Beauty queens cite inaul’s role in women empowerment in Maguindanao

Beauty queens Maxine Medina and Kylie Versoza join Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu and his son King in a “selfie” during a courtesy call at the governor’s office. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera

BULUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 13 Feb) – Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina and Miss Philippines International Kylie Verzosa, who joined Maguindanaons in their first Inaul Festival, said they were glad to learn that the handwoven fabric inaul is giving hope to wives and widows of Moro rebels.

Medina, who made it to the top six during the recent Miss Universe competition held in Manila, expressed her support to the efforts of empowering women with knowledge and skills like inaul weaving.

“I am happy to hear this. Women should always have the avenue for empowerment. Every woman is capable of doing anything,” said Medina, who is an interior designer and volleyball athlete.

The beauty queens were here Sunday for the Palamata Nu Maguindanao, a pageant equivalent to the Mutya ng Maguindanao but without the swimsuit competition.

Medina served as chair of the board of judges while Verzosa was pageant host.

Medina said she regrets that the Miss Universe pageant allowed them to present only one national dress. If only they were given a second round, she would not hesitate picking an inaul-inspired dress depicting Mindanaon women elegance.

Medina promised to wear the fantastic and colorful inaul designs in her future fashion show events.

“Hopefully in the coming days, masusuot ko siya sa mga fashion shows,” she told reporters during her courtesy call on Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

The governor, during the opening ceremony at the inaul exhibit, noted that some of the gowns at the gallery were worn by Miss Universe candidates, Medina among them, during the fashion show in Davao City.

Mangudadatu said they have brought dozens of women scholars to the Women Peace Center for training on inaul weaving.

Beauty queens Maxine Medina and Kylie Versoza serve as judge and host, respectively, during the Palamata Nu Maguindanao 2017. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera

“It will help our industry, it will help our women, especially the wives of the rebels and the widows,” Mangudadatu said.

The provincial government, he said, has partnered with the Technical Schools Development Authority (TESDA) to propagate the inaul weaving skill since supply cannot cope with the demand for the inaul.

Bai Nomina Odin Culi, an inaul expert who was an overseas worker, said she opted not to go back abroad so she could teach and pass on her skills since the number of inaul weavers is declining.

“I’m so concerned of the diminishing number of weavers. This bothers me that anytime, the young generation could not anymore recognize our Moro identity and no one anymore could design our local patents,” said Culi, who is now the head trainer at the inaul weaving center.

For 46-year-old widow Hadiguia Omar, said her age is non-issue to cope with the weaving lessons.

“I can see hope in this. It means additional income for my family,” said the mother of seven children. “We are proud and inspired to do more because our crafts, our designs are shown or sold in the international market and even used in fashion shows,” Omar said in the vernacular.

Verzosa is also considering using inaul-inspired apparel in her future endeavors. “In the very near future, it will happen,” she said.

She said the hand-woven fabric has a huge potential in the global market, adding that the inaul’s “design is something other countries would love.”

Inaul is the fabric for making the malong, a tubular apparel commonly used by Maguindanaons.

The art of weaving the inaul has been passed from generation to generation, and has managed to retain its original form.

Inaul-weaving was inspired from the Malay’s traditional sarong, usually woven in four to five yards in length and width, using cotton and silk-rayon fabrics.

The inaul’s price ranges from P1,500 to P4,000, depending on the design and the materials used. Weaving it takes from two days to two weeks. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)