Talahib is income-earner for Isabela villagers
By Villamor Visaya Jr.
Northern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 09:44pm (Mla time) 09/02/2007
JONES, Isabela–Talahib (cogon), a weed that grows abundantly in this interior town but largely ignored by residents, is providing livelihood to weavers in 42 villages here.
Jovito Uy Sr., former municipal planning and development coordinator here, says the project, which uses talahib in handicraft making, earned the town a Galing Pook Award in 1997 for tapping indigenous resources to augment livelihood opportunities in the rural areas.
Uy, who heads an association of village-based weavers formed in 1992, says his group started with a P100,000 capital from the Jones government to finance the group’s participation in trade fairs and delivery and marketing of products.
Among the items marketed by Jones Integrated Handicraft Products are trays, utility baskets and boxes, place mats, wall decors, candleholders, lampshades, multipurpose racks, blinds, hot pads and other household items made from woven talahib stalks.
Uy says the group’s products have reached specialty markets in Japan, the United States and parts of Europe, where the demand for indigenous items is high.
Councilor Rodrigo Manuel says that before the project was launched, farmers and residents burned the talahib as they considered these a nuisance to their farms.
Today, the group has aligned itself with the Cagayan Valley Gifts, Toys and Houseware Association to more aggressively market its products.
Delia Rumbaoa, a weaver, says each worker can earn as much as P5,000 a month from handicraft making.
She says this is enough to augment their income from seasonal farming.
Uy says his group sells the products in local outlets at affordable prices.
A piece of wall decor, candleholder or a candy basket sells for P150 each while a lampshade fetches P700. Other items are within the P150 to P400 range.
Mayor Florante Raspado says the local government has been subsidizing the project to encourage villagers to improve their craft and create alternative jobs in farming villages.
“This project has helped Jones villagers avoid vices. They are more productive now,” Raspado says.
Jones, he adds, is blessed with raw materials like cogon and bamboo that can be used by residents to boost their income.
He says many residents are lured into the business as they practically spend nothing for talahib stalks, except when these are gathered from private lands where they have to pay a minimal fee.
“These materials help residents develop their ingenuity and self-reliance,” Raspado says.
The handicraft makers also get ample technical and training support from the Technical Education, Skills and Development Authority, and the Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology.
“The workers would ensure that the items are carefully done. Quality control team members see to it that the items are free from defects so that these will not be returned by sub-contractors or sales agents,” says Ariel Nera, a member of the association.
Ben Lazaro, a group leader in charge of overseeing production, says the group has learned its lesson from its early days when the first sets of products were returned due to poor quality.
He says that since then, the group has tried to learn more and perfect their craft through support and training from government agencies.
The group’s officials have also sought marketing partners in Metro Manila who now order P160,000 worth of products a month.
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