Prophetic interview on ‘ghost’ consultants

“The money’s the same, whether you earn it or scam it.” 

–Bobby Heenan

By Alex P. Vidal29572442_10211417967587760_356020253209754251_n

NEW YORK CITY — My exclusive interview with Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant Shereen Santos Dulay of the Kabayan Immigration and Network Services Ltd sometime in July 2010 in Surrey, Canada, proved to be prophetic.
When the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines in Vancouver issued an “advisory on immigration and visa-related scams” in July 2018, some of the warnings and violations committed by unscrupulous “immigration consultants” raised by Dulay eight years ago were still apparently relevant and continued to be committed until now.
The Consulate has informed the Filipinos that “Interpol has issued an advisory about scams involving entities that pose as immigration law firms, visa travel companies, organizations or government agencies that target applicants for visas and residents/work permits, covering a wide range of categories such as study, scholarship, high-paying jobs and permanent residency.”
The Consulate added: “The scammers offer professional support for their would-be victims to immigrate to Canada, using social engineering methods as such telephone calls, sending emails and letters that include false documents and applications forms, or routing them to fake or look-alike websites that are under the control of scammers.”
“Victims are pushed to pay fees (such as for administrative processes, online examinations, etc.) and to send money through a specific private money transfer company in advance,” the Consulate further warned.


As Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) members, Dulay told this writer in 2010 they were mandated to report the existence of “ghost” immigration consultants who take advantage of the ignorance of some applicants.
“The mandate of CSIC is to really protect the public, not us,” she stressed. “As CSIC members we are bound to abide by its rules and regulations.”
Dulay warned that “because of lack of proper knowledge, some applicants go to ‘ghost’ consultants who don’t have liabilities.”
She lamented that when some applicants shied away from legitimate consultants to avoid paying lawful fees, “they were enticed and fooled by ‘ghost’ consultants who charged lower fees.”
Dulay lauded the CSIC for its efforts to neutralize unscrupulous consultants.
“CSIS has been placing advertisements in newspapers to warn the public,” she pointed out.
Dulay said CSIS prohibits immigration consultants from giving guarantee of success and faster processing time to applicants “because it is implying that you have special powers or connections with the CSIC.”
“That’s what the ghost consultants are doing,” she exclaimed.


Dulay also warned that foreign low skilled workers intending to work in Canada should not pay recruitment fees to their employers because it is illegal under the law.
The law provides that employers should be the ones to shoulder all the recruitment costs of foreign workers “but there are some applicants who still don’t know this,” Dulay stressed.
Dulay, licensed member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), invoked the guidelines for hiring of foreign workers set by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, saying employers can apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) under the Pilot Project for Occupation Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)/Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
Hiring employers are expected to abide the following, according to Dulay:
-Meet at least the minimum recruitment efforts required for NOC C and D occupations;
-Consult with the local union to determine if the position is covered under a collective agreement;
-Cover all recruitment costs related to the hiring of the foreign worker; and
-Sign an employment contract outlining wages, duties, and conditions related to the transportation, accommodation, and health and occupational safety of the foreign worker.


Employers will also pay the transportation costs for the worker to travel from his/her country of permanent residence to the location of work in Canada and for the return to the country of permanent residence and offer wages that are equal or higher than the prevailing wage rate paid to Canadians in the same occupation and region.
The guidelines states that “In an unionized environment, offer the same wage rate as established under the collective bargaining agreement.
In cases where benefits are offered to Canadians, extend those same benefits to the temporary foreign worker. In order to address unique circumstances, HRSDC/Service Canada maintains the right to set the prevailing wage rate.”
They must also agree to review and adjust (if necessary) the worker’s wages after 12 months of employment to ensure the worker continues to receive the prevailing wage rate of the occupation and region where he/she is employed; help the worker find suitable, affordable accommodation; provide medical coverage until the worker is eligible for provincial health insurance coverage; and register their workers under the appropriate provincial workers compensation/ workplace safety insurance plans.

