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The Story Of Abaca: Manila Hemp's Transformation From Textile To Marine Cordage And Specialty Paper
The Story Of Abaca: Manila Hemp's Transformation From Textile To Marine Cordage And Specialty Paper
Category History
Publisher Ateneo Press
Author Elizabeth Potter Sievert
Pages 332 pages.
Dimension 6 x 9
Copyright 2009
Price US$ 45.95
 Bookpaper ISBN9715505840

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.

How can this fiber be so strong as to hold a ship in its mooring or tea leaves steeping in a teabag?

The Story of Abaca takes you to old ropewalks and harbors in London and Salem, to mills of modern pulpers and papermakers, and to research laboratories in the Philippines.

Elizabeth Potter Sievert, an American educator with graduate degrees from Stanford University and the University of Michigan, has lived and traveled around the world. While assisting her husband with research into his family’s history in the Philippine abaca trade, she encountered an intriguing question that ultimately led to this book. “What makes abaca so exceptional that it was the most sought after fiber for marine cordage by the U.S. Navy and that, today, this same fiber is essential to the production of such specialty papers as a simple teabag?” Sievert found the answer in the abaca plantations, research laboratories, manufacturing plants, and offices of abaca traders and government agencies she visited in the Philippines, and in other parts of the world.

( US$ 45.95 Bookpaper )

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