Launch of Philippine Textile Research Institute’s Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles

May 25, 2015

Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Launch of Philippine Textile Research Institute’s
Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles
25 May 2015 | PTRI Compound, Bicutan, Taguig City

Allow me first to congratulate the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) for the inauguration of its spinning facility, the PTRI Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles.

It has been my lifelong passion to explore the indigenous artistry of Filipinos told through traditional textiles. Through my visits to numerous weaving communities in the country, I have discovered that we have a wealth of tropical fabrics and weaving traditions.

I have seen precious fabrics woven by hand, embroidered with intricate designs, and imbued with natural dyes to infuse color into threads made of natural materials. Beyond the intricate weaving techniques and fine embellishments we find in these traditional textiles, we discover cultural expressions and visions of our history that have endured the test of time.

Traditional weaving communities continue to exist in many parts of the country. But we are aware of the fact that without support from the government and other stakeholders, traditional textile making could be an endangered craft.

Against a backdrop of a fast-changing globalized world, the challenge is: how do we promote, preserve and sustain the many weaving methods deeply rooted in the Filipino culture? How do we support talented weavers, our culture-bearers, and encourage them to continue weaving and to pass on their expertise and art to the next generation?

During my first term in the Senate, I authored the Tropical Fabrics Law, a measure that intends to promote our natural fabrics through the use of such materials for the official uniforms of government officials and employees, and in the process, support the local fiber industry.

The strengthening of the tropical fabrics industry is attuned to our advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving our rich heritage. It will also provide jobs needed in the countryside.

In the National Museum, we have established the first permanent textile gallery in the country, the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino gallery where we also hold the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge.

We have also provided support for our Schools of Living Traditions and weaving communities. But what our weaving communities, local textile producers and related industries greatly need are our sustained efforts through long-term government programs.

It is on this note that I recognize the efforts of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), particularly the PTRI, in preserving and promoting Philippine indigenous textiles.

The PTRI has been working closely with other agencies of government to strengthen the tropical fabrics industry and promote the use of indigenous fibers such as piña, abaca, banana and Philippine silk, among others.

It also provides technical training to weaving associations, particularly on basic and advanced handloom weaving, natural dyeing, provision of weave designs and response to technical services and short-term contract researches. Across the country, PTRI has identified areas as natural dye production hubs and natural dye satellite centers to be able to respond to the immediate needs of the weaving communities.

Further to the efforts of PTRI, the convergence among concerned government agencies and stakeholders must be strengthened—the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) that organize trade fairs to showcase our products both locally and abroad; the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) that promotes fiber products, establishes processing facilities and product development; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for skills training. We would also need local government units’ support in creating a nurturing environment where these age-old crafts can flourish.

The task before us is to help our people value and continue our traditions. We must promote cultural enterprises and creative industries of our indigenous peoples. We must open doors of opportunities for learning and knowledge-sharing so that we expand our weaving communities.

The tropical fabrics industry has great potential in the world market. We should make our distinct fabrics known to our people and to the world. Let us support our tropical fabric industry and preserve the art of Filipino weaving.

Thank you and good morning.