The difficulties in life and being a migrant in Baguio City, a young man from the uplands struggled to sustain his family needs. Lito Malaggay , a young man from Boliney, an upland town of Abra Province first found work as a lineman’s assistant, carrying heavy wires and supporting more skilled workers during the electrification of barangays in Mt. Province this is where his talent on wire arts developed.
After the completion of the contract, Lito found himself out of a job. Needing money to support his growing family, he found a job at Easter School Weaving Center where he learned how to become a tailor by creating bags, purses and other items using native woven patterns, a trademark of the Center who concentrated on producing souvenir items using Cordilleran woven patterns.
He then realized that his salary as a contractor worker was not enough to alleviate his family from poverty. Remembering his friends’ advice to use his talent as an artist to provide for his family, Lito quit his job and decided to become as an entrepreneur with his own business in 2015.
Lito admits that it was hard at first, since he does not have any showroom for his works but he has to do it as it can earn more money for his family. He first displayed his wire artworks below the Abanao Street overpass and streets of Magsaysay at night, this continued for a while but after a couple of months, they were barred from displaying or selling after the city government implemented an ordinance disallowing these activities in public parks and other areas.
He visited private and government offices showing his works, sometimes entertained but most of the time guards turn him away. But he still persisted, as some corporate and individual customers started to get his number and order items especially during events and occasions to be given as tokens.
Before the provision of grant assistance in July 2017, Lito rely on lending institutions to support the needs of his business and to support the education of his children. He found out about the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Integrated Livelihood Program through DOLE-CAR Regional Director Exequiel Ronie A. Guzman after a radio interview at the DZEQ 999 am Radyo Pilipinas Baguio. Lito is a constituent of Navy Base Barangay where the radio station is located and was advised by Director Guzman to visit the DOLE Baguio Benguet Field Office. He was assisted by BBFO Livelihood Focal Clarissa Lyca Viscarra and was asked to join the Trabaho Negosyo Kabuhayan Fair at the top floor of the Porta Vaga Mall.
Today, Lito Malaggay is popularly known as the Barot Man or “Wire Man” for crafting sculptures, trophies and a lot more from wire. The trophies, garbed in traditional weaving designs which he personally sewed in the wire crafts can be made in an hour, a day or weeks depending on the design and size of the craft.
Other works include copper bracelets, camera wire, tournament and fun run trophies, wedding souvenirs or tokens, horseback rider, and pen holders. His works have travelled through local communities in the region, supplying his work to neighboring provinces in country such as Pangasinan, Isabela and Manila and recently, his wire works reached Hong Kong.
END/Patrick Rillorta with reports from Lyca Viscarra