PINILI, Ilocos Norte, August 25 (PIA) – At 93, Magdalena Gamayo, the country’s master weaver of Inabel clothing, got a rare opportunity to prepare a special death shroud as pabaon (keepsake) for the burial of the remains of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Inabel is handwoven textile products done on traditional wooden looms by Ilocano artisans using weaving techniques.
Despite her physical frailty and limitations, Gamayo, a native of Pinili town, along with other weavers in their locality, has given her best in making the Inabel death shroud for the former President.
“My heart is filled with happiness for being chosen to create the pabaon but at the same time I feel mournful as if I am making again a pabaon for the people I valued,” Gamayo said in Ilocano recounting how she had created pabaons for her loved ones including her deceased daughter and husband.
Gamayo explained that the Ilocano tradition of pabaon is the way of the bereaved family giving their departed loved ones what they need after life on earth such as important personal belongings or those that represent their occupation.
“Pabaon is also a way of honoring the deceased,” she said.
Gamayo revealed that the pabaon, which is seven and a half yards inabel, is pure white with ruffles on its sides and is seen to be used for the late Marcos’ blanket and pillowcase. The color of the inabel follows the traditional Ilocano death and burial practices which only allows dark hues such as black and white. However, she noted that what makes the inabel created for President Marcos more special is its design brimming with flowers, saying that “when you truly value someone, you give the person flowers as a special gift and that translates why I have chosen the floral design which I actually dreamt for the President’s burial blanket.”
“This is the first time that we have woven an inabel blanket with floral designs as pabaon as the previous ones I have crafted for my departed loved ones were only pure white bereft of any design,” said Gamayo.
Representing the textile heritage of Ilocos Norte, the inabel has an enormous part in the lifestyle and tradition of Ilocanos.
Asked about the planned burial of the president to the Libingan ng mga Bayani earlier set on September 18, Gamayo said, “Mostly, we are in despair when someone passes away and when the time comes that we bury the person at his or her final resting place. But this time, I have mixed emotions but I am elated that in my lifetime I will finally see President Marcos buried at a fitting place.”
Gamayo, who was conferred the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasure Award) in 2012, looks forward to passing her valued skill of panag-abel to the younger generation despite the rise of technology and modernization. (Freddie G. Lazaro/PIA-1, Ilocos Norte with reports from the provincial government of Ilocos Norte)