Many health conscious people love to have Pineapple as their favorite dessert. It's because of many health benefits of the delicious fruit. It protects from a simple flu as well as fights off free radicals that cause cancer. It cleans the internal system to keep our body healthy through fibers that help in proper digestion. That's not all, it's not the only kind of fiber that a pineapple carries. Pineapple leaves are used to obtain Piña, a textile fiber that is used to make fabrics. As such, we are able not only to keep our internal system clean but also to achieve an outer elegant appearance!
Great efforts were made for the revival of this age old tradition and for re-establishing the pina trade. It started with marketing of pina barong (embroidered traditional garment of Philippines) locally which eventually got popular with the elite. Traditional pina weaving has survived inspite of all odds and production has since begun to flourish. Now once again, pina fiber is globally popular and Piña cloth from the Philippines are being exported to various parts of the world, particularly to North America and Europe.
After extraction and subsequent drying in the open air, the fibers are waxed to remove any entanglements and then they are knotted and bind into yarns for weaving into fabric. The fibers are hand spun into ivory-white colored and naturally glossy fabric. As the fiber is fine and breaks easily, working with piña is really slow and tedious. One can see the workers constantly knotting the broken threads. However, all these efforts go to produce lightweight, soft, shinning, transparent and somewhat stiff fabric that can be termed as a royal exotic fabric. Sometimes, pina is used to make blended fabrics by combining it with silk fiber or polyester fiber. The resultant fabric is lightweight, easy to care for and has an elegant appearance similar to linen fabrics. Pineapple silk is, in fact, considered the queen of Philippine fabrics.
The pina fabric is decorated by a traditional style of hand embroidery called calado. An embroidered piña garment is known as piña calado. These handwoven fabrics are dyed with vegetable dyes obtained from leaves and bark of various trees. Pina fiber is often blended with cotton, abaca, and silk to make amazing light and breezy fabrics. When woven with silk, it is known as pina seda or pina-silk. Pina jusi is a blend of abaca or silk for strength and sheerness and is less expensive than 100% pina.
As the making process of piña fabric is tedious, time consuming and labor intensive, it becomes quiet expensive. However, when worn, one can feel the luxury of this exotic fabric and then its price becomes immaterial. In fact, a garment of piña fabric is categorized as an heirloom garment.