Water lilies grow almost everywhere. Although, it is a welcome scene for many, the abundance of waterlilies had been posing a problem to the river ecosystem of the areas where they grow. They block waterways and kill aquatic life in rivers and lakes. Coupled with this problem there had been other issues before the Philippines government to tackle with, such as sliding textile industry owing to stiff competition from China, cheaper fabrics from other countries, imported raw materials, local labor unrest, higher production costs etc. All these led the government to come up with this novel solution in the form of water lily fibers that preserve the ecosystem as well as provide a viable source of income to the local residents.
The Water lily weaving center was launched way back in October 1995 that provided training for basket weaving and also marketed the finished products. However the textile fiber from water lily was unveiled by PTRI this year, along with saluyot and maguey fibers, at the International Year of Natural Fibers launching on January 22 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
According to Nora Mangalindan, the head of research and development at the PTRI, “Substituting just a fourth of imported textile with local tropical fabrics means foreign exchange savings of US$156.72 million. The world textile industry has been devoid of new natural textiles for quite some time now and it is a great opportunity for tropical fibers coming from the Philippines.”
Fibers from water lilies make good home textile like curtains, upholstery, table runners, table napkins and handicrafts.