Lumban Embroidery



Gemma Perez sits in silent concentration over her mid-afternoon labor, delicate hands tirelessly shifting the needle along the beginnings of a meticulously-embroidered piña fabric. Sheltered from the scorching afternoon sun by a small foyer of her home along one of the town’s narrow streets, she is joined by other women in neighborhood doing embroidery, their attention broken only by the occasional admirers who come to observe their fine handy work. 



In the town of Lumban in Laguna, embroidery has flourished as a major industry. Mang Pilo showed me around town where street after street are lined with bamboo frames called bastidor, upon which transparent cloth is stretch to dry after being washed with water and soap.  



In houses I’ve observed women execute decorative stitches on cloth ranging from the traditional jusi and piña made from banana and pineapple fibers to modern linen to silk blends.  



A few people realize how complex the making of barong tagalog designs actually is. I am not actually good at looking at these designs but even without a trained eye, I can appreciate the craftsmanship involve in the making of these fine fabrics. 



This involves pulling threads to create decorative warp into the fabric or insert a floral design into the fabric through the process called suksok. Gemma Perez who has been adept to this art since she was fourteen noted that it takes a full week to embroider a surface the size of medium size pizza dough. 



Although some embroiderers are now using machines for mass production, Gemma noted that hand made embroidery are still preferred by most of their clients. Embroiderers use métier a broder, or locally called as a tambor upon which the fabric is dragged out as tight as a drum’s skin on this round wooden stretcher while patterns are being stitched. 



The art of embroidery in the Philippines dates back since the Spanish colonial period. The Spanish nuns introduced embroidery to girls in the beaterios whose fine embroidery has made their way to Europe and America. By the end of the colonial period, the Spaniards made a bid to set against Philippine embroidery with French and Belgian lace.  



Anita Feleo explains that it is probable that the first embroiderers in Lumban where pupils from missionary school. Thus, this traditional art was passed on from generation to generation until it became a lively cottage industry in Lumban.


Gemma Perez can be reached at 0918.2902498




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24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] In our recent visit to this lakeshore town, we saw several large rectangular bamboo frames called bastidor, upon which gossamer cloth is stretched out to dry under the afternoon sun. They are like billboards along EDSA, but this billboards tells us we are in the Embroidery Town of Lumban. […]

  2. Hi, where can I buy these kinds of cloth in Manila? Lumban is a bit far away.

  3. Outstanding work, so unique, beautiful and labor intensive.
    Do you know where we can see the textiles made by the women from this town?
    Thank you

    • Hello Analia, Get a hold of Lolita Lakbay-Rosales’ embroidery at +63.0920-648.24.40 or visit her at 018 Rizal St. Barangay Maracta, Lumban, Laguna Province, Philippines.

  4. Never seen or heard of it. It is beautiful.

  5. Preciosos bordados que yo ni siquiera había visto en mi vida, lo alucinante es que todo es a mano, eso es arte puro.

  6. What beautiful embroidery! I am looking for a small quantitiy of pina cloth for embroidery. I have been using Indian cotton and would like to try out some pina. Thanks in advance for any suggestions of where I may be able to purchase some.

  7. Reblogged this on A Cup of Tea With This Crazy Nia.

  8. everything is amazing and really beautiful^_^ thanks for sharing

    • Thank you Raul.

  9. every thing is beautiful ^_^

  10. hi! would you have an idea how much these pina clothing costs there in lumban? thanks! 🙂

  11. Hi, I have a dress shop in Mandaluyong City and I am looking for a supplier for barong fabrics such Jusi, Pina, Cocoon and the like.
    I have inquiry for a wedding entourage all in Filipiniana attire.
    Thank you.

  12. I am interested establishing Philippine jusi/pina suppliers to establish business in the US with the intent of establishing awareness and market presence .
    I will be needing
    plain & embroidered samples
    sample yardages = what are the rules :lead-time ,charges, cost of shipping, handling
    bulk leadtime
    price fob
    minimum order
    Thank you

  13. i have a tailoring here in cabanayuan city… im looking for a supplier of barong.. can u give me the price for jusi pina , pina cocoon , pina .. and i wonder if abaca is still available.. thanks.. pls .. reply me as soon as possible.

  14. I really appreciate it bacause it is really nice!!!

  15. […] Lumban, Laguna, Philippines: Professional embroiderers on natural pineapple fabrics 8 02 2010 Please read the blog entry here where I found these photos. […]

  16. i want to know the price of coocoon pina materials, table runner, table cloth. do u have website.

    thank you

  17. very nice work .i apreciated very much .
    i from morocco i work on embroidery too .those women doing great job .

  18. Hi,
    I’m planning to go home (Philippines) in a month or so and would love to visit the embroiderers in Lumban. I wonder if the contact number posted is still the same.
    Also, I would love to learn some of their embroidery technique. Is there a place to stay there for just a short period of time? i.e. hotel, room for rent, etc.

    Thank you so much for the post.

    ELES <<< stitcher too

  19. Hi there, would you know how much a token embroidery from Lumban costs?I am doing a tour of Laguna for my Laguna Travel Guide and we are planning to check this out. Thanks in advance


  20. Es un ermoso trabajo

  21. Thank you for visiting Ewok.

  22. Amazing post. Very interesting. Glad you shared this.

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