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Vol. XXVI, 3rd Quarter
July –September 2008

Philippine natural fiber and dye ready to dress up high fashion

The Philippines is ready to dress up and add colors to the fashion world with its premium earth-friendly fiber and dye technology. 
“We want to launch an aggressive and fashion forward campaign on the transformation of Philippine textiles into high fashion and world class apparels,” says Dr. Carlos C. Tomboc, director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology.

That transformation was in full view when Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo showed up as keynote speaker during the opening rites of the National Science and Technology Week at World Trade Center in Pasay City.  She was wearing a formal dress made of “mauve pink piña seda fabric”, designed by Anthony Legarda, an up-and-coming Fil-Am designer based in New York.

Materials used in the President’s “two-piece ensemble” is a “blend of selected very fine materials” of 50 percent piña fibers from Aklan and 50 percent silk from PTRI’s silkworm breeding center in Misamis Oriental, Tomboc disclosed. The dye used is from young coconut husk, one of 75 natural dyes sources that PTRI painstakingly developed.

“In the US, a jacket like the one that the President wore would cost $2,000 while the inner dress would be $1,000. And people would buy them,” Legarda said.

Legarda designed Pres. Arroyo’s dress as part of his ongoing collaboration with PTRI on indigenous fibers and dye.  “He wasn’t paid for his work.  But we believe we also helped him get national and international appreciation and prestige for all the research, art, and effort that he put into it,” Tomboc said.

“Philippine indigenous textiles are not inferior in quality.  The country’s hand-woven, hand-embroidered clothing with natural coloring are the next hot things in fashion and apparels”, explains Legarda, whose collections were shown in Asian Art Museum in San Francsisco, and Anchorage Museum in Alaska, to name a few.

The same material used in the president’s attire would cost around P5,000-P8,000 thousand.  It is widely available in Aklan province, PTRI noted.

Legarda also did the customized design for the barongs worn by science ministers of the-10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is currently holding the triennial ASEAN Science and Technology Week in Manila.

“We want to showcase and commercialize DOST technology on natural fibers and dyes, and what is a better venue than the ASEAN S&T ministers’ meeting?” Tomboc added.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
GMA wears naturally-dyed dress. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo graces the opening ceremonies of the ASEAN Science and Technology Week at the World Trade Center wearing a naturally-dyed dress developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI). The dress, made of indigenous natural fabrics, is colored pink using dyes made of young coconut husks. All of the ASEAN ministers wore PTRI-developed natural fabrics colored by natural dyes during the occasion (Framelia V. Anonas, Photo by Joy Lazcano, S&T Media Service).

Top DOST officials including directors of the different agencies and regional offices also proudly wore individually designed piña silk during the event.