The Workers in Wood Furniture Industry of Isabela
A Sector Profile
MELODY E. LIM
The wood furniture processing industry is by far the most prevalent manufacturing activity in Region 02 in terms of number of firms operating. This is explained by the fact that the region is one of the few regions in the country with the biggest forest area consisting of 1.72 million hectares, 91.27% of which are classified as public forest.
From the seventies up to the eighties, commercial logging operation was at its peak which in turn fast tracked the denudation of the forest resources and subsequently resulted to the banning of commercial logging in the region as a whole. Logically, as a result of this, big-time wood processing plants particularly sawmill and plywood plants also closed – shop. What was left of the wood processing industry were the small-time furniture manufacturing plants scattered all over the region.
The subsequent government actions from selective to total ban greatly affected the development of the industry. In 1997-1998, the effect of this posture was most evident as not only was there a sharp decrease in the number of firms setting up but also, there was virtual stagnation and even shops closing. That situation persisted and still continues to persist until the present time. On the mean end of everything, what were significantly affected of this downward scenario are the wood workers whose means of living wholly depends on the wood industry. As of 2000, DTI-R02 reported that 2,703 household families in the region sourced their income from the wood furniture industry.
Despite all these developments, the Regional Development Council (RDC II) and DTI for that matter continue to pin its hopes on the wood furniture industry for much needed industrial output and job generation in the region because of the belief that this industry has a strong comparative advantage in terms of the region’s resource endowments to back up its full development.
II. The Wooden Furniture Industry: An Overview
√ Industry Background
Furniture production in the Philippines was pioneered by rattan pole and wicker exports suppliers of the 1960s, who ventured forward into producing rattan furniture parts and later established facilities for making rattan furniture in the 1970s. Building on the successes of these items, manufacturers in 1980’s invested heavily in improving their product design and development, boosting the competitiveness of local furniture in the global market. When Indonesia banned the exports of rattan poles to global clients in 1986, local furniture manufacturers and designers were spurred to explore both indigenous and imported materials. This eventually led to the development of various products from wood, metal, indigenous materials and mixed media furniture using natural materials.
√ Product Coverage
The Philippine furniture industry offers a diverse range of products which vary according to function, material, size and utility. Home furniture is the most popular functional category among manufacturers. This product line includes dining, kitchen, living room, bedroom, patio, den, home entertainment centers, home offices, garden/outdoor furniture, among others. Most furniture items products may also be classified as leg items such as beds, tables and chairs; case goods including cabinets and chests of drawers or building and home fittings. Many firms produce furniture for institutional clients such as hotels, resorts, restaurants and offices. Some also provide products for retailers such as shelves, accessories for display windows, and other visual merchandising equipments.
Local furniture is made from variety of materials. Wood is the most common material utilized in the industry as wooden furniture makes up around half of total Philippine furniture exports. Other materials include metal or...
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