Keeping Philippine cotton alive

THE WEAVING of indigenous textiles with cotton fiber is an integral part of the country’s culture but it has been in trouble for some time. Thus the Philippine Textile Council (HABI), continues its commitment to revive the industry as traditional weavers have turned to the use of synthetic thread due to cotton scarcity over the past few decades.

Cotton production has declined since the early 1990s “when the country had 38,000 hectares planted in the crop,” states an article by the Cornell Alliance for Science, citing the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA). In November 2017, the agency spearheaded the planting of the Bt cotton variety, a genetically engineered crop that resists bollworm, in the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and areas in Mindanao in an effort to revive the local cotton industry. Its adoption promises lower production costs and consistent supply.

To promote awareness and the preservation of the use of cotton in local products, HABI is collaborating with SM’s Kultura for the first time through the Likhang Habi Market Fair on April 13 to 15 at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall D. The fair will showcase more than 50 locally handcrafted products from a variety of Kultura and HABI brands.

“Traditional weaves are depleting and HABI is fighting to keep this tradition current and supported. HABI vendors are mostly members believing in the preservation of our traditional textiles and indigenous culture,” HABI coordinator Kelly Mortensen told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

“Kultura carries many brands that HABI supports and some of these brands/designers are HABI members. Yearly, vendors also receive supplies from HABI-supported weaving communities,” Ms. Mortensen added.

Along with the participating brands, cotton growing kits will be sold for the benefit of weaving communities all over the country. A kit contains one packet of Philippine cotton seeds, Durabloom organic fertilizer, a bag of potting mix, and a coconut husk pot — convenient for growing cotton at home.

Lectures on how to cultivate and grow cotton, and a pangalay performance — a traditional dance characterized by hand movements done by the Tausug people — are also in the lineup of activities.

“More than presenting our unique and varied indigenous fabrics, we also aim to educate the public about how important it is to support our traditional textile industry,” HABI president Adelaida Lim was quoted as saying in a the press release.

“The Likhang HABI market experience allows weavers and designers to innovate and to level up to modern trends. Through this, we hope that the Philippine indigenous fabrics industry will get the revival it deserves,” Ms. Lim said.

For more information, visit or follow and Instagram @habifair #supportthehabilifestyle. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman


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