Press Release
November 14, 2015


Weaving traditions are in peril. This is not because the youth are no longer interested in working with their hands but because the government has not extended the much-needed boost to the industry. Centuries-old indigenous weaving is seen as just that --- old, when the craft is actually timeless.

Preserving weaving traditions means safeguarding our country's heritage and for Sen. Grace Poe, that makes the plight of the indigenous weavers worthy of a legal framework that will protect and promote the weaving industry.

In a resolution, Poe asked the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce to conduct a study on mechanisms to strengthen the Philippine textile and weaving sectors, saying the existing laws are not enough to advance Philippine weaving in a globalized world.

"The provisions under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (R.A. 8371) and the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (R.A. 8293), and the relevant laws on Patent, Trademarks, Copyright and other economic rights are inadequate," Poe said. "They fail to recognize the unique concepts of traditional ownership of the community in rights and responsibilities, as well as the indigenous peoples' concept of creation and invention."

Indigenous weavers are overwhelmed by low-cost mass-produced textiles. Poe said Filipino weavers can contend with these struggles if the market potential of their products is enhanced. The senator also proposed patent for designs and obtaining machinery and weaving technology to sort of weave new life to old traditional fabrics.

"Although traditional weaving technology is found all over the country, the textile weaving industry largely remains a cottage business in need of product development assistance," Poe said.

In particular, the senator said heritage fabrics such as the T'nalak of the T'boli, Inabal of the Bagobo, Inabu of the Manobo, Mabuel of the B'laan, and Habulan of the Higaonon--all from Mindanao--must be preserved and promoted. She also mentioned the Abel Iloko from Ilocos, Pifia and Rafia from Aklan, Hablon from Iloilo, and Abaca and Sinamay from Bicol and the Visayas.

The Intellectual Property Office has listed the T'nalak as a Geographical Indication (GI) product, which means it is a product with a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities due to that origin. Traditionally woven and worn by T'boli women, the T'nalak is linked to South Cotabato and is already being exported to some European countries.

"We're so enamored with international brands coming here that we tend to overlook the magnificent products produced by our own cultural heritage, and the needs of those who persevere to promote indigenous weaving," Poe said.

The Philippines is the second largest world producer of handicrafts, including weaved products. It also provides livelihood to more than a million Filipinos.

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