Legarda calls for more support for fiber and textile industries to boost local economy in SOCCSKARGEN

March 29, 2022

Three-term Senator and senatorial aspirant Loren Legarda recently shared her top legislative priorities for the SOCCSKSARGEN region, specifically those on employment and livelihood creation.

Since her first term as Senator, Legarda has been pushing for the advancement of the local fiber and textile industry to alleviate poverty and promote economic development in the southern part of the country. She firmly believes that given ample support, the industry will not only help transform the local economy, but will also promote Filipino artistry and culture.

Through Legarda’s intervention, for instance, General Santos City, four (4) municipalities in South Cotabato and two municipalities of Sarangani Province received ginning and spinning faciilities under the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) Cotton Development Program. Moreover, Legarda, in collaboration with the said agency, allocated funds for the conduct of training on basic loom weaving; the rehabilitation and construction of weaving centers; and, the provision of tools and equipment to weavers in Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

South Cotabato, a province in SOCCSKSARGEN that is dubbed as the “Land of the Dreamweavers,” is where the famous T’nalak textile is woven. To preserve the art and craft of weaving, Legarda pushed for the intensified implementation of the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which she principally authored in 2004, as it seeks to expand the tropical fabrics industry and support the local and indigenous weavers and artisans.

As the patron of Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, the first permanent textile gallery housed at the National Museum of Anthropology, Legarda initiated a lecture series at the gallery to give an opportunity to T’boli weavers Haide Forod and Nida Menson from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, to share their craft and skills with the public. Forod and Menson were taught and trained by the late National Living Treasure for weaving, Lang Dulay.

“Napakayaman ng kultura ng SOCCSKSARGEN. Ito ang isa sa dapat nating ipagmalaki at bigyan ng kaukulang pansin at tulong dahil maliban sa ito ang nagbibigay ng ating pagkakakilanlan bilang Pilipino, ito din ang nagbibigay ng kabuhayan sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Region 12,” Legarda asserted. “Nararapat lamang na ating bigyan ng halaga ang pangangalaga sa ating kultura at pagbibigay ng suporta dito upang masiguro na maipagpatuloy ang mga ito at maipasa sa mga susunod na henerasyon.”

Loren Legarda also supported the Kenhulling Handicraft Federation, Inc. in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, through the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), which granted them assistance for the establishment of a Natural Dye Powder Production Hub, and the Kalyak B’laan Care Group for their Regional Handloom Weaving Innovation.

Through the support and initiative of Legarda, livelihood assistance initiatives and programs of the government have resulted in the productivity of the labor force in Region 12. She allocated funds to each provincial government in the region under the DOLE Tulong Panghanapbuhay Sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Worker (TUPAD), which offers a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced, underemployed, and seasonal workers.

As a renowned eco-warrior and environmental activist, Legarda has also acknowledged the need for climate resilience and environmental protection in vulnerable areas in Southern Mindanao. In 2019, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao and South Cotabato were chosen as part of the Climate Field School for Municipal Agriculture Offices (MAOs), Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (MDRRMOs), and Municipal Planning and Development Offices (MPDOs).

Legarda, during a recent campaign sortie in General Santos, declared, “Naniniwala ako na kung ating pagtitibayin at bibigyan ng suporta ang ating labor force at tutulungan ang bawat komunidad na magkaroon ng kakayahang palakasin ang kani-kanilang potensyal base sa mga available na resources, mas magiging madali ang pagbangon ng bansa sa pandemya. Dalawang taon na nating binubuno ang epekto ng pandemya sa ating kabuhayan, kaya patuloy ang ating pagsisikap na mailapit sa mamamayan ang mga programa ng pamahalaan upang masiguro na sama-sama tayong babangon.”***