Why replace our very own abaca with polymer?

Abaca fiber in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur. Photo by MarvinBikolano/Creative Commons

Maribel Ongpin, chair of Habi, the Philippine Textile Council (PTC), wants Filipinos to refuse to accept  the new Philippine peso bills made from the synthetic polymer.

            The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is gradually replacing the country’s old abaca-made paper money with ones made of polymer. The transition has actually not been smooth so far. Many people say the new bill is cumbersome, as it cannot be folded, and is adversely affected when left exposed to heat from the sun and high temperatures.

            Ongpin, whose Habi has been campaigning to mainstream traditional fabrics and weaves, wonders why a government agency like the BSP would drop an indigenous product in favor of an artificial material.

            “Abaca is a premier (natural) fiber. It is one of the strongest, most resilient fabrics in the world,” she points out. Even just as a matter of patriotism, the BSP, she says, should promote the natural fiber.

            “(We) should stand up for our local products,” Ongpin says, and encourages Filipinos not to accept the polymer-made peso bills.

            Incidentally, the PTC is staging the 12th Likhang Habi Market Fair on Oct. 14-16 at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City.

            More than 60 vendors will offer hand-made fabrics, ready-to-wear clothes, personal and home accessories, etc. made of local weaves and other indigenous natural materials.  The exhibition will feature, among other things, local silk, piña (the pineapple-based material), hablon, abel, ikat, abaca, etc.

            The fair, now on its 12th year, will be the first face-to-face restaging of the annual event since 2020 when lockdowns and quarantines were ordered by the government because of the corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

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