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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


I wasn’t given my due process, cries Fil-Can immigration expert

“In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you’ve heard the other side.”

— Euripides, The Children of Herakles

By Alex P. Vidal29572661_10210915151185240_5653732937757158570_n

NEW YORK CITY –– A Filipino-Canadian immigration consultant based in Surrey, British Columbia has protested the advisory posted by the Consulate General of the Philippines in Vancouver, Canada on its website on July 30, 2018 saying he was “unfairly targeted and singled out without any due process.”

The advisory, authorized by the Philippine Overseas Labor

Office (POLO) with office at World Trade Center, Canada Place in Vancouver, Canada, said, “The Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Vancouver advises the general public about the unauthorized and unlicensed recruitment of Filipino workers being conducted by ‘Harvard Immigration.’”

“It was so sudden and so quick,” sobbed Jay Razon, owner of Harvard Immigration. “There was no warning whatsoever and I was not given a chance to air my side.”

The advisory added: “Based on the verification made by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (“POLO”) in Vancouver, it was determined that Harvard Immigration is not duly authorized/licensed to recruit Filipino workers for employment in Canada. Filipinos seeking employment in Canada are advised to deal only with legitimate

recruitment/employment agencies that are duly registered and accredited with the

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (“POEA”).”


The advisory stressed that “a license to engage in immigration consultancy activities is not an authority to undertake recruitment of Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFW”). It is also prohibited even for a licensed recruitment agency to charge a worker any recruitment fee to facilitate deployment to Canada.”

Razon, 63, said he surmised the advisory came out in the heels of an advertisement in the Surrey-based Philippinze Showiz Today by Lucky Supermarket located on Kings Boulevard in Surrey, which announced the hiring of workers for various positions.

He admitted he had “an outstanding contract” with Lucky Supermarket “to provide immigration services to potential supermarket workers.”

Razon, who obtained a license to operate for Harvard Immigration two years ago,

Clarified that “I was not hired primarily by the company (Lucky Supermarket) to recruit the workers but for immigration services e.g. LMIA application and Work Permit application.”

LMIA is Labour Market Impact Assessment, a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker.

He said his company did not sign any contract with the workers.

The newspaper advertisement “clearly stated that applicants may send their resume directly to the”

“If hired by the company I can now offer my immigration services,” Razon explained.

A nurse and civil engineer by profession, Razon pointed out that “I am a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC) but not a licensed worker recruiter here in Canada nor in the Philippines. I am just not allowed to recruit workers.”


Upon the suggestions of Joel Castillo, president of the United Filipino-Canadian Association of BC (UFCABC), Razon said he tried to link with Maria Facundo-Lilly, owner of the Vancouver-based Reliable Nanny and Caregiver Placement Agency, “in order to get suggestions on how to abide with the law.”

Razon said he wanted to explain this to Labor Attaché Margarita Eugenia Victorino but she reportedly threatened to file a case against him.

POLO has issued a “cease and desist” order for his company thus “my momentum (as an immigration consultant) to help the more than 150 Filipino workers has ran out,” he protested.

“I could lose my license as a consequence of this issue, but I want to emphasize that I  am only helping the Filipino workers and I have worked so hard to obtain my license,” Razon bewailed.

Reitred Consul General Jose Ampeso and former Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) vice president Amado Mercado Jr. are reportedly among the community leaders who “understand” Razon’s predicament and are trying to help fix his woes with the POLO.


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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in CRIME, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!


