonging to the fern family that grows abundantly in many parts of the country. Clinging to trees and rocks, nito as a vine grows as a secondary forest cover mostly in low and medium altitudes.
Nito vine is native in the province which are found usually in Altavas, Balete, Libacao, Madalag,, Buruanga and in other forest areas in Aklan. Because of the availability of the raw materials, weavers in said towns engaged in such kind of weaving to become their main source of livelihood.
Nito industry in Aklan is thriving and is already gradually getting attention. Beside from nito’s durability, the unique and creative touch of Aklanons are shown in the designs of the products, from placemats, bags, food trays, hats, coin purse, lamp shades, jars, among others.
The Department of Trade and Industry – Aklan (DTI) further promotes Nito industry by offering trainings to Aklanons to hone their skills in nito weaving, particularly in areas where nito vine is abundant.
One of the recipients of such training is Francia Escote from Barangay Habana, Buruanga. Escote is now the owner of Franz Handicraft in the said town.
She expressed her gratitude to DTI for the trainings and skills she acquired. She pursued nito weaving until she was able to master her skills producing many designs out of nito.
“Bale ang materyales nga nito ja lang man sa Habana makuha. May ina man na gasuplay sa akon di. Ginabaligya nila. Nalipay man ako ay indi na ako mabudlayan pa. (The nito material is just here in Habana. There are some that sell their nito vines to me. I’m happy that it is now convenient for us to get the materials),”Francia said.
Barangay Captain Jesus Flores of Barangay Habana confirmed the abundance of nito in their place and he is very thankful for such blessing. He likewise thanked the government, particularly DTI, that provided trainings to his constituents. The DTI trainings has produced nito weavers and entrepreneurs the like of Escote who not only persevered in the Nito industry but also provided jobs and livelihoods to Buruangahanons.
“Kami sa barangay council, gasuporta gid kami para sa nito weaving, ag ha-um kami nga magbulig (We in the barangay council supports the nito weaving, and
we are ready to help),” the barangay chief assured.
Analiza Agoho, is one of those who have jobs due to the Nito industry in Buruanga. With her acquired skills, she is now one of the best weavers of Franz Handicraft. Despite being a solo parent, she is able to provide for her child, thanks to the blooming Nito industry in Buruanga!
Aside from providing jobs to her fellow Buruangahanons, Francia likewise actively participates to the different programs and trainings of DTI especially the Kapatid Mentor Me, wherein she now acts as the mentor, helping others to acquire skills in Nito weaving and to produce more weavers of this kind.
This is to ensure that Nito weaving will not be a forgotten handicraft of Aklan. It is high time that Nito weaving takes the spotlight as another industry to look ahead to for Aklan, by local and foreign markets. (AAL/SQP/PIA Aklan)