The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) concluded this year’s Philippine Textile Congress at the 2023 National Science, Technology, and Innovation Week (NSTW) in Iloilo City.

With the theme “Futures Thinking for Philippine Textiles,” the congress aimed not only to convene textile academics but also to pave the way for increased economic activity and entrepreneurship in the industry, as stated by DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. on Friday, 24 November 2023.

Sec. Solidum emphasized that the knowledge created should not merely be remembered but applied to action. He highlighted the importance of research, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, stating, “More benefits will redound to our kababayan if we can really do research, technology, innovation with entrepreneurship.”

Beyond aesthetics, the congress underscored that the textile industry offers a stable source of income for Filipinos.

The Philippine Textile Congress served as a platform for collaboration among researchers, students, creatives, industry partners, and textile experts. It featured a 12-session research colloquium covering textile innovations, digitalization, designing, product development, education and training, as well as its significance in biomedical, security, and defense, with researchers from around the world. Innovation dialogues with textile stakeholders in various sectors were also held for potential collaboration.

Textile program to be implemented in tertiary education

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Fashion Design and Merchandising Chair Olivia Lopez announced that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has approved the implementation of a Bachelor in Textile Design in their college for the academic year 2024-2025.

“The degree program, although design-based—we are a design-based discipline, is ideal for those who see creativity, technology, and science as important aspects of one’s identity and culture and seek meaningful contributions for a greater cause,” said Professor Lopez.

The program will use a transdisciplinary methodology in studying textiles, including fashion design and merchandising, architecture, interior design, industrial design, arts management, production design, and export management, explained Lopez.

“These programs all involve the use of textiles, either as a material, a product, or the systems and processes and management involved in producing textiles,” she added.

The curriculum will be based on CHED Memorandum Order 43 series of 2017, outlining policies, standards, and guidelines for undergraduate programs in Fine Arts and Design, requiring three years or two terms for completion, Lopez noted.

“With the passion economy becoming mainstream, new kinds of careers, drawing upon a person’s intrinsic curiosity will become the norm. And hopefully, finishing a degree in textile design in the Philippines will become a norm. Sana po,” Lopez said.

Green and sustainable textile market

Co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Bayo clothing, Anna Lagon, acknowledged DOST-PTRI’s role as their partner in promoting sustainability and innovation in the fashion industry.

“The government’s role through agencies like PTRI provides the necessary resources that cushion the financial strain of developing new supply chains,” Lagon said. “This underscores the crucial role of purposeful partnerships in creating a supportive ecosystem for the advancement of sustainable textile development in the fashion industry.”

Lagon shared that Bayo aims to achieve zero waste, zero carbon emission, and a circular economy business model. Besides locally made apparel, Bayo offers training and workshop opportunities to marginalized individuals for sustainable livelihood.

Additionally, Raymond R. Tan, a university fellow and current Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at De La Salle University (DLSU), noted the growing interest of buyers in sustainable fashion and how Life-cycle assessment (LCA) could help certify that textile products in the Philippines are eco-friendly.

Tan explained that LCA is a methodology used to evaluate the environmental impacts, both direct and indirect, of product systems. He emphasized the potential for the Philippines to reach lucrative export markets by offering certifiably sustainable fiber and textile products at a premium price.

However, Tan highlighted the shortage of human resources, particularly LCA users and experts in the industry, government, and academia. He mentioned an agreement between DLSU and PTRI to collaborate on various research projects and conduct training for scientists and researchers in PTRI to develop LCA expertise.

To conclude this year’s congress, DOST-PTRI Director Julius L. Leaño, Jr. announced the third installment of the annual Philippine Textile Congress, scheduled for November 2024, with the theme “Fostering Transdisciplinary Textile Knowledge Generation and Translation.” (By Kristine Erika L. Agustin, DOST-STII)