Title The Story of Abaca
Author Elizabeth Potter Sievert
Publisher Ateneo de Manila University Press
The Story of Abaca is a human story told through the experiences of farmers, traders, and entrepreneurs who cultivate, market, manufacture, and promote the Philippine abaca industry. Often called manila hemp, abaca is indigenous to the Philippines and its commercial production has always been centered here.
The king of Spain, the book reveals, rejected abaca rigging for his sailing fleet in the 17th century. Had he not been so shortsighted, he might have found the riches he sought in his Asiatic colony, not in spices or gold, but in the strength and durability of the fibers extracted from the abaca plant that grew so abundantly in the archipelago. Some two centuries later, other naval powers, notably the U.S. and the U.K., did discover these extraordinary characteristics for their marine cordage. The author chronicles the subsequent international competition, which continues today not so much for ropes, but for the specialty papers for which abaca is uniquely well suited.