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By Elizabeth R. Gonzales*

The last woman I saw wearing a patadyong was my grandmother. She was a Cebuana, but got to spend the rest of her days in Antique for she married my grandfather from Antique. Like alitaptap, I also have this strange feeling that such a topic belongs to ancients.

            Seeing my grandmother wearing her patadyong made me wonder how the patadyong came about.  So here goes my lola’s answer: According to the Maragtas Legend, Datu Lubay taught the villagers how to weave. If the Antiquenos are proud of their patadyong in Bugasong, it is because of Datu Lubay.  He is said to be one of our last known Bornean forebearers. Some say that he was different because he was an artist. Nevertheless, it was said that it was because of him that patadyong weaving became one of the oldest continuing customs in our town.

Patadyong weaving is one of the oldest industries in my hometown Bugasong, particularly in Brgy. Bagtason. The weaving industry there is very evident and weaving is as natural as breathing. In almost every balcony of the houses there, you can see a lot of tiral.  Tiral is a wooden loom used by the weavers to produce patadyongs of different designs. If the dressmakers have their sewing machines, the weavers have their tiral.

Now, you may ask what the heaven is patadyong. Patadyong is the cloth of man y colors of stripes, squares, and rectangles. It is like a malong (the tubelike garment of the Muslims) but with a checkered or plaid design. The patadyong has a variety of uses.   Primarily, women used it as a skirt , paired with a blouse called kimona.  Also, the patadyong  was used as a mobile, personalized bathroom because in the olden days, women took their bath and washed their clothes in the river. With either one hand or their teeth holding the patadyong,  they soap and clean their bodies with another hand, assured of protection from malicious eyes.  I remember my lola would  take her baths at the water pump outside the house, using her patadyong  to cover her up.

            The patadyong was also used as a hammock for babies and for transporting the sick across hills, valleys, and rivers.

            Being a Bugasongnon (that is how people from Bugasong are named), I have always been hearing a lot about the patadyong made in Bugasong but I haven’t seen any of it yet. I haven’t even been to Barangay Bagtason yet-until I went there on September 9, 2007.

            It was my first time to go there and I nearly got lost. I was making my way along the dusty roads of Bagtason under the extreme heat of the sun and I felt like cursing, not because I hated the idea of walking, but because I was starting to get nervous. How could I be calm when I did not have any idea who and where these patadyong weavers were.

I felt so lost, literally. Luckily, I saw a group of handsome passersby, on their way to the barangay chapel.  So I asked them if they knew where the house of one of the weavers is.  They walked me to Eden Serra‘s house.

            Mrs. Serra is a 55 year-old weaver who’s been weaving for almost 30 years-almost half of her life. Not only does she weave patadyong, she makes dresses and hats out of hablon as well.   Hablon are hand-woven textiles, sometimes in muted colors and sometimes in combination with silk threads.   Although both are hand-woven, hablon does not employ checkered patterns. 

            Among the many weavers in Bagtason is also Florita Cadapan who has been weaving patadyong for almost 30 years. Her house is just a step away from  56 year-old Yolanda Valenzuela‘s house, still another patadyong weaver.   She has been weaving patadyong for almost 43 years since she started at 13.

            Like Bugasong, Iloilo also produces patadyong as well as other woven cloth since it was once the textile capital of the Philippines.  Today, with the change in lifestyle, demand for the patadyong is only for special occasions. Many of the children of weavers would rather work as factory workers or domestic helpers rather than spend their time in front of the old tiral.   

            I hope this tradition of weaving colorful patadyong will gain more recognition and patronage for it is what gives Bagtason, Bugasong, Antique its identity.

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* Elizabeth R. Gonzales is a 2nd year BA Broadcast Communication student at the University of the Philippines Visayas. She sleeps, eats, and breathes music and movies. She loves medieval history and literature oh so very much. She even has this illusion that she was guinevere or isolde in her previous life. She is highly romantic, yet ironically, a love cynic. She cannot swim or sing well, but she can dance. She hates sentimentalism but then again, she feels like crying everytime she hears Hale’s Broken Sonnet and Alanis Morissette’s Ironic