Bochum, Germany — Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda today said that the Philippine piña-seda textile has great potential in the world textile market. Legarda continues to highlight the world-class talent, ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Filipino people, reflected in the traditional textiles produced through synergy among workers and artisans. Piña-seda is a traditional fabric made from pineapple silk.
Legarda made the statement during her lecture on Philippine Textiles at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, saying that the Philippine piña-seda can be considered prized items even in Europe as in the past years because of the quality of the handwoven fabric with intricate embroidery.
The Deputy Speaker’s lecture marks the start of the collaboration between the Philippine government and Ruhr University to offer courses on and promote Philippine Studies.
Legarda—a staunch advocate of arts and culture promotion and patron of the country’s first permanent textile gallery, Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, which has now travelled to different parts of the world—shared how much hard work is needed to produce a fabric from piña-seda.
“A piña-seda fabric or garment is a product of diligence, hard work, and passion. For piña-seda, you would need 12 people to produce the fabric; about three people will do the embroidery work; and, two designers and sewers. This means that a handwoven and embroidered piña-seda blouse would entail at least 17 people to complete one piece,” said Legarda.
Despite the overwhelming support and patronage received from the international community by the Hibla travelling exhibitions, Deputy Speaker Legarda noted some of the continuing challenges faced in the production of piña-seda textiles, such as the limited supply of silk, supply or manufacturer of knotted pineapple fiber, and the declining number of weavers.
“Through the Hibla initiative, we have brought our weaving communities at the center stage, closer to the global arena where weaving traditions and textiles, such as piña-seda will be appreciated in a different light. However, we cannot deny factors that challenge our production of such textiles,” she said.
Legarda cited the following factors that impose constraints on the sustainability of the industry: 1) the low confidence in the profitability of sericulture and the lack of integration of the supply and value chain in silk production; 2) extreme heat during summer season, or extended periods of drought; 3) the tedious process of hand-scraping the piña fiber; 4) the irregular demand for piña cloth products due to its being a high-priced fabric; 5) the lack of capital to purchase raw materials, looms, and other tools by the workers; and, 6) the lack of training on weaving and product development.
However, Legarda said that “the local textile industry is continuously evolving and these challenges only encourage the need to innovate among stakeholders.”
“To ensure the sustainability of the local textile industry, there is a need for convergence among the agencies of government involved—from the production of raw materials, to trainings and workshops, provision of equipment and materials, product development and promotion program, and a systematic marketing system,” Legarda added.
During her stint as the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Legarda ensured that programs that will help farmers, weavers and local textile manufacturers—such as the development of silk and piña fiber received adequate support through additional funding in the national budget.
“The strengthening of the local fabrics industry, such as the piña-seda is attuned to our advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving our cultural identity. The potential of Philippine piña-seda in the world textile market presents invaluable opportunity to showcase the Filipino people’s creativity, ingenuity and excellent craftsmanship,” Legarda concluded.
Legarda also authored the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law during her first term as Senator, which aimed to promote Philippine natural fabrics through the use of such materials for the official uniforms of government officials and employees.***