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DOST develops bamboo textile industry in Cagayan Valley

Bamboo is an extremely versatile plant. It has many uses and is notable for its economic and cultural significance in the Philippines.

Bamboo is a famous raw material for construction works, furniture, decorations, indigenous utensils, fuel, musical instruments, food, and many others. But in Cagayan Valley, bamboo's potential for a textile industry has been harnessed, giving a ray of hope to the region's quest to develop its own fabric identity. 

In 2022, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and the Isabela State University (ISU) collaborated to implement the bamboo textile development project in the region.

DOST Regional Director Virginia Bilgera said the first phase of the project was the establishment of a 'Bamboo Textile Fiber Innovation Hub' at ISU Cauayan City campus, which aims to extract and process natural fiber out of bamboo poles.

"We chose Cauayan City as the host for the fiber production area because there's an abundant raw material in the city and the city government also vowed to support the project by encouraging all barangays to plant bamboo to sustain the supply of raw materials," Bilgera said. 

Engr. Jerome Juan, project coordinator of the hub, said fiber extraction undergoes several processes from cutting, softening, degumming, bleaching, drying, and grinding. 

DOST Region 2 Director Virginia Bilgera delivers her message during the launching of the Bamboo Textile Innovation Hub in Cauayan City, Isabela. (Photo courtesy of DOST)

"Based on our study, we can extract up to 40 percent fiber from 'kawayang tinik' that is why we advocate planting more of this bamboo species and likewise the giant bamboo," Juan said.

After the extraction, the produced fibers are brought to ISU Ilagan City to be processed into yarn at the Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center for Northern Luzon. The facility was also funded by DOST-PTRI. 

In the facility, the bamboo fiber is mixed with cotton to produce yarn, which is also a material used in producing fabric. The facility has been producing bamboo yarns ready for market. 

A trained staff of Isabela State University-Cauayan City Campus demonstrates the processes for bamboo fiber extraction. (Image by PIA)

Director Bilgera said they have also tried producing clothes out of bamboo yarns. Samples of uniquely designed fashion clothes out of bamboo textiles were included in the fashion show conducted by DOST last year along with clothing made out of other natural textiles from other regions. 

She also said, based on the analysis of other partner government institutions and private agencies, the bamboo textile of Region 2 has potential for the international market. 

"However, our focus as of this time is to produce more fiber and yarn to develop and establish our textile industry in the region. What we are looking for as the next step of this project is to have also our weaving facility to complete the process into a fabric," Bilgera said.

On the part of ISU Ilagan, Dr. Alfonso Simon, campus executive officer, said they proposed for the establishment of a weaving facility, for both handloom and mechanical weaving. 

The samples of bamboo textile-based fashion attire that were showcased in a Fashion Innovation Event of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute. (Photo courtesy of DOST-PTRI)

"We want to complete the process of our textile industry in the region. We will be weaving our fabric. Through this, we can also develop our own identity in clothing," Simon said.

Dr. Freddie Orperia, professor, also said the textile industry can create more job opportunities, especially for unemployed women, and will spur more business enterprises in the region. 

The yarn production facility is also part of Ilagan City's tourism circuit, offering an actual demonstration of how fiber turns into yarn. 

Dr. Alfonso Simon, campus executive officer of the Isabela State University- Ilagan City, inspects the machines used in processing bamboo fabric into yarn. (Image by PIA)

Bilgera and Simon said their mission as part of the promotion of the bamboo textile industry is to create a uniform for DOST and ISU employees.

"In this way, bamboo farmers will be encouraged to plant more bamboo by looking at its entrepreneurial potential," Bilgera added.

The officials also believed that the facilities are beneficial not only to the economy of the region. It also benefits the universities as they can serve as laboratory facilities for students who are taking up garment trade technology courses and for research activities of both faculty and students. 

To ensure the sustainability of fiber sources for the textile export market in the future, the Department of Trade and Industry partnered with local government units and other non-government organizations to plant more bamboo, especially along the Cagayan River, as part of flood-mitigating measures in the low-lying areas.

With these developments, the region's quest to have its own clothing identity is already an inch into reality. (OTB/PIA Region 2) 

About the Author

Oliver Baccay

Information Officer IV

Region 2

  • Assistant Regional Director, Philippine Information Agency Region 2
  • Graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication 
  • Graduate of Master of Arts in Education, major in English
  • Graduate of Doctor in Public Administration

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