DAVAO CITY — The second Inaul Festival, which highlights the traditional handwoven textile from Maguindanao, will start on Feb. 14 and this year’s celebration aims to also bring into focus other tourist attractions in Mindanao’s Muslim region.

“This (the Inaul Festival) has the largest contribution to the tourism arrivals so we want to maximize it by also introducing to our visitors not only the inaul but also the other provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Hajar M. Dilangalen of the ARMM-Department of Tourism (DoT) said in an interview on Jan 22.

Among those other attractions that will be featured during the festival are those found at the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Ms. Dilangalen said that about 10,000 visitors attended the first day of the initial Inaul Festival last year, and they are hoping to increase that this year by 10-15%. Last year’s celebration generated an overall income of P20 million.

Many of the festival visitors were business travellers from China, where Maguindanaoan women mainly source their silk thread to weave the inaul.

“We have formed close linkages with the Chinese businessmen since most of the silk we use for the inaul are sourced from China,” she said.

Three types of threads are used in weaving the inaul: the cotton tanor, the silky rayon, and the shiny katiyado.

There is also an autonomous Muslim community in China and ARMM intends to link with them to compare and share cultural practices, Ms. Dilangalen added.

Last year, the inaul weavers were able to link up with buyers, among them a Maguindanaoan based in New Jersey, USA, who now buys 30 to 50 inaul malong every month.

“We sell to her the fabrics and she just customizes them,” the ARMM tourism official said.

Inaul 2
ARMM Tourism Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Hajar M. Dilangalen presents a laptop bag made from inaul cloth. — CARMENCITA A. CARILLO

Ms. Dilangalen said ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman has encouraged all regional employees to wear inaul clothing to promote the industry and keep it alive. The wives of municipal mayors in the region were also asked to lead a women’s organization for inaul weaving.

There are currently 15 organizations with about 30 members each. While there is one weaving center located in Buluan, Maguindanao, most of the women do their weaving at home.

“The use of the inaul fabric during the 2017 Ms. Universe pageant was a big opportunity for us and introduced inaul to the world,” she said.

On security concerns, Ms. Dilangalen said having martial law in place gives the region better security.

“We feel much safer now with martial law and we want to maximize that security by promoting our festivals,” she said.

Monina K. Macarongon, head of the Maguindanao provincial Human Resource Management Office, said one of the highlights of the festival is the Kapaginaul Competition, wherein the best weavers will compete by creating a four-meter inaul cloth and form it into a gown.

“They will compete both in the time it takes to create the cloth and the design,” Ms. Macarongon said.

Expert weavers can usually finish a four meter-long inaul in five days. In comparison, an inaul shawl, sold at P1,500 each, takes one day, to make while a inaul tubao (kerchief) which is worn by men can take half a day.

Ms. Dilangalen said: “The inaul is not just a fabric but a call to appreciate Mindanao fabrics. This is our edge, this is our culture.” — Carmencita A. Carillo