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Inugyon Bags: Weaving hope towards a better life

Marginalized women in Barangay Pasi, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, have been working their way to boost their income, hoping to make both ends meet through weaving bags called "Inugyon."

"Inugyon" is a Hiligaynon term, which means to work hand in hand or to unite.

Intricate as it is, the Inugyon handwoven bags are lovingly crafted by the skilled hands of local women in Barangay New Pasi, slowly inching their way to international markets such as the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, and Middle Eastern countries.

"We are promoting their products by bringing them to the different trade fairs that we are attending, then we also brought them to the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo as well as in Mindanao, the travel and trade Expo in Davao City, and probably soon at the Philippine Travel Mart," said Tacurong City Tourism Officer Emelie Jamorabon.

She said that the main patrons are still the locals, but due to national and international trade exhibits and expositions, the bags generated many buyers and followings from people based abroad.

Just like the bag’s brand name, women in the barangay are working together, patiently weaving the plastic strips, collaborating with local artists, and dedicating their time to improving their products.

Jamorabon said that Inugyon bags are originally made of "pandan leaves," but due to the scarcity of these leaves nowadays, they were able to find an alternative way to weave by using plastic strips.

The Inugyon Women's Weaver Association of Barangay Pasi, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat

Inugyon bags have a variety of colors, some of which are even hand-painted by local artists, while some designs include other artistic materials such as fabric and beads.

Lourdes Larios, president of the Inugyon Women's Weaver Association (IWWA), admitted that creating an Inugyon bag is a labor-intensive process that involves a series of steps, each requiring skills and attention to details.

IWWA was organized by the Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU) as a recipient for their livelihood assistance in 2019.

As part of its community service, the SKSU made an extra effort to help them, giving the women an avenue to spend their time wisely by guiding them on how to generate and boost their income to help their families.

The association, which was composed mostly of women from different spectrums, such as housewives, single parents, persons with disabilities, students, and out-of-school youths who are eager to learn and earn extra, eventually started weaving in the same year.

The beneficiaries underwent a six-month training program to acquire the basic skills of weaving bags.

Recently, the Department of Tourism (DOT) awarded them P200,000 for the purchase of raw materials and new equipment such as sewing machines to ramp up their production.

“Kulang po kami sa supply konti pa lang ang weaver. Ang experience ko po bawat gawa namin wala talagang maiwan, mabenta po talaga [We somewhat lack supplies due to the inadequate number of weavers. My experience is that every bag we make are always sold out],” Larios said.

She also emphasized the need to increase their workforce. "Need po namin ng mga bagong weaver para matugunan po ang demand. Tuloy-tuloy po ang pag invite namin sa mga gustong mag weave [We need new weavers to address the high demand. So we are continuously inviting others who like to weave to join us]."

Aside from the SKSU and DOT, other government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the local government of Tacurong City also made ample contributions to help the association improve.

“With regards to the Inugyon bags made by the weavers from Barangay New Pasi, we could see that there's a big opportunity na ma-uplift pa ang buhay ng mga weavers because most of them are housewives and they don't have a regular income,” Jamorabon told the Philippine Information Agency Region 12.

Inugyon bags are now gaining popularity online, providing an advantage for the weavers to easily connect with their customers.

The price of the handwoven bags ranges from P600 to P1,500.

Tacurong City Mayor Joseph George Lechonsito expressed his appreciation to all stakeholders that helped the women's association gain traction in the market, saying that he is proud of how far this association has come so far.

He is confident that the Inugyon bags will not only give the weavers the opportunity to contribute to their family's income and gain financial independence but will also solidify hope for a better future for all the members.

The group is continuously innovating to improve the quality of their bags and make them relevant among users not just locally but internationally.

“Tuloy-tuloy na po ang promotion ng aming bags, sa tulong ng SKSU at LGU lalo na sa tourism pati yung DTI nagpromote din nag hit po ‘yung aming bags. Marami po from other places bumibili at ginagawang pasalubong po [We are promoting our bags non-stop with the help of SKSU and LGU, especially the Tourism Office and DTI. Our bag is a hit, as there are those from other places who buy our bags as souvenirs],” Larios said. (AMB – PIA Region 12)

About the Author

Catherine Apelacio

Information Officer III

Region 12

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