By Ethel Maminta
“Burdang Taal” is a label that honors the fine craft of hand embroidery produced by the artisans of Taal, Batangas. Renowned for the beautifully embroidered piña fabric and perfecting the callado and sinuksok techniques that create intricate latticework not unlike lace, burdang Taal is a signature of elegance, quality and tradition.
From simple to ornate, the hand-embroidered fabrics (whether piña, jusi, or silk) are used for many things such as wedding gowns, wedding accessories, table runners, pillow covers, but it is best known for its use in the Barong Tagalog – the Philippine’s traditional formal attire for men.
Both locals and tourists visit Taal in search of the perfect barong fabric for their special occasion Barong Tagalog, which they then bring to their own tailors or designer for a flawless fit. Those in a rush are happy to simply buy the ready to wear ones off the rack. The finest burdang Taal are said to be found in workshops and stores at Barangay Niogan and at the public market.
Today, modern Filipino designers have taken the cudgels to promote burdang Taal to a wider audience. There are designers who have been working with the artisans of Taal and coming up with new ideas on how to bring the products out to the rest of the fashion world. At the same time, advocating for the industry also means anchoring growth on burdang Taal’s distinctive signature of delicate elegance and quality workmanship.
It is easy to see how this exquisite artisanal craft was nurtured and cultivated in historic Taal, a quaint heritage town south of Manila. What is remarkable is that Taal has resiliently been able to preserve traces of its 17th to early 20th century colonial character through the ruthless ravages of wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, horrific fires and of time itself. There are still street blocks lined with well-preserved bahay na bato (adobe stone houses) from the late 16th to the early 20th centuries.
Clearly, Filipino culture is strong and growing in the people of Taal. As stewards of a town that rests quietly beside the celebrated Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, the townsfolk also faithfully care for their beloved Basilica – the famous St. Martin de Tours Basilica, which is said to be the biggest Catholic Cathedral in the Far East and one of the oldest churches in the country. The people of Taal are certainly living up to the name of their heroic ancestors, patriots who knew what it meant to be a Filipino.