Addressing Poverty in the Philippines through Textile Design and Development
Reviving the Philippines’ textile industry by encouraging the production of local fabrics is a bold plan to tackle poverty by an Endeavour Award Holder studying in Melbourne.
Mary Joanne Lesaca, an art major from Quezon City, Philippines, is studying Textile Design and Development at RMIT through the Endeavour Awards, a scholarship program funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) which brings international citizens to Australia to undertake study, research and professional development.
Mary (pictured) says her Endeavour Award will equip her with the necessary skills to allow her to pursue her dream of creating a model ‘Textile Park’ in the Philippines, which will create job opportunities for local people while also steering the textile industry towards environmentally sustainable production.
“It (the Textile Park concept) is set out to achieve a more sustainable form of producing textiles,” Mary explains.
“Designs will reflect the current trends while improving the living conditions of textile artisans and the generation of small and medium enterprises (SME’s), through cost-efficient production.
“This will uplift the local retail industry, allowing it to re-educate consumers and designers alike regarding locally-made fabrics.
“A revived textile industry means more jobs generated and with more jobs, more people will be involved, and with more people involved—new technology will be developed.”
Mary says that currently many Filipino fabrics are housed in laboratories and museums while the retail industry is dominated by imported fabrics.
“Textile manufacturing and garment production which has lost its significance over the years is close to non-existent and designers are just thoroughly Westernised,” she says.
Mary’s concept came about after graduating from college and entering the marketing industry, during which time she questioned how art and design could alleviate poverty in the Philippines.
“It was hard to sit in an air-conditioned cubicle and pretend that poverty is non-existent, that every day it is affecting countless lives and that every single day is an opportunity to turn things around if I just gave it my time,” Mary says.
“What better way than to revive the textile industry of the Philippines, by making production more cost-efficient, systematic and sustainable.”
Once Mary completes her three-year VET Award she hopes to engage with industry and business associations back in the Philippines to make her Textile Park concept a reality.
The Endeavour Awards is the Australian Government’s internationally competitive, merit-based scholarship program providing opportunities for citizens of the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia. Awards are also available for Australians to do the same abroad.