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Iloilo beaches and Coney Island

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”
–Jeanne Moreau

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Coney Island is located in the southernmost part of Brooklyn.
From midtown Manhattan, I traveled about 45 minutes taking the Q train to Stillwell Avenue last Sunday afternoon.
For a fare of $2.75, I can also reach Coney Island for about 60 minutes if I take the D, N or F train from Queens, where I stay.I observed that Philippines beaches are far better than Coney Island, a peninsular residential neighborhood beach in Brooklyn, in terms of the color of water and natural sand.
Water in Philippine beaches is more pristine and the sand is white and natural especially in Boracay in Aklan and in other areas in Guimaras and in Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo. 38837076_10212239626768726_2667665377944666112_o
On the contrary, sand in Coney Island no longer naturally deposits on the beach, thus it is replenished by the city government in regular beach nourishment projects using dredged sand.
The city government also groomed the public beaches on a regular basis.
When I faced the beach in south I  noticed there was no significant obstructions and was in sunlight all day until eight o’clock in the evening.


But unlike in the private beaches in southern and northern Iloilo where beach goers are charged for the use of cottages, the public beaches in Coney Island are open to all without restriction, and beach goers are not charged with any fee.
There are no cottages in Coney Island.
Coney Island’s beach area is divided into “bays”, areas of beach delineated by rock groynes, which moderate erosion and the force of ocean waves.
Meanwhile, there’s a sand beach at the west end of Coney Island at Sea Gate which is private and only accessible to residents.
There’s also a broad public sand beach that starts at Sea Gate at West 37th Street, through the central Coney Island area and Brighton Beach, to the beginning of the community of Manhattan Beach, a distance of approximately four kilometers.
The beach is continuous and is served for its entire length by the broad Riegelmann Boardwalk.
A number of amusements are directly accessible from the land-side of the boardwalk, as is the aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades.
There is a 1,300-foot long public beach further down in the community of Manhattan Beach.


Before going back to Queens, I dropped by at the world-famous Luna Park located across the beach and to watch several rides, I saw only in the movies, for a few hours.
There was an extreme thrill special feature, Coney Island Cyclone, the “Mother of American roller coaster culture” and the “Big Momma” of Coney Island, the Cyclone tops everyone’s list of things to do in New York City.
Another extreme thrills were Zenobio and Sling Shot, which I consider to be the most bizarre of all the rides I will never attempt to take.
There were also the high thrills: Coney Clipper, Astro Tower, and Steeplechase; moderate thrills: Circus Coaster, Coney Island Hang Glider, and Coney Island Sound; and the mild thrills for kids: Cozmo Jet, Speed Boat, and Mermaid Parade.

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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


My friends in Vancouver are still feuding

“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”

— Winston Churchill
IMG_5335 - Copy

HAPPIER TIMES. (L-R) Vice President Amado Mercado Jr., President and CEO Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendano Sr., Alex P. Vidal

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I only learned over the weekend that Tomas “Tatay Tom” Avendano, Sr., 89, was reelected as president of the Vancouver-based Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) in an election held on July 28, 2018 described by our media colleagues in Surrey and Vancouver as “tumultuous and chaotic”.
MHHS is the umbrella organization of all Filipino-Canadian associations in British Columbia.
I also learned that some of the characters I personally know who used to support Tatay Tom were among those who tried but failed to dethrone him.
Tatay Tom has been president and CEO of MHHS uninterrupted for 22 years.
He has described MHHS as his “twin” saying he would only relinquish the leadership in that office if he is dead.
Many of his friends and former MHHS buddies have turned their backs on him and openly lashed at his brand of leadership for a myriad of reasons.
Their disenchantment growing, some of them had plotted to oust him but through a legitimate proceeding, and their only chance was during the election on July 28.
There were a total of 322 voters.
There was no accurate report how many showed up and how many were able to cast their votes, but Tatay Tom reportedly got a “landslide” victory.
Tatay Tom’s tormentors reportedly protested the “fraud” that attended the election to no avail.


