Philippine Textile Industry Stakeholders’ Conference Keynote Message

January 27, 2023

Philippine Textile Industry Stakeholders’ Conference
Keynote Message

Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Textile Research Institute
January 26, 2023

A pleasant morning to all of us. It is my privilege to join everyone in this year’s Philippine Textile Industry Stakeholders’ Conference in celebration of the 2023 Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month. My warmest greetings to Secretary Renato Solidum Jr., the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Textile Research Institute, our guests, and our participants.

Let me share with you the journey that we have undertaken to make Philippine textiles gain the primacy that it should have always had. Years ago, I had envisioned to create a standalone museum for our weaving cultures and approached the National Museum of the Philippines to develop one. Although Director-General Jeremy Barns and then Deputy Director-General for Museums Ana Labrador suggested that we should start first on a dedicated exhibition on this, my desire for a museum has never waned. The idea to have our own textile gallery in the Philippines first came to mind in 2012. At that time, it was a vision inspired by my travels to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. I thought, there is so much to show the world about the indigenous artistry of Filipinos through traditional textiles. Why not have a place that will house all these?

This vision eventually materialized years later. In 2012, we opened the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles, at the National Museum. Hibla ng Lahing Filipino showcased Filipino indigenous artistry through traditional textiles, including some of my collections. I remember feeling proud of our knowledge of tropical fabrics, how we are able to put it to good use in preserving our weaving culture, and how we can show the world the richness of our heritage and the ingenuity of our people. That sense of pride and fulfillment resonates with how I feel now seeing solid support for the Philippine textile industry;

Queen Sofia of Spain, during her visit in 2012, could not help but say that it was “the best of the best of the best.” The former Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta, Japan First Lady Akie Abe, American-British entrepreneur Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, and Ermenegildo Zegna CEO Paolo Zegna were also impressed by the artistry and craftsmanship of our Filipino weavers.

This year’s theme, “Pushing Boundaries for Sustainable, Competitive, and Inclusive Textile-Garment Industry,” perfectly encapsulates our vision for the industry. Through research and innovation, we aim to promote our local textiles and empower local peoples and artisans to mainstream their crafts. We aim to share ideas, support communities through programs and activities, and craft policies that will help attain this vision. And we have started to do that.

To support the supply chain, we have supported the establishment of weaving centers and cotton processing centers all over the country, thanks to the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA). These weaving centers are in Antique (Bugasong, Pandan, Tibiao), Iloilo (Miagao); Misamis Oriental (Laguindingan), Pinili, Ilocos Norte; Zamboanga del Sur (Dumingag); South Cotabato (Lake Sebu); and Ifugao (Kiangan). Cotton processing facilities have been established through my support as well, and these are located in Patnongon, Antique; Balete, Aklan and San Vicente, Camarines Norte.

Apart from the establishment of weaving centers, when I was Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, I also supported the production of cotton, providing assistance for such, under the 2016 and 2017 GAA. Cotton farms have been established in Pinili, Ilocos Norte, San Fabian Pangasinan, Iloilo (Miag-ao, Tigbauan, Alimodian), Patnongon, Antique, Bayawan, Negros Occidental, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur, and Alabel, South Cotabato.

To date, I have supported the establishment of natural dye centers in Bugasong, Antique; Impahanong, San Luis, Bukidnon; Madalag, Aklan and Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, through the NCCA, and natural dyeing facilities in Banaue, Ifugao; Balete, Aklan; Malaybalay, Bukidnon; and Davao del Sur, through the PTRI.

Eventually, our country’s permanent textiles evolved into a traveling exhibit, which highlighted the most unique of our loom textiles – the piña-seda. The Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition travelled to numerous countries in Asia, Europe including the United Kingdom, South America and several states in the United States of America for two years from 2017. It has traveled to different countries, including Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain; Frankfurt, Germany; New York City, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Washington DC in the United States; Tokyo, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; Prague, Czech Republic; Singapore; Geneva, Switzerland; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

On the policy front, the Tropical Fabrics Law is one of my first pieces of legislation as a Senator. Back in 1998, as a neophyte Senator then, I was challenged to pursue the passage of this law and convey a message that arts and culture, the local weaving industry in particular, is being fully supported by the government.

As a former journalist, I traveled through different provinces in the country and witnessed how the weaves differ from one another. Each represents a distinct pattern which reflects the community’s tradition, religion, and way of living. This inspired me to help the local weaving communities in promoting their textiles and raw materials.

The law itself prescribes the use of the Philippine tropical fabrics for uniforms of public officials and employees. This way, our public servants are able to carry the different cultures of the local weaving communities in the patterns of the weaves they wear. It also supports the livelihood of our local weavers.

Additionally, to complement the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which I authored, I filed Senate Bill No. 241, or the proposed Philippine Handloom Weaving Industry Development Act of 2022. It aims to continuously empower our Filipino weavers and ensure mainstream government programs in developing our local textile industry.

These are just some of our ongoing efforts for the Philippine textile industry. Witnessing the realization of Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law is the ultimate expression of fulfillment for me. A strengthened synergy in the local textile industry should be in place in order to provide stable income in the country’s textile communities. There should be strong coordination between and among the agencies of the government in support to our weavers – from the raw materials, production, manufacturing, product design, marketing, to financial literacy.

In this light, I would like to commend DOST-PTRI, its partners, and the people behind the activities in this month-long celebration for your hard work and dedication and your constant push for the improvement of our initiatives, supporting each other’s advocacies, and at the same time, promoting our rich resources and tradition through research and innovation.

I look forward to the participation of all government agencies in this year’s celebration and to their support for the Philippine textile industry for the years to come.

Once again, my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations!

Thank you very much!