ILIGAN CITY (PIA)–Making handicrafts from abaca fiber is something that requires all handwork. It takes time to finish a product that is creatively made.

But now, women are doing well in the handmade industry and showing off beautiful designs and new ideas.

The Barangay Pala-O-based Pabahandi Women’s Association is one of the 10 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) run by women that took part in the trade fair held March 3–7 at the Robinsons Place atrium by the Iligan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Incorporation (ICCIFI).

Since 2010, the women’s association has used abaca fiber to make things like bags, leis, wallets, and other things.

Adelaida Rico from the Pabahandi Women’s Association is glad to have the chance to show off their goods. From March 3–7, they earned P10,000 from the trade fair.

“Sa mga kababaihan dinhi sa Iligan City, ug unsa may livelihood nga inyong gihimo karon, padayon lang gyud. Busa hinay-hinay mu-income ra gyud ang mga kababaihan alang tabang sa atong laing-laing pamilya,” said Rico.

(To the women here in Iligan City, whatever livelihood you are pursuing now, just keep going. You will slowly earn income to help your families)

Fostering Maranao culture

Sohaila Pacalna of Marawi Souvenir Shop is proud to sell Maranao products that carry the stories of their vibrant culture and identity. She said that they continued the legacy of their ancestors to preserve their traditions and culture.

They sell baur (hand carved chests with okir motifs), brass jars, drums, gongs, tapestries, and landap (tubular woven cloth) with langkit designs, among others.

Pacalna thanked ICCIFI for inviting them again to sell their products. They sold P30,000 worth of products during the five-day trade fair.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila dahil kahit papaano na popromote ang aking product lalong-lalo na itong product namin sa Tugaya na pinaghirapan namin dahil hindi naming ito matitigil kasi ayaw naming mawala ang signatura naming pagka-Maranao,” she said.

(I am grateful to them because my products are showcased, especially this product of ours in Tugaya that we worked hard for since we cannot stop it because we do not want to lose our Maranao signature.)

Pacalna said she is willing to teach her fellow women how to produce such products. She said that their business has helped empower the women in their communities as it provides livelihood opportunities for them.

Women’s determination and resiliency

Reggie Punongbayan, the president of ICCIFI, praised the women entrepreneurs who kept their businesses going despite the problems caused by the pandemic for their determination, hard work, and strength. She also encouraged them not to give up since failure is a stepping stone to success.

“Kung kinsa gusto magstart ug business, dili jud mu-give up. Kining failure muhatag sa success. Because of failures, makalearn ta ug makahatag sa success sa atoa,” she said.

(Whoever wants to start a business must not give up. Failure will lead to success. Because of our failures, we can learn something that will help us attain success)

Punongbayan also highlighted the importance of partnerships and collaborations. She also reiterated their commitment to supporting MSMEs.

Handicrafts made by women show not only creativity but also grit and persistence because they are made from real materials. Truly, women’s empowerment is thriving, and their success stories prove that they can make a difference through crafts. (LELA/PIA-10/Lanao del Norte)

By Lou Ellen L. Antonio