Like her eyes and hands synchronized in a silent music, Betty weaved the dried buri leaves into a colorful pattern of bright colors. In about an hour, the buri will be completely adorned with accessories to make the fourth bag for the day.

She and her co-weavers have about three weeks to satisfy a bulk order from a customer.

Such is the ordinary course of business for the San Juan Buricraft SEA Kaunlaran Association since it received livelihood assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment-Regional Office 1.

Betty, a former Overseas Filipino Worker and the association President, recalls how buri weaving was just traditionally done by residents of San Juan to produce hats which they used in farming. “We just relied on farming for subsistence. We had no idea what economic opportunities there were in buricraft,” she admits.

The association set out with its buri weaving project through a loan from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. However, given their too plain look, the products were hardly able to even stand a competition in the tight market. “It seemed like we were doing something good that just did not come out right,” Betty shares. The loan from the DSWD, of course, was a problem to contend with. The odds seemed to favor business breakdown, she said.

From that point, they knew they needed even the littlest help they can get.

In 2008, the Department of Labor and Employment-Regional Office 1 extended its assistance to the association in the form of Skills Upgrading on buri weaving to help the members improve the quality and increase the marketability of their products. The amount of P41,500.00 was awarded to the association as additional capital and training assistance.

After the training, Betty and her co-weavers started producing more attractive buri products.

Now, the members can make 3-5 well-designed bags and other items a day on a per order basis, though display products are available for walk-in customers.

The midribs of the buri leaves are first removed with a knife, then rolled and stripped into different sizes, as desired. The rolled leaves are bleached white, then dried under the sun for a day. To put color, the leaves are dyed and allowed to dry again for five minutes. In about two days, the leaves are ready for weaving. Betty says it takes about an hour to weave a simple bag, while about two hours are needed to produce one with a more complex design. The last step is putting the right accessories to make the product more attractive. The association also makes buri hats, mats, fans, wallets, clutch bags and other items. “What sets our product apart is, every design is unique,” Betty shares.

The participation of DOLE-RO1 in the project has made an impact not just on product improvement and marketability. It has likewise ushered in broader support and greater marketing opportunities. The Department of Trade and Industry assisted the association in product promotion by enlisting it in trade fairs. In the Luzon Island Trade Fair held in July 2009, its products were adjudged as the best seller. Since then, the association is always among those picked to represent Region 1 in national trade fairs. In December 2010, the buri products were again showcased in the National Reintegration Center for OFWs fair held in Subic, Pampanga.

Marketing assistance is also being provided by the DOLE-RO1, resulting in a notable increase in product demand in the last three years.

The members who have given their full time for the project are now earning an average monthly income of P3,000. For Betty and her co-weavers, the amount greatly supplements their family income. Fifty non-members have benefited indirectly from the project by supplying raw materials.

Betty says the association is working on generating additional capital to be able to meet the growing product demand.

As the buricraft industry booms, the association hopes to penetrate bigger markets.  With their cooperation, unity and hard work, that seems to be not a remote possibility. asv

Last Updated on March 10, 2022 by lopezhn