January: A month to celebrate indigenous fabrics!

Manual weaving of cloth. (lisyl/Shutterstock)

The nation takes pride in its indigenous textiles this January, designated as the Philippines Tropical Fabric Month under Proclamation No. 313 s. 2012.

From the colorful tribal garments to the classy local attires made from pineapple leaves, the Philippines is indeed rich in both textile raw materials and artistry. In support of the local textile industry and in pursuit of further developing its potential, then President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III signed Presidential Proclamation No. 313 in 2012, declaring January  Philippine Tropical Fabrics month. 

The activities during the Philippine Tropical Fabrics month aims to promote the use of natural and local textile fibers, such as pineapple leaf, abaca, banana, and Philippine silk, in textile production, technologies, and industries in the Philippines. Appropriately, the founding month of the Philippine Textile Research Institute also coincides with January, already celebrating its 56th year this 2023.

Did you know? Through the Republic Act 9242, the uniforms of government officials and employees are mandated to contain at least 5% by weight of either abaca leaf sheath, banana pseudostem, and pineapple leaf, or 15% by weight of silk.

LARA’s banig bag integrating indigenous weaving with a more modern design. (LARA)

One of the local companies promoting local textiles is LARA, a local brand in Samar reinventing traditional weaving with indigenous materials. What was once a passion project is now a booming local business helping weavers in Basey, Samar. They are transforming Samar banig into different products, such as bags and footwear.

Read: Company reinvents traditional weaving by transforming indigenous materials into contemporary fashion and lifestyle creations

Scarves of Creative Definitions are made of 100% pure cotton. (Creative Definitions Facebook page)

In Negros Occidental, another brand is also putting local textiles into the market limelight. Creative Definitions is Negros-based company collaborating with cotton farmers from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental to help make the local textile industry known in the international market. With its farm-to-fabric business model, local weavers and farmers gain more opportunities to develop their crafts through partnerships and more access to the market, which corresponds to the aim of the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month. 

Read: Showcasing the Negrense through a farm to fabric business model

Warped threat being dyed using Mahogany bark extract. (Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts)

The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is not only known for its generally cold climate but also for its rich cultural heritage. Those who have visited the region must have encountered the colorful handwoven indigenous attires. A decades-old company in Baguio is helping popularize Cordillera’s handwoven fabrics. Named after its founder, Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts has become an institution in Benguet, making handwoven fabrics and hand-dyed products and making them accessible to local and export markets. 

Read: Baguio weaving company finds a new market with its line of hand-dyed handwoven products

This Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month, it is important to not only highlight the rich artistry of indigenous textiles and fabrics but also extend support to farmers, weavers, and brands in developing the local textile industry.

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