Traditional crafts and folk arts in the form of fabrics and jars is a testament of the rich cultural heritage preserved in the City of Vigan.

A pagburnayan (pottery barn) has produced a national artist in the city of Vigan and export quality fabrics were produced by the loom weavers. We were fortunate to have personally witnessed how these traditional crafts came into existence.


Alongside a fenced corner lot, our horse-drawn carriage (kalesa) was parked.  Souvenir items ranging from shirts, ref magnets, key chains and all sorts peddled greeted us as we walk through the compound.  We passed by a small alley and jars were distributed all over.  Entering another compound after the alley, in the corner was an old man sitting beside a molder with hands drenched in clay.  He is Fidel Antiporda Go – a national folk artist.

Mr. Go was recognized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in the year 1990 for his exceptional skill and ingenuity in the traditional craft of jar making thereby significantly contributing to the conservation of the precious cultural heritage of Vigan, the marker says so.

The pagburnayan visit was an opportunity for us to witness how the national artist works.  The heavy downpour of rain was the backdrop of this event.  Most of those from my generation would imagine pottery in a scene from the movie of Demi Moore, Ghost, and the music comes into play. But quit the imagination as the burnayan is an open space and sans the music, this involves muscle power.  Clay is placed on the turntable; another worker kicks the bottom of the circular stone making the molder spin and the artist shapes the clay to its desired configuration.

The hand-molded clay are dried and transferred to the adjacent brick-and-clay furnace, where the pieces are cooked for some time.

The Burnay industry preceded the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines.  Introduced by early Chinese settlers, the Burnay served as an all-weather container of local products for shipment to China and other Asian kingdoms in pre-colonial times.  Burnay is also used in fermentation of fish sauce, vinegar, and Basi, the Ilocano wine from sugarcane juice.

It is said that the method utilized for jar-making is traditional, making this tour to the burnayan, a part of the “glimpse of the past” heritage tour in Vigan City.


“Our next stop is Abel Weaving.”  Unfamiliar and ignorant, I concluded that the weaving center is owned by a certain person named Abel.  We get off the coaster, passed by some residential houses and arrived at the weaving center.

The first weaving center I have visited was in Abra Province.  Women empowerment in the rural areas is what this industry promotes and I truly support that.  Sharing the same cause, Abel Weaving in Ilocos particularly in Vigan is worth the admiration as well.

Wooden handlooms manned by a keen weaver were a sight to behold.  Synchronizing the movements of their hands and feet is no easy feat.  It takes mastery indeed.

The process was explained to us by the owner of the center and afterwards, we bought samples for souvenirs, as we’ve been told this is the cheapest place to purchase abel products. 

I left the weaving center without knowing what Abel weaving is.

In one random conversation with a friend, she declares with conviction that abel is the generic term for the cloth. It is a traditional woven product of the province of Ilocos and is made of yarns of cotton or sagut, sourced from many lands in northern Luzon allocated to growing this plant.

Another learning it was.

Burnayan and Abel Weaving are two of the industries in the province of Vigan that exemplifies the power of the hands.

Vigan City, Philippines is one of the finalists for the New7WondersCities of the World. Show your support and be part of the Philippine history by casting your votes through:

Text VIGAN10 and send to 29290777 for 10 votes  

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  1. Hindi ko ito napuntahan .. nice sobra .. pede bang itry din cya i mean magpaturo or gagawa k ng sarili mo din prang souveneir

    1. pwede kang gumawa at magpaturo sa kanila kac pagkatapos binabasag dn naman nila. Hehe