The Buri Crafters Association of Bolinao, an all-women group organized by a common goal, religiously weaves buri bags every day to help their husbands augment their families’ daily needs. “Masaya ang aming mga asawa dahil kahit papaano ay nakakatulong kami sa mga gastusin sa bahay. Dati ay umaasa lang kami sa kita nila (Our husbands are happy that we supplement their income. We only depend on their income before),” said Ermelita R. Caasi, the Association President.

The 50 members used to do the business individually prior to the intervention of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 through its Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K) scheme in 2015. The Association was able to avail PhP70,000.00 from the BUB GAA 2014 fund of the DSWD FO 1.

Although most of their materials are bought in the market, their barangay is blessed to have Buri plants growing wild in their backyards. Responsible livelihood it is, the members only collect and process the Buri leaves into buri strips once they reach their maturity (when the tree is at least 8 meters high).

The bags are meticulously hand-woven by these housewives to ensure uniqueness and durability. With an established market, these are sold in retail at the local market, and in bulk at Divisoria in Manila. Not only that they are earning, the Association members contribute to the preservation of traditional weaving practice in the Ilocos Region.

Each member can earn a net income of PhP200.00 to PhP1,000.00 weekly depending on the number of bags produced. “Hindi ko kailangang mamili sa pagiging housewife o paghahabi kasi kaya ko namang pagsabayin (I don’t need to choose between being a housewife and a sewer. It is convenient that I can do both at the same time),” said Margie G. Casta, the Association Secretary. “Minsan naghahabi ako habang hinihintay kong maluto yung kanin (Sometimes, I weave while I wait for the rice to be cooked),” she shared.

As an association, each member is required to save PhP50.00 monthly to the group. Some of the accumulated savings were later utilized as an emergency fund where a member can loan a maximum of PhP3,000.00 per cycle with five percent monthly interest.

Just as a single Buri strip beautifully weaved into bags, the members – in grateful appreciation to the DSWD’s intervention – realized that working together as an association sharing ideas and knowledge is way more effective than working alone. (by: Janine Joy B. Altero, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)