When I left Vancouver sometime in November 2012, I noticed that Tatay Tom’s imposing leadership in the MHHS was suffering from unwarranted cracks and starting to crumble.
So many personalities with different motives and valid advocacy were eyeing his throne; and they wanted him to yield the coveted positions and pave the way for other fresh faces to also lead and govern the beefy MHHS, a recipient of municipal, city and federal government funds that run to millions of Canadian dollars.
Tatay Tom, a Pasay City councilor for 12 years before he migrated to Canada in 1982, was unfazed. He refused to blink.
One of the first and biggest casualties in the MHHS power play when I was there was Vice President Amado Mercado Jr., an engineer from Minalin, Pampanga, who was fired by the MHHS board in a turbulent meeting I exclusively covered for the Philippine News Service (PNS), Global Balita, and my blogs:

Tears, word war, name-calling, charges of betrayal, shaming and emotional confrontation marred Mercado’s ouster who fought tongs and hammer trying to redeem his “sullied” reputation.
Mercado blamed Tatay Tom, his long-time buddy, who convinced him to attend the last board meeting he was present “only to be fed to the lions.”


I learned also that some of those who prepared the “surprise” near-midnight farewell or dispededa party for this writer in a Surrey pizza house in November 2012 were among those who had collaborated but failed to topple Tatay Tom in the recent election.

They may have legitimate reasons to oppose the grand old man of the Filipino-Canadian community in the British Columbia whom they accused of nepotism and suspected of trying to control and transform the MHHS into his fiefdom, among other issues.
Or they envy his power and authority as MHHS big boss?
MHHS assists newly arrived Filipino caregivers and displaced OFWs who can avail of board and lodging in the center for several days.

Filipino-Canadian friends had valid reasons to introduce me to Tatay Tom in one of my frequent trips there in 2008: Tatay Tom wanted to maintain a regular column in the Philippine Asian News Today published by our friend, Reynaldo “Rey” Fortaleza, who recommended me to “ghost write” for Tatay Tom for a modest sideline.
Without these friends, I wouldn’t be able to break bread and, for a while, earn the trust and confidence of the legendary community leader, who, at 89, is still in a fighting form and prepared to tackle all comers.
I learned that Tatay Tom “resented” the expose I made about the apparent lack of transparency in the construction of the MHHS annex building.
The City of Vancouver and the Federal Government of Canada reportedly chipped in $500,000 apiece for the entire MHHS building.
“Where’s the blue print of the project?” I inquired in an exclusive interview. “Where are the job orders?”
If Tatay Tom was slighted, I had no idea because I hadn’t talked to him until I left for Los Angeles.
I had no regrets with the expose I made.

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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in Uncategorized


Let’s harmonize our environment and economy

“Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”  –Evo Morales

To harmonize the environment and economy and create a win-win solution, we must do the following: 13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

1. Review all environment laws and policies; as well as all laws pertaining to economy. Come up with laws that balance human needs and nature.
2. Environment-friendly governance is necessary; hence, education must be the priority. All schools must prioritize the study of nature and moral values.
3. An energy transition is necessary. Harness and store the world’s vast supplies of wind, biomass and other forms of solar energy which are more abundant than oil. Solar cells, wind turbines and fuel cells can power factories, homes, automobiles and aircraft. Clean energy now!
4. A shift to organic farming; a shift away from excessive consumption of chemical products; and application of the precautionary principle to the chemical industry.
5. Stabilize population by improving the economic and social status of women; design cities in ways that reduce distances traveled between home and work, shopping and school; and in urban transit systems, shift emphasis from cars to public transportation, bicycling and walking.
6. Stop the rush to use genetically-modified organisms in agriculture.
7. Reduce the use of pesticides because public health is non-negotiable.
8. Reduce the use of harmful chemicals in the production process. For example, glucose is better than benzene; paper can be bleached without use of chlorine or chlorine-based compounds.
9. Blend ecology and economy and make the universal law of: if you love nature, nature will love back work.
10. Revamp the educational system from grade one to college. Make more values the main priority and love for nature will follow. Moral decay leads to nowhere.
11. Excessive logging, mining and fishing are an assault on the soul of the environment.
12. Save water and energy. Since oil is not a forever thing, come up with other sources of energy, like the sun, water, wind, etc.
13. Reduce air, water and land pollution. Enforce the solid waste management law. Garbage in open dumpsites emit methane gas; pollute the water and land. Recycling and reuse of materials preserve natural resources.
14. Protect the forest-dwelling and indigenous people. They are the caretakers of our forests and part of nature; whether you believe it or not.
15. Protect the forest by providing livelihood for kaingeros who make a living of cutting trees.
16. Bamboo is the savior of our environment. The national and local government should cultivate bamboo. It is a substitute for timber and mild steel. It grows anywhere and fast. It provides food and shelter.
17. On a personal note, buy only what you need. Over consumption weighs on natural resources.
18. Slow down on building shopping malls. Besides increasing air pollution and consumption of energy, they displace small retailers and entrepreneurs and cause poverty (besides pollution). We already have an over-abundance of shopping malls.
19. Slow down on building of golf courses. They consume gallons of water daily and pollute the land with chemical fertilizers.
20. Destruction of corals which they use for markers.
Give nature a breather. Live a healthy, happy life by just harmonizing the environment with economy. Money is necessary. But what good is money if you are dead? That’s what Mahatma Gandhi said.

