Buying cheap Cordillera-woven fabrics may help your wallet, but it’s not helping our local weavers continue their time-tested tradition.
This is the issue that weaving industries and textile shops in Baguio are currently facing as the market gets inundated by counterfeit fabrics shipped from China.
Made with cut-rate textiles and woven by machines, these knockoffs are passed off as genuine Cordillera-woven fabrics from Baguio and are sold at a low price in large markets in Metro Manila, fooling customers and slowly killing the industry.
Counterfeit threads and textiles from China would sell in Baguio markets at P85 per yard, while those sourced from local weavers, often referred to as “inabel,” sell at P170 per yard.
According to a report by Inquirer, Virginia Doligas, manager of the Eastern Weaving Room Inc. in Baguio City, shared in a city council meeting last January 25 her worry that the continued sale of these fake fabrics might lead to “irreversible damage that is greater than the devastation wrought by the pandemic on the weaving industry.”
In October 2017, Baguio became the first city in the country to be designated by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as a City of Crafts and Folk Art, being recognized for its “verticals of creativity” which included the back-loom weaving practices of women throughout the Cordillera. This emphasizes that the practices and patterns of Cordilleran weaving are cultural intellectual property safeguarded by the law.
But locals are still calling for stricter protections from the law. In response, Antique Representative and Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda last week pushed for House Resolution No. 1549 which sought to investigate the appropriation of Cordilleran patterns in garments being circulated in the market today.