Arevalo Weaving

Arevalo Weaving

Arevalo is the westernmost district in Iloilo City as it borders Oton to the west. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘flower capital of Iloilo’ due to its collection of ornamental plants. It is also known for its firecrackers, fireworks, resorts, nightlife, and beaches. Apart from that, it is also home to many cultural and heritage sites such as the Santo Niño de Arevalo Parish and the Camiña Balay na Bato (Avanceña Ancestral House).

Photo by: Melo Villareal
One of the prominent industries that Arevalo birthed to is the weaving industry. “Time was when Iloilo was the leading center of the textile and other weaving crafts in the Philippines. The weaving industry of the province dates back to the pre-Spanish period when the Ilonggos wove textiles from abaca, pineapple, cotton, and silk,” excerpts from the book written by Henry Funtecha entitled Iloilo’s Weaving Industry During the 19th Century. “By the 19th century, the textile production of Iloilo had already reached a remarkable degree of development. In fact, Iloilo at that time was referred to as ‘the textile center’ of the Philippines, the main trade textile products being sinamay, cotton, and silk fabrics. The early growth of the handicraft weaving industry brought about considerable export of cloth to Manila and foreign countries and resulted in the earliest recorded capital accumulation among Iloilo’s emerging urban middle class. It also produced the region’s first urban concentrations at Jaro, Molo, and Arevalo. Iloilo’s hablon industry was concentrated in Jaro, Molo, Arevalo and Mandurriao, but other towns like Miag-ao, Tigbauan, Sta. Barbara and Janiuay were also noted for weaving, especially the “patadyong”, the common wear of women at that time” another excerpt from the same book. One of the country’s finest fabrics was produced by Iloilo’s weaving industry. However, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the sugar industry, the weaving culture slowly dwindled away. However, in Arevalo, it stood strong. One remarkable example is the Arevalo Sinamay House. Owned by Mrs. Cecilia Gison Villanueva, the Arevalo Sinamay House was established in the late 19th century by her great grandfather, Captain Victorino Chavez. The business was handed down by the captain to his son, Cornelio, and Cornelio to his daughter, Mrs. Rosario Chavez Gison. In 1958, Cecilia Villanueva, the second child of Rosario, inherited the business. During this time, the Sinamay House had a number of weavers. The weavers worked in their own respective homes, and they were able to tend to their own household while earning a living. Cecilia provides the items to weave and, once done, be sold back to her. She had a total of ten weavers, some of which were granddaughters of her mother’s weavers. Cecilia then sells the products to outlet in Iloilo and Manila. Finished products include all clothing material for all occasions. “The house (Sinamay House) also has the old weaving machine which until this day functions. It is located on the ground floor of the house together with the vintage car that was used by the family until the early of 1990’s. The oldest between the house and the business is difficult to ascertain but both are living legacies not only of the Villanueva family but also of us Ilonggos,” excerpts from an article ‘Arevalo Sinamay House’ written by Wein Gadian and published on The News Today. Another establishment in Arevalo that patronized the weaving industry is the Camiña Balay na Bato. The Camiña Balay na Bato is a century old heritage house nestled in Arevalo, a district in Iloilo City. The structure was passed on from one family to another until it came under the stewardship of the Camiñas family. To date, it is now owned by fourth generation Camiñas. The family thrives with its hablon weaving business and is also passed from generation to generation. Hablon is a hand-woven fabric made of different materials (cotton, jusi or banana fiber, and piña or pineapple fiber, rayon thread).  The Camiña Balay na Bato was declared an ‘important cultural property’ by virtue of Resolution No. 23-2015 and Republic Act 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009), issued December 2015 for its ‘exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance’ to the country.

Sta. Cruz St, Villa Arevalo District, Iloilo City, 5000 Iloilo

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