It seems appropriate to end the posts on my recent trip to Legazpi with some musings on Abaca, that spectacular fiber from the region. I always associated Abaca with Bicol because of all the placemats, handicrafts such as baskets and rugs, rope for ships, etc. that seemed to emanate from there. I just assumed Bicol was the epicenter of abaca. That turns out to be false, it seems, but nevertheless this post. Abaca fiber is considered to be among one of the strongest natural fibers around. Single fibers can be up to 8 or 9 feet long which is what makes it terrific for spinning into manila help or rope or cordage, most often visually associated with ships being tied to the docks. For a while, most of the biggest and strongest ropes globally came from the Philippines. These days, synthetics have displaced a lot of naturally made ropes. The abaca plant, which is indigenous to the Philippines, is related to the banana tree (actually an herb, not a tree). The only distinguishing feature is that its leaves are skinnier and more upright that that of a banana. It bears fruit as well, but it is less edible than bananas.
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