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Posted by on July 29, 2018 in Uncategorized


Can they read the congressman’s mind?

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.”
–Stephen Covey

By Alex P. Vidal13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — Some people have this naughty suspicion that because Iloilo first district Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. has declared that the Garin clan “is still not committed” in the gubernatorial contest in May 2019, the unpredictable family is “cooking up something.”
They theorize that one of the Garins “might also be interested to run” or the family is only trying to make pakipot and will continue to keep its cards hidden in its sleeves until the eleventh hour.
They also misinterpreted Rep. Garin’s actuation after seeing him on several occasions worming his way closer to President Rodrigo R. Duterte every time there was an opportunity.
Like in the recent SONA where Rep. Garin was caught in the camera smiling from ear to ear as he slowly approached and slightly tried to touch the president as the latter was shaking the hands of legislators while moving outside the Batasang Pambansa.
These doubting Thomases have probably forgotten that Rep. Garin’s wife, former health secretary Janette, is now in trouble because of the Dengvaxia mess.
Which is more important? To secure the graces of the president in order to win an important elective post in 2019, or to see your wife completely unburdened from any criminal liability? Think.


The most senior member of the Iloilo City Council, Atty. Eduardo “Ed” Peñaredondo, should have all the right to run for city mayor in May 2019.
Peñaredondo is even more senior than the feuding Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and lone district Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, although they are both his long-time buddies in the City Council.
Some Ilonggos believe that if the relationship between Espinosa and Treñas will remain frosty before Christmas, it’s better to pick another guy and abscond the two leading bets.
The problem is Peñaredondo, a very credible and highly competent leader, has not shown any interest for the top city hall job.
And even if he is interested, nobody from among his peers in the City Council is apparently ready to take him seriously as a potential mayoral contender, at least not yet.


We believe though that most of his peers would be willing to endorse him if they weren’t ashamed to both Espinosa and Treñas.
And if they will rally behind Peñaredondo in unison, both Espinosa and Treñas will understand and won’t take it personally against them.
They city mayor and the congressman are not stony and insensitive.
They are aware that because of their unnecessary and useless altercation, their buddies in the City Council are awfully confused, affected and hurting.
Members of the City Council, including Peñaredondo, are actually in a quandary ever since the relationship between Espinosa and Treñas deteriorated and eventually nosedived.
They are torn between two lovers.
They have no reason to eschew neither Espinosa nor Treñas who have been and are still part of their political lives.


Both gentlemen are actually special to them as they used to belong in one political family.
Their predicament is similar to children watching their parents argue but they can’t take sides because both father and mother are dear to them.
As a result of the misunderstanding between the city’s two highest officials, the city councilors are adamant to say or do something in as far as political issues in the city are concerned for fear they will be misinterpreted by both camps.
Even the department heads and some village officials–punong barangay and their councilors–are in the same dilemma.
They both love Espinosa and Treñas (in the first place, they weren’t enemies but allies aside from being mag bilas from the start of their political careers) but they need to choose and elect only one city mayor.

