TELA Nation: Revitalizing the Fiber and Textile Industry in the Philippines

As I was preparing for my next textile project I received an invitation from the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to participate in the “TELA Nation” Conference. This was held last January 28, 2016, at the DOST Executive Lounge from 9am to 5pm.


I was also invited to exhibit my entry entitled “Di-Matinag” (Indestructible), finalist for the 53rd Japan Fashion Design contest. It was a perfect venue to display the entry since it was promoted alongside the recent textile developments of PTRI’s engineers and scientists.


DOST-PTRI exhibit of textiles and fibers with master weaver Josie Garlitos and designer Jean A. Dee
I remember the first time I attended a PTRI conference. It was about 3 years ago (June 2013) when Ms. Virmila Alvarez, who is a former specialist in PTRI, invited me to attend. If not for her invitation, I would have zero knowledge and appreciation for traditional textiles and local natural fibers.

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The Precedent of Cloth: Baskets and Mats (FITE Part 4 of 6)

Basket making is the first form of weaving, said Robert Lane ‎owner of Silahis Arts and Artifacts Inc..

Robert Lane casually lecturing.
Robert Lane casually lecturing.

Man began to twist dried leaves together to form rope. By coiling or interlacing these fibers they eventually formed what we call baskets. Baskets by definition are lightweight containers used to hold or carry things many times its original weight. These are typically made from any interwoven strips and Philippine baskets are usually made from wood or plant fibers like pandan, rattan, nito and bamboo.

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The Fine Art of Piña with Patis Tesoro (FITE: Part 3 of 6)

Patis Tesoro, the “Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion” is an advocate of piña (pineapple) and other indigenous materials held a talk in the afternoon of July 8, 2015 at FITE in the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. She made a brief yet eye-opening presentation on how piña fabric is made.

Patis Tesoro on the Process of Weaving
Patis Tesoro ready to tell the story of the process of Piña. On her table are actual handwoven Piña pieces she designed.

I already knew before I attended her talk that piña was really difficult to make. Having done weaving myself I realize how time consuming it is to prepare the warp, the loom and weave. It took me almost five days to finish a scarf and I just used commercial polyester threads. With yarns like silk and piña, the task is probably ten times more difficult.

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Basket Weaving: Project Jellyfish with Ueno Masao (FITE: Part 2 of 6)

The first workshop offered by The International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles or FITE was facilitated by Ueno Masao, a Japanese artist who creates bamboo sculptures through weaving.

Mr. Ueno Masao with his artwork entitled Dragon Ball showcased at Lecoq Park Clermont-Ferrand France in September 2012 Photo borrowed from the Facebook page of International Festival of Extra Ordinary Textiles (FITE) in Manila

When I attended the 2-day session, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I was a last-minute participant during the first day and when I arrived I was handed a strip of circular bamboo to work on. Continue reading

FITE: An Extraordinary Experience (FITE Part 1 of 6)

If not for the Facebook ad promoted by Ambafrance Manille, my second week of July would’ve been dull and uneventful. I found out about FITE: The International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles last Monday, July 6, 2015, and the series of workshops and talks it offered just in time. The event featured an exhibit titled “Renaissance” and a week-long series of workshops by local and foreign artists. The exhibit and workshops featured traditional and unconventional textiles, drawing influence and inspiration from different cultures around the globe.

About Renaissance. Photo borrowed from the Facebook page of International Festival of Extra Ordinary Textiles (FITE) in Manila

The moment I found out about the event which opened to the public on July 8, 2015, I immediately emailed the French Embassy to inquire and register so that I may attend the interesting line-up of workshops.
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