BRIDGING THE GAP
The enduring patadyong in Ilonggo life
Textile weaving in Iloilo dates back even to the pre-Spanish times.Long before the coming of the Spaniards to the Philippines, the Ilonggos were already weaving clothes from various fibers.Thus, when the colonizers arrived, they found that the weaving craft was already well established in the area.
The most common garment woven was the patadyong which was worn by the women folks on a daily basis and even by the men as a tampi, a wrap around the waist.The first recorded account of the patadyong, described as a tube-like garment with both ends open worn by the Visayan women, was made by Juan de la Isla in 1565 (Isla 1565).Also, a little later, a manuscript was written that says that "the garments and dresses of the Bisayan women consists of mantles with diverse colored strips made of cotton" (Blair & Robertson 1903-1909) which, certainly is a reference to the patadyong.The Italian traveller of the 1600s by the name of Giovanni Careri was so impressed by the women of Iloilo weaving clothes of various colors (impliedly patadyong) and selling them at public markets (Careri 1863).
By the second half of the 1700s, Iloilo already experienced the advent of large-scale commercial weaving.This early growth of textile weaving brought about considerable export of clothing materials to other parts of the Philippines and foreign countries.This resulted to a great impact on the inhabitants of the province and its economy so that by the 1800s, Iloilo was already referred to as the "textile capital" of the Philippines.
As the textile center of the country, many Iloilo towns became famous for weaving. Other than Jaro, Molo, Arevalo and Mandurriao, towns like Janiuay, Miag-ao, Sta. Barbara and Tigbauan were also noted.Jean Mallat, a French visitor,John Bowring, British vice-consul to Hongkong, and Nicholas Loney, British vice-consul in Iloilo, who were inthe areainthe mid-1800s confirmed the extensiveness of weaving production in Iloilo that included the patadyong, especially in the southern towns of the province.
The boom in the sugar industry in the second half of the 1800s brought about by the opening of the Port of Iloilo and the subsequent influx of machine-made clothing materials from Great Britain resulted to the decline in the weaving industry.After the end of World War II, the entry of relief clothing goods coming largely from the United States and the popularity of Western style of dressing made its irreversible blow on the remnants of Iloilo's weaving industry.Nevertheless, on a happy note, Iloilo's weaving tradition, focused largely on the patadyong, lives on in a few placessuch as Miag-ao, Igbaras, and Oton.
Perhaps, the reason why the Ilonggos cannot just easily give up the patadyong is because of its multiple uses.The patadyong is more than just a garment.As a wrap around, it is comfortable to the wearer and makes her feel secure.A very versatile piece of garment, it can serve as an "umbrella" to protect one from the heat of the sun or the onslaught of rain.Being absorbent and most convenient for wiping hands, heads and face, especially when one is working, it serves as a towel and apron combined.It functions also as a one-piece bathing suit when bathing outdoors and is worn when washing clothes in the river.It can serve as a curtain and an instant divider or private nook in which one can divest herself of unwanted liquid or change her attire. When hooked to a beam in the wall or the ceiling, it functions as a crib for the baby.It can be utilized as a decorative piece or a table cover.In the rural areas, it is also being used to bundle newly harvested palay and fresh fruits and vegetables.And, of course, in the absence of a mat or a blanket when one gets down for a much needed rest, the patadyong can serve both.The patadyong, in a greater sense, is not just a fabric but a part and parcel of Ilonggo culture and history.