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Bamboo straw production empowers IP women

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan (PIA)--Responding to their duties as full-time mothers formed a part of the daily routine of women like Irmanita Palsario in Sitio Sugod Dos, Brgy. Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City. But their love for their families made them not settle for this narrative; instead, they became active in looking for other livelihood sources to earn.

Irmanita, who is leading a group of Tagbanua women in the sitio, one of the indigenous peoples (IP) groups in Palawan, started to venture into bamboo straw production in 2019 with the assistance of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) management.

"Dati ay hindi pa namin siniseryoso kasi wala pa kaming buyer. Tatawag lang kung may bibili, saka lang kami gagawa, [We didn’t take it seriously before because we didn’t have a buyer yet. We would only start working when someone would call to make a purchase,]” she said.

However, it was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Her community also experienced the effects of Typhoon Odette in 2021, as it was one of the severely affected areas in the northern part of Puerto Princesa.

Brgy. Cabayugan is one of the assisted communities of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its climate action program. The assistance of UNDP provided some tools used by communities to return to business in 2023.

Irmanita Palsario in Sitio Sugod Dos, Barangay Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City, shares how tools from UNDP help them return to bamboo straw production. (Photo by Rachel Ganancial)

It also gave hope to the women of Sitio Sugod Dos to establish a market and have a stable source of income to help their husbands meet their needs.

"Magagamit namin ‘yong iba kahit walang kuryente—tinulungan kami nong nasa Kanegosyo Center, sinabihan kami na sige gawa kayo ng sampung libo (bamboo straws) kasi may merchant na umorder, [We can still use the tools even without electricity. The Kanegosyo Center helped us and instructed us to make ten thousand bamboo straws because a merchant placed an order,] she said.

The members of the women's group collaborated in producing 10,000 pieces, which were sold at P3.00 each.

One of the packs of bamboo straws to be delivered to merchants in the Poblacion area (Photo by Rachel Ganancial)

The opportunity gave them the assurance that they could earn while at home during their breaks from farming. Irmanita is also assured that she can send her three children to school.

"Ngayon ay tuloy-tuloy na kami dahil may market na kami. Malaking tulong para sa aming mga kababaihan, malaking ambag para sa mga pamilya namin kasi kapag walang trabaho, asa ka lang sa padre de pamilya, hirap din talaga. Nakahinga nang maluwag na nagkaroon kami ng ambag sa mga pamilya namin, [Now we are continuously operating because we already have a market. It’s a big help for us women and our families. It can be quite challenging if we have no work and we solely rely on the head of the family. We felt relieved that we are able to provide for the needs of our families,]" she said.

Some merchants in the Poblacion area are currently using their products, as the city is also advocating a ban on single-use plastics. (RPG/PIA MIMAROPA-Palawan)

About the Author

Rachel Ganancial

Information Officer

Region 4B

Information Officer of PIA-MIMAROPA/ Palawan

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