The art of bamboo
As sturdy as the bamboo tree, the people of Sitio Kiwit, Busuanga, Palawan rose from Typhoon Yolanda’s trail of devastation through traditional bamboo weaving.
Sitio Kiwit lies in the northern part of Busuanga where the major source of income comes from selling organic vegetables and bamboo handicrafts. The area, unfortunately, was wrecked by the typhoon in 2013.
In 2016, Caritas Philippines, a non-profit organization, led a livelihood development program including revival of bamboo weaving industry in Busuanga such as the creation of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay – Social Action Center (AVT-SAC) Bambuhay Palawan Association.
Under the Recovery Assistance for Yolanda Project of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the group received skills training to upgrade their products, and links with exporters.
Through the AVT-SAC, the residents of Busuanga are being taught to use bamboo into various crafts for livelihood after years of the material’s diminished popularity. “Kaya Bambuhay ang naging pangalan ng grupo dahil ang mga bamboo o buho ang muli naming naging hanapbuhay matapos ang ilang taon (We named our group Bambuhay because after many years it became our main source of income again.),” said Maribel Greza, president of AVT-SAC Bambuhay.
The association then received product design assistance from the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST). They also received trainings from the DTI MIMAROPA Region.
“Malaki ang naitulong ng training na ito dahil inalalayan talaga kami step-by-step. Natuto kami ng mga techniques kung papaano pa namin mapapaganda ang produkto naming,” said Greza.
After the training, almost 80% of bamboo wood was turned into new products, and sold to stores in Coron, Palawan, while also joining other trade fairs under DTI.
One of the most impressive things about the bamboo is how it sways with the breeze. The foundation of the bamboo is solid, yet it moves and sways harmoniously with the wind, never fighting against it.
Like the bamboo, the artisans in Sitio Kiwit bent with challenges through the art of bamboo making until finally recovering from grief and hopelessness.