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Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro wears her advocacy especially during proud moments when the close-knit science community stirs up from its undeserved staid reputation. Alabastro was sunny in a silk gown topped with plaid, hand-woven silk bolero dyed with talisay leaves and young coconut husk at the recent National Science and Technology Week opening rites held at the Manila Hotel.


The outfit's fabric was hand-woven from breeds of Philippine silkworm varieties. Silk throwing or plying and twisting along with dye extraction were also done using technologies developed by experts at DOST's Philippine Textile Research Institute. Dyes extracted from talisay leaves were used for the black warp and weft, and young coconut husk for the pink weft.

PTRI developed the fabrics jointly with De La Cruz House of Pina, and New York-based designer Anthony Cruz Legarda. JC Sasoy, a runner up at the Young Designers' Competition held early this year, designed the outfit.

Saluyot fiber

Meanwhile, PTRI experts developed new sets of earth-friendly, fiber-blended yarns from polyester and stems of saluyot (Corchorus olitorius), a rich source of natural fiber.

PTRI Director Carlos C. Tomboc said this development is part of the agency's focus on studying non-traditional tropical fiber sources such as maguey (Agave cantala Roxb.), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and saluyot. These non-traditional tropical fiber sources can expand established domestic sources that PTRI previously studied extensively such as abaca (Musa textiles Nee), anabo (Abroma augusta Linn.), banana (Musa sapientum), kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.), pineapple (Ananas comosus Linn.), and ramie (Boehmeria nivea L.).

PTRI is pushing for the use of fiber-rich plants in domestic textile production and trim the industry's import of synthetic-based fibers. PTRI's research trials how that when soaked in water for 21 to 24 days, saluyot stems could yield at least 5 percent fibers. Spinning treated saluyot fibers with polyester produce 80/20, 70/30, and 60/40 polyester/saluyot with yarn counts of 25-29 Ne which, when woven, can produce fine, smooth, and blemish-free fabrics.

Saluyot and polyester blend fabrics can also be made into home textiles such as curtains/drapes, beddings, table runners, and linens as well as raw material for nets, ropes, and other farm gears. In some countries, saluyot fabric is used as geotextile to prevent soil erosion and landslides.

PTRI pursues research trials in spinning saluyot fiber with cotton to raise the all-natural fiber component in producing saluyot fabric or burlap. PTRI researchers will perform tests to determine the ability of the fabric to resist deformation, and the textile surface to resist wear by friction.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2009 as the International Year of Natural Fibres and picked saluyot as one of the world's 15 major natural fibers. PTRI regards this important development as confirmation of saluyot fiber's valuable potential in apparel, home, industrial, and geotextile applications.

Techno demo to dye forPTRI also showcased technologies in developing saluyot, maguey, and water hyacinth fibers into textiles, and natural dye printing from malatayum plants and mahogany trees at the SM City Bicutan event center as part of the NSTW celebration last July 20-24. Shoppers and mall rats sat in during lecture on the basics of tie-dye, a technique for decorating fabrics by folding, binding or tying, and soaking the fabric in dye solution. Participants include residents of barangays [villages] Western Bicutan, Tanyag, and Maharlika of Taguig City as well as students from Central Luzon State University undergoing on-the-job training at PTRI.

Textile art and science
Visually challenged passersby touched and pored over the smart office and casual wear made from blends of saluyot/polyester and pi?a/polyester fabrics on display at the PTRI booth as part of the weeklong technology fair also held at SM City Bicutan. ?

(AObmerga\DOST IV-A S&T Media Service)