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Nana Magdalena Gamayo: Weaving a Legacy of Inabel

In the cotton farming village of Lumbaan-Bicbica in Pinili, Ilocos Norte, Nana Magdalena Gamayo continues to create a legacy of “inabel” weaving as she celebrated this year her 99th birthday and set to be the first National Living Treasure to reach 100 years old.

While she might be in her senior years, she still makes the finest inabel textiles.

Inabel is a handwoven and intricate indigenous textile from Ilocos Norte made by experienced weavers using traditional wooden pedal frame looms.

In 2012, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) honored her as a lifetime National Living Treasure (Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan) because of her passion in keeping the traditional weaving industry alive.

At the age of 16, she learned the art of weaving from her aunt and from then on, she made her mark by masterfully inventing her own patterns of inabel.

One of the most famous and intricate patterns she has made is the “inubon a sabong” or the string of flowers that can only be created by employing a difficual weaving technique.

Weaving for the next generation

In these modern times that are dominated by technologies and fast-paced digitalization, Nana Dalen hopes to have new breed of weavers who share the same dedication of expanding and sustaining the legacy of pinag-abel.

She passes her knowledge of pinag-abel to her younger relatives and local weavers who want to master the craft.

With the inauguration of the Pinili Inabel Center, which was opened on the day of her 99th birthday celebration on August 13.

Her love for weaving has moved her to donate a portion of her family-owned lot to the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in building the said weaving center. This is only adjacent to her old house.

The Pinili Inabel Center is a 290-square-meter building with P12 million project cost. This was made possible through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Office of Second District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba, and PGIN.

“Sana magkaroon ng interes ang mga kabataan na pag-aralan ang paghahabi at pumunta sila dito upang aking gabayan, kasama kayong nagtatrabaho dito upang maturuan sila,” said Magdalena in an episode of NCCA’s “Padayon”.

Through this inabel center, this serves as an avenue and permanent place for local weavers to enhance their skills in pinag-abel.

With Nana Dalen’s expertise mastery and gift of pinag-abel, the Ilokano traditional weaving industry continues to carry on and goes on until there will be new Nana Magdalenas to rise in this generation and the next. (JCR/MJTAB PIA Ilocos Norte)

About the Author

Ma. Joreina Therese Blanco


Region 1

Ma. Joreina Therese A. Blanco is an Information Officer II of the Philippine Information Agency Ilocos Norte Information Center based in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. She is currently the Information Center Manager of PIA Ilocos Norte.

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