23 October 2009
Close to 80 of the country’s talented fashion designers showcased their finest collections in the gala show at the SMX Convention Center in celebrating the International Year of Natural Fibers (IYNF), the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) of the Department of Agriculture organized Thursday.
Directed by Joey Espino, the fashion show serves as a tribute to the men and women in agriculture who painstakingly produce high quality fibers that are unique to and have become the pride of the Philippines.
“We hope to put Philippine fabrics in the center stage of the fashion world,” states FIDA Administrator Cecilia Gloria Soriano. “Through the fashion show, we do not only showcase the creativity of our weavers but, more importantly, generate sustained demand for these indigenous fabrics both here and abroad.”
The fashion show puts to fore the art of hand weaving, one of the most important crafts handed down from generation to generation, and the indigenous fabrics admired for their sheer beauty, uniqueness and global appeal – abaca, piña cloth and Philippine silk.
Abaca fiber produced from a plant endemic to the Philippines and which has been grown in the country for centuries, is carefully woven to make sinamay fabric. It first achieved worldwide recognition as the Manila hemp, the preferred cordage or rope used by sailors and even the US Navy. Today, abaca is also widely used for the manufacture of specialty papers, home furnishings, and novelty items.
Piña, the filmy fiber from the Red Spanish variety of pineapple grown in the provinces of Aklan, Palawan and Camarines Norte, became an important cloth material that in 1571, it was used to pay royal tribute or poll tax. Novelty items made of piña cloth were considered worthy gifts for royalty.
In 1862, a piña handkerchief was presented as a wedding gift to Queen Alexandra on the occasion of her marriage to Edward VII. Its replica can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Regarded as the queen of fabrics because of its beauty and elegance, silk is a legacy from the Chinese who have been in the Philippines for the past two millennia. It is widely
produced in Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, Benguet, Misamis Oriental, and La Union.
The gala presentation is one of the highlights of the three-day joint meeting of the Intergovernmental Group on Hard Fibers (IGHF) and the Intergovernmental Group on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibers (IGJKAF) under the auspices of FIDA and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In 2008, the country earned US$100 million from the exports of abaca fiber and products.