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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in Uncategorized


After Iloilo’s hablon, Kalibo’s piña-seda invades New York

“Biennial culture is already almost irrelevant, because so many more people are providing so many better opportunities for artists to exhibit their work.”
–Jerry Saltz

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY –– More than a month after Iloilo exhibitors introduced hablon, the weaving of fabric using locally made fibers such as piña, abaca and cotton in an exhibit at the Philippine Center here, weavers from Kalibo, Aklan and embroiderers from Lumban Laguna introduced piña-seda (pineapple and silk cloths from the tropics) or Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Traveling Exhibition in the same venue.
The exhibition, jointly spearheaded by the National Museum of the Philippines (Pambansang Museo) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, started on July 24 until September 7, 2018.37869152_10212146949611855_2621790875205763072_n
Dr. Ana Maria Theresa Labrador, National Museum of the Philippines assistant director, said they launched the US exhibition in Washington D.C. from June 11 until July 16, 2018.
The piña-seda exhibition will continue at the Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii’s Manoa in Honolulu on September 17 until November 17, 2018.
“Our primary goal is to promote common fibers handwoven and turn into textiles like bark, bast, cotton, abaca, and pineapple,” Labrador explained ina speech July 24.
They are also studying looms and weaving technologies, added Labrador stressing that they do weaving demonstrations and embroidery workshops during the exhibition period at the same time.
Rose Arances, Legarda’s chief political affairs and project officer, emphasized that “traditional textiles are ties that bind. It links the past to the present and brings together cultures, which, no matter how diverse, has a commonality.”
Reading Legarda’s speech, Arances said, “traditional textiles bring together industries, communities, and people. A fabric or a garment is a synergy among workers and artisans. It is a product of diligence, hard work, and passion.”


Several hands are needed to make one fabric alone.
For piña, if the farmer is also the reaper, and the weaver is also the warper and loom dresser, it will take at least 4 people, including the designer and sewer, to bring piña to fabric, Arances stressed.
For the silk, at least 8-9 people are needed from farmer to fabric, if all are within the same general location.
For piña-seda, that would be 12 people to produce the fabric, plus 3 for embroidery including transport, and 2 for designer and sewer. This means that a handwoven piña-seda blouse with embroidery would entail at least 17 people to complete.
According to the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), there are currently 1,277 weavers in the Philippines and 494 groups involved in the handweaving sector.
Arances added: “Imagine how many more families and communities we can support if we continue to promote traditional textiles.”
Pineapple fiber is considered to be more delicate in texture than any other vegetable fiber. It is extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant, particularly the Red Spanish variety, which has leaves that yield excellent fibers for handweaving.37852119_10212146948691832_8863112739866804224_n
The pineapple plant is not indigenous to the Philippines. It is believed that the Spaniards brought the plant to our shores. The beginning of pineapple cultivation in the Philippines also marked the start of the craft of piña cloth weaving in the country.
Handwoven piña cloth with intricate embroidery was greatly prized then. In the 1860s, many European royalties received gifts of piña cloth originating from the Philippines from loyal subjects to commemorate momentous occasions.
However, the eventual influx of cheaper and imported machine-woven fabrics and the foreign influence on Philippine fashion resulted in the decline of the piña cloth production, which is a laborious and time-consuming method.


