Maguindanao’s handwoven fabric celebrated in 1st Inaul Festival

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 08 Feb) — Some of the gowns made of handwoven Inaul cloth that were worn by Ms Universe candidates in a fashion show in Davao City last month will be the highlight of Maguindanao’s 1st Inaul Festival in Buluan, Maguindanao on February 9 to 14.

The Philippines’ bet to the Ms Universe contest, Maxine Medina, who made it to the Top Six, and Ms. International 2016 Kylie Mendoza will be attending the festival.

ARMM Tourism Secretary Bai Ayesha Mangudadatu-Dilangalen said the Inaul exhibit, which will open at 1 p.m. on February 9, will provide a deeper understanding on the historical relevance of the Inaul.

Youth group performing Sagayan (war dance) wear Inaul malong during an intermission number at the change-of-command of the Army’s 40th IB in Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao on February 4, 2017. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

“Aside from the beautiful gowns, they will also witness the decades old inaul and by-products of the woven fabrics in accessories and furniture,” she said.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Dilangalen admitted that what they can easily push for tourism in the region at this moment are the rich culture and history of the region, including the inricate Inaul designs as the tourism infrastructure, peace and security are still being improved.

“Unahin muna natin yung accessible this time. We need to improve roads to tourism, we have endorsed to the regional government the list of tourism assets for program development,” Dilangalen added.

The ARMM is eyeing an increase in tourist arrivals in Tawi-Tawi’s white sand beach resorts while working with local officials on safe stay for tourists.

This year’s Inaul Festival is a rebranding effort as the annual  Sagayan Festival (Moro warrior dance) is a festival first registered by Lanao del Norte with the Department of Tourism.  According to Maguindanao provincial administrator Abdulwahab Tunga, the festival had to be renamed “to avoid conflict and duplication.”

Dilangalen noted that since the Inaul weave has gained international recognition and will in fact be exhibited next month in Berlin, the demand for the fabric is high and local weavers cannot meet the demand.

“Our way to help cope up the demand is to train more women weavers for livelihood”, she said.

The proposal is to conduct a summer weave camp in Buluan Maguindanao’s Women Training Center together with  the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to train 15 women Inaul weavers from each of Maguindanao’s 36 towns.

Inaul is a technique for making malong. The long practice of weaving is considered the highest form of artistic expression in Maguindanao.

This unique art is passed on from generation to generation and has managed to retain its original form.

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

Today the price of an Inaul malong ranges from 1,500 to 4,000 pesos and can usually be seen in Cotabato’s barter trade stalls. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)