Weaving is the main source of income of women in Barangay Bul-bulala, Lapaz, Abra. Women in this community are renowned for their creativity in combining colorful threads into a wonderful pieces of artistic textiles. They believe that weaving is a distinctive way of expressing arts, culture, and tradition. Their hand-looming is not only a product-but a trademark of their identity, the inheritance they wish to pass onto the next generations.
Hand weavers Ms. Marijoy Arteinda, Maria Cridelyn Patil, and Rosemelyn Figares (L-R) of the Mang-Abel ti Abra Association show their skills in crafting creative textile
Before the global pandemic struck and lockdowns were imposed in March 2020, the Mang-Abel ti Abra Association weavers of La Paz, Abra received sufficient orders from various designers within the Philippines and even clients abroad.
“As a full-time mother, weaving has helped me and my family. The average income I earned was Php 6,000.00 a month, and on months when the demand of orders are numerous, my salary would be as high as Php 10,000 a month”, said Ms. Rosemelyn Figares, one of the loom weavers in Association.
Ms. Rosemelyn narrated that, “Months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic it became difficult for us to jump-start our income, we are available to weave but the demand for our handloom products is insufficient.” Another weaver, Ms. Marijoy Artienda, added that there were instances when they are willing to work but health and safety restrictions made it impossible to meet the demand from orders. These reasons compounded their financial problems even as the pandemic spread in the region.
Through the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), the Department of Labor and Employment in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the DOLE-Abra Field Office (DOLE-AFO), provided a financial assistance of Php 5,000.00 for each of the 47 members of the Mang-Abel ti Abra Association. This thread of hope pulled them from financial distress, and served as a silver lining amidst the storm.
Ms. Marijoy recalled that when she received her financial assistance, “I was so grateful, it was a moment that I felt the presence of DOLE and DOT, that the government is reaching out to people like us”. Similarly, Ms. Maria Cridelyn Pantil expressed “I remember when I received the financial assistance, I was able to pay our electric bill and purchase grocery items that we needed. Thank you for giving hope that we needed particularly during those difficult times”. Both beneficiary-recipients are grateful for the impact of the monetary aid given them, and expressed a more positive outlook in the coming days.
The financial grant that the weavers of Abra have received may be a small amount, but it is the feeling of being valued that embiggens the government aid. It was not just the family members of the weavers that benefitted, but it radiated to the hand-looming community to continue weaving, their tradition, their trademark, and their legacy.
END//Daryll Ponard, with initial report from DOLE-Abra FO