In a bid to revive the industry, government and private sectors implemented the Pilot Production of Piña Fiber and Cloth in the Province of Aklan in 1989.
Aklan has been known as the center of piña fiber and cloth production since the Red Spanish variety is mainly found in the Panay Island. But there were also efforts to propagate piña fiber and cloth production in other provinces such as in Antique, Guimaras, Capiz, Palawan, Negros Oriental and La Union.
However, production in Capiz, Negros Oriental and La Union ceased for various reasons. But it has made considerable progress in Palawan.
In terms of decorticated piña fiber, production is mainly in Camarines Norte and very limited quantities in Cavite and Rizal.
Based on 2014 statistics, there are 2,086 hectares of pineapple farms in Camarines Norte, 67 hectares in Palawan, 21 hectares in Aklan and 3 hectares in Antique, which are sources of piña fiber. These farms employ 1,370 farmers.
When piña-seda weaving was introduced in Aklan in 1998, customers reportedly preferred this over pure piña since piña-seda is cheaper but its beauty and texture is also at par with pure piña.
The shift to piña-seda from pure piña was reportedly caused by difficulties in the supply of Red Spanish pineapple leaves, likely due to the shortage of knotters.
Piña-seda or pineapple-silk is a handwoven fabric made from hand-scraped piña fiber blended with silk to produce different texture and design.
Aside from being lightweight, the combined property of pineapple and silk makes the fabric not too stiff compared to pure pineapple, and has more body compared to pure silk. It is stronger than pure pineapple but three times cheaper; and easier to weave due to the strength of silk.


In terms of silk production, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) spearheads the development of the silk industry, with the joint cooperation of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), the Sericulture Research and Development Institute (SRDI) of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), the University of the Philippines at Los Ban~os (UPLB) and other state universities and colleges (SUCs).
The silk industry is characterized by various activities such as silkworm egg production, cocoon production, reeling operation, weaving and made-up goods manufacturing.
Mulberry farming is important to silk production because silkworms feed solely on mulberry leaves.
Majority of these farms are located in Western Visayas, particularly in Negros Occidental. Meanwhile, cocoon-producing provinces are Negros Occidental, La Union, Benguet, Ilocos Sur and Abra.
This industry could actually provide livelihood to many communities, but there has been a noted decrease in silk production in the Philippines.
Production of dried cocoons went down from 9,000 kilos in 2003 to 3,000 kilos in 2012; there were only 150 hectares of mulberry plantation areas in 2014, compared to 300 hectares in 2005; and production of raw silk went down from 1,500 kilos in 2005 to 800 kilos in 2014.
In the past decade, the Philippines has been exporting an average of 25,000 square meters of silk fabric. But the last time it exported raw silk was in 2013-10 kilograms of raw silk to Luxembourg.
There is reportedly a huge gap between demand and production of raw silk in the country. The PhilFIDA estimates about 10 metric tons demand for raw silk in the country annually against production in 2015 at 0.425 metric tons. Which is why we have to import an average of 13,227 kilograms of raw silk, 12,300 kilograms of silk yarn and 1.119 million square meters of silk fabrics annually.
Due to the limited supply of raw silk, supply of piña-seda fabric also went down in the past decade from 57,804 meters in 2007 to 17,690 meters in 2016.


Among the challenges in the production of piña-seda textiles are the limited supply of silk as well as supply or manufacturer of knotted pineapple fiber, and less number of weavers.
In particular for silk production, the PTRI notes that there is low confidence in the profitability of sericulture and the lack of integration of the supply and value chain. Another concern is the lack of water during extreme heat or periods of drought.
In terms of piña fiber, the tedious process of hand-scraping the fiber has led to limited production. The irregular demand for piña cloth products due to its being a high-priced fabric, is also a challenge in promoting its use.

Lack of capital to purchase raw materials, looms, and other tools and lack of training on weaving and product development are the other constraints.
But the local textile industry is continuously evolving and these challenges only encourage innovativeness among industry stakeholders.
The Sericulture Research and Development Institute in Bacnotan, La Union has established 44 sericulture technology-demonstration (techno-demo) farms in eight provinces-La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Rizal, Zambales, Bulacan, Tanay and Batangas. A component of the program is the Mulberry Research and Development, which has helped boost the production of heavy leaf-yielding mulberry trees.


