Come morning, after breakfast, it was time to check out at our inn for our return trip to Manila. We all boarded our hired jeepney and made our way, out of the poblacion, along Sagada’s narrow, Bontoc Road which was filled with parked vehicles and people, it being market day.
|Sagada Weaving & Souvenir Shop|
Past the St. Theodore’s Hospital, the traffic began to ease and we were soon on our way. We made a stopover at the Sagada Weaving and Souvenir Shop. This pioneering weaving firm is one of the town’s biggest employers. Here, we got to interview Mr. Ezra Keithley Aranduque, the owner who showed us around the weaving area (his weavers were on leave, though, it being the holidays). This venerable Sagada institution, an offshoot of the now-defunct weaving business of Lepanto Crafts established in 1968, was started in Sagada by the late Andrea Bondad (Ezra’s mother) in 1978. The cloth was originally woven from thread obtained through trade with lowlanders.
|With Mr. Ezra Aranduque|
Today, they produce and sell, at reasonable prices, quality products hand-woven by backstrap looms, such as backpacks, purses, hats, ponchos, shoulder bags, wallets, slippers, blankets, place mats, table runners and other products. They also sell traditional Cordilleran clothes such as tapis (traditional-style Igorot skirts), wanes (men’s g-strings) and bakget (women’s belts with tails). All these are also sold in select stores in Baguio City (Benguet), Bontoc, Kalinga and Apayao.
|Jocie tries out a loom|
According to Ezra, his weavers use traditional, intricate Cordilleran designs which consists mostly of vibrant red and black stripes on a white center panel with additional red, yellow, black and green motifs such as oweg (snakes, a fertility symbol) and tekka (lizards, a symbol of longevity) running through it. Rivers are represented by zigzag lines, and mountains and rice paddies by triangles.
|Sewers at work at the souvenir shop|
The tapis, wanes and blankets are woven using 2 distinct patterns – the simpler kinayan or the more elaborate and popular pinagpagan. They spent more than one month to produce just 28 m. of this durable and strong, handwoven fabric which has vanished from handwoven fabrics produced in the region. In 2011, the Bureau of Trade Marks of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Bureau of Patents has granted Sagada Weaving patent certificates (IPO Certificate of Registration No. 4-2009-006672) for its local design described as consisting of a diamond and 2 half diamonds forming an X design of any two colors. The Bureau of Patents also granted Sagada Weaving (Patent Registration Nos. 3-2009-00441 to 00446) exclusive rights, throughout the country, to make, use, sell or import an industrial design which consists of 6 color combinations with diamond and X designs.