It’s all systems go for Fibre Filippine

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo

Definitely a welcome break amidst all these nauseating pork barrel news is the Civil Aviation Board’s recent announcement that both the Philippines and Italy have reached a new air agreement after four decades and under new terms. The Philippines and Italy would have 14 flights per week, a tremendous increase from one flight a week since 1969. This definitely would impact positively on the government’s campaign for more tourists to come and visit.

Another welcome development is the event Fibre Filippine this October where 13 exhibitors will fly to Rome to showcase fine Philippine artistry through premium hand-embroidered products using pinya, abaca and banana fabrics in Wedding Gowns and barongs, suits, table linens, fans, hanky, shawls, pouch bags which will be on display for the Italian audience to appreciate. These materials will be masterfully transformed into beautiful pieces by our renowned designers Renee Salud, Patis Tesoro, Dita Sandico—Ong and Anthony Legarda and showcased in a fashion show on October 17 at the Circolo Ufficiale della Marina— Lungotevere Flaminio, 45, Roma. Meanwhile, the trade exhibition will be held from October 18- 20 at the Aranciera di San Sisto Roma, Via di Valle delle Camene 11, Roma. Expected to attend are members of the Italian business community in the fabric and accessory boutique retail business; Italian designers; members of the diplomatic corps; students in fashion; Filipino business community, among others.

Lumban , the embroidery capital of the Philippines joins Fibre Filippine as one of 13 exhibitors. Hand embroidery is more than just a livelihood of Lumban. It is a tradition passed on from generation to generation by burdaderos or embroiderers using Philippine natural fibers like pinya, abaca and and banana. The other exhibitors to be featured include Cacharel Apparel of Dita Sandico-Ong, ELM’s Accesoria de Casa, Gida’s Tnalak International, Herb’s International Best, Janlen International Export Inc., Kath’s Handicraft, Klowil Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Twinkle Ferraren, A&S Handrafted Arts Inc., Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry-Iloilo, Ai-She Footwear of Liliw Laguna, Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts.

Fibre Filippine was single-handedly organized by Madame Marie Luarca-Reyes, wife of our Philippine Ambassador to Italy Virgilio Reyes, as Executive Director of European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD). This pilot project launch in Italy aims to make Filipinos take pride in themselves bringing to new heights possibilities for cultural interaction between home and host countries. Mrs. Reyes said organizing this trade exhibition is primarily to introduce to the Italian society the abilities and talents of the Filipinos in the use of their natural fabric; showcase creativity of Philippine artists using pinya, abaca and banana in haute couture fashion, ready-to-wear, fashion accessories, table linens, handkerchiefs, doilies, bags, table napkins other industrial uses and to bring Philippine’s fashion culture to Italy featuring the pinya, abaca and banana fibers that have many uses but not internationally known and recognized. It also hopes to open investment opportunities for Fil-Italians in growing the production of pinya and abaca in the homeland, assist Filipino farmers increase their production of Pinya-Abaca-Banana while encouraging the use of “green” farming methods, challenge 2nd generation Fil-Italians fashion and industrial designers to apply pinya and abaca in western modalities, giving new look to the use of the fiber not seen before, and to inspire Italian textile and fashion establishments in using Filipino natural fibers for local use. It is hosted by the Philippine Embassy-Rome, co-sponsored by the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), PhilPost and assisted by Gruppo Aggiunto of Roma Capitale. Coincidentally, the Philippine Embassy in Rome plays host to celebrating the 115 years of its independence. +

In September 2012 the first Diaspora-2-Dialogue (D2D) Conference was held in Rome attended by some 250 Filipinos in Europe. It concluded with the formation of ENFiD with a vision towards a continued and sustained commitment and link to the Philippines, and at the same time fully integrated with the host country.

That said, the project, Fibre Filippine (Pinya-Abaca-Banana) Go to Rome is an effort to make Pinya/Abaca/Banana be part of mainstream Italian wear and use, a continuing process of keeping alive Philippine culture among Filipinos overseas and injecting it as an aspect of Italian culture.

Why pinya, abaca and banana? These are natural fibers indigenous to the Philippines with which Filipinos, young or old, readily identify themselves to the country, most especially in the wearing apparel. Any special celebratory occasion, men or women, will be seen wearing a pinya-made outfit. The world-famed Manila hemp is from abaca, used from textile to marine cordage and specialty paper.

This is truly an admirable feat. There are 170,000 Filipino migrant workers in Italy, 50,000 of them in Rome, and majority work as full-time domestic helps or caregivers for more than 30 years. The project’s success will hopefully make a dent in changing the image of Filipinos in Italy, that we are not just a country of domestic helpers. Not that there’s anything wrong with being one, mind you. Only that there is more than meets the eye.

God is Great!


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  1. albert madrigal on

    i wonder how pinya, abaca, and banana fabrics can fit into the dressing culture of italians or europeans when most of the time, it’s cold weather here.

    these fabrics grow in the tropics because they suit well the climate.

    taking these fabrics into the usually cold european countries does not guarantee success in commerce. culture, yes! a showcase of culture.

    i bet after this event in Rome, nothing will translate into investments of filipinos and italians in this kind of fabric-fashion industry.

    just like what happened to so many other international expos pinoys did in the past…without research-based data to back up their trade and exhibition events.

  2. Fibre Filippine will be an ideal and marvelous showcase for Philippine art and culture in the realm of haute couture, using the country’s indigenous products and materials.

  3. Ma’am Murillo to better understand why the pina fibre cloth is so exotic it would help if you make a visit to our humble town of Kalibo where this industry has been around since the Spanish times! i would recommend Ms. Anna India Dela Cruz Legaspi, she’s the expert on this! Patis Tesoro knows her.
    another thing it would also help our tourism industry if the CAAP board would also visit the sorry state of the Kalibo Airport, it just couldn’t take the influx of foreign tourist arrival. to be fair our Cong. and Gov. have been “pleading” our authorities for the upgrade but as luck have it, it fell on deaf ears! point is how serious about this industry is at all?! or are we just gonna take the usual excuse, “puwede na yan”! well that’s not good at all! thanks Ma’am for your time!