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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Art of Habi in Maragondon Cavite

One of the things that fascinated me when I moved to the province were the locally-produced products in my grandmother’s hometown. One of those products is a fabric/textile that people call “habi.”  

Photo Credit: Edrock Photography


The word “habi” means “to weave.” In the town of Maragondon, Cavite this is the term used for the locally woven fabric that is commonly produced to make towels, table runners and blankets. During the time that I discovered it (which was more than a decade ago), I learned that in the early days there were many people in town who could produce the fabric, weaving it using a traditional loom made of wood/bamboo.  

Back then my co-worker and I were looking in town for the fabric to buy as gifts, and we discovered that there was only one person who was still actively doing it. I thought that was too bad since it is an art that should be retained and it is something that could set the town apart from the others. I was also disappointed with the lack of options – it would have been nice if there were more types of items to choose from or different types of material that it could be made from. 

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography


Thankfully, I found out that Maragondon has started putting more attention to this product and has launched an annual Kawayan and Habi Festival, which will be celebrated every December. The festival, which had a street dancing competition where participants wore habi items on their costumes, also included a fashion show/competition featuring clothing made from the fabric. This was exciting for me because it showed the potential of this product, something that could put the town on the map. After all, habi products are being sold in the Metro at high prices, and coming up with clothing and accessories produced locally could help make Maragondon known outside of the province (or dare I say it, internationally). 



Some of the products for sale during the festival included shawls and cover-ups. There were also bamboo products for sale and what caught my attention were the bags – why not make them with the fabric as its main artwork as well? Just a thought! 

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography


I think that this festival is a step in the right direction as far as promoting the product is concerned. I hope that apart from the usual products made from habi, they can expand to make clothing that can be sold not just around the country but internationally as well. I think that the local producers already have the know-how, this time it’s just a matter of finding the creative and innovative ideas that can make it something to watch out for. I hope that the people making these products can have the support to make this happen and that it can be marketed in a way that would help to encourage more people in town to pursue the craft because of its profitability. 

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography


One thing I noticed from the festival was that, being on its first year (if I’m not mistaken), is that most of the people who were there to witness it were the locals. It would have been great if people invited outsiders – people who were not from Maragondon – to witness the festival. There were news crews in the days prior, but I think it would have also been great to have people who could help grow the industry that was being promoted. Bloggers/vloggers (I hate the term influencer) could help to promote this as it will give them material to add to their channels and at the same time promote the town and its products. Prominent designers or retailers could also be invited to the fashion shows – this can help show the potential of the products and could possibly be enticed to help bring the products to the public. 

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography

habi
Photo Credit: Edrock Photography


I’m really very excited with the way the first festival was conducted and I am looking forward to future festivals to come. I hope that the industry can grow into something that could help the town of Maragondon to be known for the products that it currently produces. My grandmother’s hometown will always have a special place in my heart and I only want the best for it! 
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