Filipinos urged to wear PH fabrics as local textile industry faces challenges

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2022 05:58 PM

MANILA — Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato Dela Pena on Thursday urged Filipinos to use and wear local fabrics as the country's textile industry faces tough challenges.

During the 2022 Tela Conference organized by the Philippine Textile Research Institute, Dela Pena said the country's textile industry has grown significantly over the past decades but there have been challenges along the way. 

"Philippine textiles today have not been in such encouraging times as before, like the heydays of big textile mills in the 70s and 80s. More than ever, it demands urgency, relevant strategies and ingenuity in proposing and undertaking interventions to further boost and fortify the industry as we have it now," he said.

Dela Pena pointed to many positive signs in the industry, such as rise of creative industries and the improvement of many sectors. 

"Nakita ko na napakaganda ng mga nangyari mula nung nagtayo tayo ng regional yarn production centers sa iba't-ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas at napakaganda rin ng prospect ng at potential ng non-woven fabrics para maging isang industriya sa ating bansa at mag compete sa kapit-bansa sa sektor na ito," he said.

(I saw the good effects when we created the regional yarn production centers in different parts of the country. There is a good prospect and potential for non-woven fabrics to be an industry in our country.)

Dela Pena hopes more Filipinos will wear Philippine-made fabrics. 

"I join the Philippine Textile Research Institute in calling for support to the textile industry by wearing Philippine tropical fabrics and other textile products made in the Philippines, whether we are in government or not," he said.

Dela Pena also seeks Congress' help as new laws are needed to help the textile industry, he said.

"Sana ay maipush natin na magkaroon ng batas na nagtatakdang magkaroon ng regional yarn production centers sa mga lugar na may natural fibers o iba pang natural materials na pwede magamit."

(I hope there would be a law for the setup of regional yarn production centers in areas where there are natural fibers and other natural materials.)

Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, who was a guest at the 2022 Tela Conference, said the competitiveness of the local industry has been declining over the past 2 decades. 

Among the reasons she cited were low worker productivity, low design capabilities, high costs of labor and power, and high shipping costs.

She said upskilling the workforce and upgrading machinery will be a good start, while government also needs to play a big role especially in terms of lowering shipping costs and other expenses, which affects the overall industry. 

Quimbo asserted that there are many good Filipino designers, who just need a push and help from government and from various groups.

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