Freeman Cebu Business

Artists, business sector support Argao Hablon

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – A group of Visayan artists and business people called Holistic Coalition of the Willing (Holicow) expressed interest to support the promotion of Cebuano product Hablon.

Christina Maria Gaston, one of the prime-movers of Holicow said that the group is planning to collaborate with the makers of Hablon fabric in Argao by providing them with expertise and know-how on how to effectively create a world-class product that will not only gain interest from the local market but the international clientele as well.

Holicow is a group of Visayan designers, manufacturers, and artisans, committed to sustainability, traceability, fair trade, and crafting the Filipino identity through design.

Gaston, who is also the vice president for marketing of Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc., (CFIF), said that the group would want to play as the "big-brother" organization of the Hablon makers of Cebu saying "we have the experience, and this is where we would like to come in."

Collectively, she said Cebu has so much to offer in terms of levering in design, production capacity, with mature level in styling.

Expressing confidence that Hablon has huge potential to make waves in the global market, she said it is important for this newly revived industry in Argao to be supported by the local players.

"We hope for them [hablon makers] to be independent," she added.

Hablon is Argao's centuries old handloom weaving industry that lost track over time due to modernization and market evolution.

Hablon is derived from the Hiligaynon word "habol", which means to weave and, therefore, refers both to the process and the finished products.

In July last year, designer Dexter Alazas rolled out a complete line of collections made of Hablon initially helping the women weavers of Argao.

Alazas, who owns the Alazas Atelier, started promoting Hablon in his creations, such as scarves, ready-to-wear clothing and apparel, footwear, clutch bags and home accessories, among others.

According to Alazas, the trend of sustainable fashion is opening doors to communities where traditional industries like the Hablon in Argao are considered dying.

Since then, the advocacy had gained strong support from major business groups, including the Department of Trade and Industry and Cebu Province offering their commitment to help the industry.

Business groups like Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others have already started their respective programs to help the women weavers of Argao.

During the welcome dinner for balikbayans hosted by the Balik Cebu Committee for the Sinulog Festival, Alazas' Hablon collection was showcased to the balikbayan and foreign visitors through a fashion show.

According to Alazas, the collection has gained favorable attention from both local and international markets, based on the increasing demand during the past few months. (FREEMAN)

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