Abel-weaving is one of the few surviving traditional crafts in Vigan. Historically, the high demand for the famous handwoven abel Iloco nearly killed the Spanish weaving industry during the galleon trade era. At least three (3) barangays in the city still have abel-weavers, best-known of which is Barangay Camangaan as it produces much of the local abel products available in Vigan’s souvenir shops located along the Crisologo Street and the Vigan Public Market. The other two (2) barangays with abel-weavers are Mindoro and San Pedro.
Abel-weaving involves the use of a wooden handloom and other accessories. The wooden handloom was the equivalent of a sewing machine in the past, and it produced most of the fabrics used in the homes, including clothes, blankets, and pillowcases. The material used to make the abel fabrics was cotton yarn (sagut). As it is known, the northern Philippines, particularly, grew cotton plants whose flowers were then intricately and lengthily processed in the homes to produce yarn.
On the whole, abel-weaving follows a very intricate process – from preparing and dyeing the yarn, to arranging different colors of yarn to produce the desired design, and operating the wooden handloom with the synchronized movement of both hands and feet.
Abel Iloko products included blankets and bed covers, pillow cases, mosquito nets, bath towels and robes, hand towels, place mats and table napkins, runners, hand towels and other fabrics for clothing material. Traditional colors and designs, which had similarities with the Cordilleran designs, were used in these products.
Source: "Lifted from the Vigan Ethnographic Studies by VMP Socio-Cultural Team"