Deputy Speaker and Lone District of Antique Representative Loren Legarda, at the Women 2020: Forum on Women of Impact, urged the government and private sector to continue unlocking the full potential of the country’s indigenous weaving industry, while also ensuring that it remains sustainable and resilient in light of the intensifying impacts of climate change and disasters.
Legarda, strong advocate of Philippine indigenous weaving, textiles, and fabrics, made the statement at the forum session on “Fashion for Development in the Philippine Context,” alongside fellow panelists: Ms. Dita Sandico, President and CEO of Cache Apparel; Ms. Dina Bonnevie-Savellano, Founder of La Bon Vie; Ms. Sopheap Chen, Founder and Managing Director of the Kely Tambanh Khmer in Cambodia; Ms. Jeannie Javelosa, Lead of Great Women in the ASEAN Initiative; Mr. Anthony Legarda, fashion designer and textile technologist; Ms. Maribel Ongpin, Founder of HABI Textile Council; Ms. Alice Liu, Chief Marketing Officer of Penshoppe; and Ms. Bibi Russell, Founder of Bibi Productions in Bangladesh.
Legarda mentioned her efforts to promote the industry, including authoring Republic Act (RA) No. 9242 or the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which promotes the country’s natural fabrics made of indigenous materials (abaca, banana and pineapple fibers); providing funding for cotton and silk processing centers and weaving materials; and supporting Schools of Living Traditions, providing assistance to indigenous weavers and artisans.
“My home province is Antique where indigenous weaving is a living tradition. While there is already significant progress to advance the industry, more support and funding is needed to elevate it at a level that is comparable to the scale of operations in neighboring countries. We also need to ensure that we do this in a sustainable and climate-resilient manner,” said Legarda, who is also the principal author and sponsor of RA 9729 or the Climate Change Act, as amended.
Legarda noted that, for climate vulnerable countries like the Philippines, it is critical to strengthen adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies at national and local levels to address the key drivers of disaster risk and vulnerability, namely: poor local risk governance, weak and vulnerable rural livelihoods, fast-declining ecosystems, and unprotected cultural heritage and indigenous peoples.
She also urged the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to take the lead in further engaging the private sector and citizens to accelerate the growth of the indigenous weaving industry.
Legarda also recommended to plant more indigenous species of piña, banana, and bamboo to produce fibers that can be the country’s unique selling point, adding that bamboo can also help prevent soil erosion and sequester carbon.
“Supporting the indigenous weaving industry is to honor the Filipinos and to recognize their skill and talent in producing fabrics and textiles that are truly world-class. As the industry is closely connected to our environment, climate change threatens its development and very existence. Let us continue honoring our indigenous artisans by ensuring that we protect this industry from the worsening climate crisis,” Legarda concluded.
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