THE textile industry of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) has not only helped boost its tourism but also provided livelihood for more than 400 women in their region.

Inaul is a type of weaved garment in Maguindanao that has been started as early as 1920s by the Royal Houses, specifically by the princesses. Now, after the practice had been passed on from generation to generation, what was originally a royal pastime is now an industry.

Armm Tourism Officer Monina Macarongon said that about 10 looming machines had been granted by the government for use of the 15 women organizations in all of their 36 municipalities. Each of the women organizations has an estimate of about 30 members each.

"All the first ladies or the wives of the mayors were encouraged to head these women organizations, undertaking the trainings because as far as this is already a festival, this time we really mean business. That's why in order to do that, these 10 looming machines were distributed," said Macarongon, adding they conduct continuous training on weaving for their women.

As the inaul fabric is starting to receive highlight and attention from other parts of the country, Armm tourism secretary Ayesha Dilangalen said the demand for the said fabric had also intensively increased as well.

Banwa Creations, an enterprise developing bags and purses with inaul fabric, is sourcing out about 30-50 inaul malong from Armm monthly. Each malong is four meters long. Banwa Creations is being marketed in other countries as the founder is from New Jersey.

Dilangalen said the Inaul fabric had also been promoted during the Ms. Universe Philippine Tapestry fashion show conducted January last year, side by side with the other woven indigenous fabric. Aside from the fashion show, several designers had also been using inaul fabric from Armm to make into gowns and incorporate in barongs.

"We really want to push for the industry of inaul because we saw the high demand of the fabric. We noticed during the Sona, what the senators used and wore were inaul. Because of that, we got the idea that we can help the women weavers," said Dilangalen.