The Higaonon and their Hinabol
The Higaonon people are an indigenous tribal community that are found in the northern regions of Mindanao. The Higaonons lived and continues to live in their forest homes, their lifeways focused on managing these forests and co-existing with its other inhabitants in a harmonious way. Though made up of clans that were divided into warrior and peaceful clans, they now exist in peace. They are peace loving people and known as weavers of peace, expressed in their traditional fabric, the Hinabol.
The term Hinabol is a Binukid term for woven. It is used to refer to the woven hemp made by the Higaonon women. It is characterized by colorful stripes in varying thickness and colors. The weavers say and pick the colors according to what they are feeling that day.
Hinabol is one of the general terms for handwoven textile from the south of the Philippines. The word comes from the verb, habol, which means to weave. However, difference in patterns, color combination and type of weave is very much noticeable. While hinabol from other tribes and those coming from Davao and Cagayan de Oro city have very loose weave and uninteresting colors and patterns, those coming from the Higaonon community of Bukidnon boast of a much tighter weave, fun and creative color combinations and unique patterns.
In spite of the use of commercial dyes, traditional process of weaving is still applied -- from the stripping of the abaca fibers, the process of connecting the fibers to make one continuous thread up to the actual weaving. In the same way, in spite of the introduction of new uses for the hinabol, such as a source for supplementary income, the community still prioritizes the traditional use of their hinabol over commercial purposes. The best hinabol are still made into kamuyot, a backpack or a sling bag used by both the men and women of the community to carry their bolos, betel nut chewing paraphernalia, etc. or used as offering to their god or peace offering during Inter-tribal conflicts.
Traditional colors of the Hinabol are lila (vine) black, ilalama (wood) red , kalawag (ginger) yellow and the natural abaca color. Then, with the introduction of new colors, the weavers let loose their creativity and have used these new colors to express their feelings and stories. But no matter the choice of color, the characteristic Higaonon Hinabol shines through -- vibrant colors and creative use of thickness of lines to create interesting patterns.
There are also patterns that stand out -- these are the kinatup and the ginuntiyan. These patterns are considered sacred and are the ones used for offerings. These patterns are uncommon as they are only woven by the wives of the datu.