Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In the early ‘90s, the garment and textile sector in the Philippines was once considered to be one of the top-performing industries in the country. At that time, the country was under the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA), an agreement that limits imports into countries, particularly developing countries.
However, the MFA was abolished in 1995, and when the quotas ended, many countries opted to trade with those that can produce massive volumes of textiles or products at a lower cost. The Philippines suffered greatly because of its relatively higher cost of labor.
The Philippine Research and Textile Institute has initiated programs that can help save the textile industry, but the cheaper cost of importing textiles from outside the Philippines is a reality that the country also needs to contend with. Most of these cheaper textiles, largely imported from China and India, can be seen in Ylaya St. in Divisoria.
Take a look at some of the textiles and textile shops in the area:
The textile stalls inside a building by Ylaya St. feature seamstresses who take on basic sewing jobs that turn some textiles into bed sheets, pillowcases, and other home products. Photo by JL JAVIER
Many stalls specialize in a specific type of textile. In this store, they mostly sell cashmere, wool, and linen textiles used for suits. Photo by JL JAVIER
Kevin Endab works at another stall in Ylaya that only sells lace. He says that the colors beige and off-white, those used for wedding gowns, sell the most. Photo by JL JAVIER
Endab and other workers at their store call the lace “chantelace,” which may have been derived from the famous French lace fabric, “Chantilly lace.” Photo by JL JAVIER
Nene Rufino works at this store that offers printed textiles. She says that most of the buyers are those who come from Quezon City and Pampanga, who then turn the fabrics into bed sheets and pillow cases. Photo by JL JAVIER
All of the shops usually present swatches of textiles to potential buyers. This allows the buyer to feel and touch the textile as well as compare the colors more easily. Photo by JL JAVIER
This store only sells printed cotton fabrics, akin to indigenous textiles. They import these from China and have both rolls of these textiles as well as pre-cut ones that are sold as malongs. Photo by JL JAVIER
A common print that is also present in Ylaya is the camouflage cotton textile. One yard costs ₱180 and are usually bought by subcontractors who turn them into military garbs. Photo by JL JAVIER
This store is one of the biggest in Ylaya and features textiles (from checkered polyester to plain gina cloths) that are used for school uniforms. Photo by JL JAVIER
For most stores, deliveries of the textiles come once a month. Photo by JL JAVIER
Outside the textile shops are a myriad stalls and bangketas. Photo by JL JAVIER
Besides the textiles, lining Ylaya St. are stalls selling fresh vegetables, meat, rice, and fruits, among many others. Photo by JL JAVIER