For piña fiber, there was a decline by 27.1% in production in 2016. From 7.95 metric tons in 2015, piña fiber production in 2016 was at 5.79 metric tons.
In a bid to increase production of pineapple fiber, the Department of Agriculture (DA) through PhilFIDA has provided agricultural machineries to farmer cooperatives from different regions in the country that maintain large areas of pineapple plantation, especially in Mindanao.
The machineries include multi-fiber decorticating machines with safety mechanism which are used to extract fibers from waste pineapples leaves left in the field after harvest; mechanical drier to dry the fibers during rainy season; and baling machine to prepare clean, inspected and graded pineapple fibers ready to be traded to intended buyers.
To ensure the sustainability of the local textile industry, there is a need for convergence among the agencies of government involved-from the production of raw materials, to trainings and workshops, provision of equipment and materials, product development and promotion program, and a systematic marketing system.
The PhilFIDA has programs for the development and adoption of technologies on the utilization of plant fibers and improvement of postharvest technologies on fiber extraction. It also establishes processing facilities and conducts product development.
The PTRI provides technical training to weaving associations, particularly on basic and advanced handloom weaving, natural dyeing, provision of weave designs and response to technical services and short-term contract researches. It has also identified areas in the Philippines as natural dye production hubs and natural dye satellite centers to be able to respond to the immediate needs of the weaving communities.
The DA can help in propagating pineapple and mulberry plantations to ensure steady supply of piña and silk fibers. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) can help promote these local fabrics through trade fairs to showcase our products both locally and abroad.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can conduct skills training for weavers and embroiderers. Local government units must also support in creating a nurturing environment where the traditional textile industry can flourish.
As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, which reviews the Philippine government’s proposed national budget, Legarda ensures that these programs are funded, Arances said.


The Hibla Travelling Exhibition is one way of showcasing these traditional textiles in the hope of further promoting the industry. The National Museum of the Philippines has always been a staunch partner in this endeavor, emphasized Arances.
The two main agencies that support our weavers and textile industry-PhilFIDA and PTRI have budgets worth P358.457 million and P79.820 million, respectively. For 2018, which is still under review, PhilFIDA has a proposed budget of P431.490 million; while PTRI’s proposed budget is P83.237.
Legarda plans to reassess these funds and see if there are areas that still need to be covered, such as support for the pineapple and mulberry farms, according to Arances.
Over the years, Arances said Legarda’s office has provided support for programs that will help farmers, weavers and local textile manufacturers through additional funding in the national budget-such as the development of silk at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in Bacnotan, La Union; establishment of weaving and processing centers through PhilFIDA; provision of technical assistance for the textile industry, the establishment of natural dye centers, and the conduct of natural dye and weaving seminars and workshops; production support services including cotton development and establishment of cotton processing center, among many others.
Arances continued: “Under the PTRI, there is a Textile Science and Technology Services Program for the testing of raw materials and allied products and the provision of technical assistance to the textile, garments, and allied industries on textile processing and machinery utilization; as well as a Textile Technology Transfer Program for the dissemination of textile information and provision of documentation of services to textile millers and allied industries.”
“Under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), we provide assistance to artisans, including weavers, through the provision of looms, threads, and other materials for weaving,” she added.
The Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which Legarda authored during her first term as senator, reportedly intends to promote Philippine natural fabrics through the use of such materials for the official uniforms of government officials and employees, and in the process, support the local fiber industry.
It stipulates the wearing of Philippine Tropical Fabrics with 5 percent fiber content of abaca, banana, pineapple and 15 percent silk.
Arances said, “the strengthening of the local tropical fabrics industry is attuned to our advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving our rich heritage. It will also provide jobs especially for those in the countryside. Furthermore, it unlocks the creativity of Filipinos, which is overflowing.”
The Philippine piña-seda textile has great potential in the world market, according to Arances saying Legarda plans to “make it prized items even here in the United States as it has been in the past centuries because the quality of our handwoven fabrics with intricate embroidery is truly world-class.”
Through the Hibla Travelling Exhibition, they reportedly aim to do just that.





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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in Uncategorized