By Anna Valmero
CORON, PALAWAN— With a municipal ordinance banning plastic, mothers in Coron are able to generate income by weaving bayongs from buho, a type of ornamental bamboo.
Buho, a smaller variety of the bamboo plant, is a neglected resource in this island town. Some will harvest it only for use as fuel or to weave sawali when replacing a wall at home, said Kristine Michelle Ablaña, tourism operations officer for Coron.
The birth of the buho handicrafts industry was actually an example of turning a disaster into an opportunity.
Due to the development in the area, some of the plastic garbage generated by the bustling tourism industry has resulted into several clogged waterways, which in turn caused heavier flooding last year, particularly in the Poblacion, Kristine said.
This prompted the local government unit to issue Municipal Ordinance 81-A, banning the use of plastic in establishments particularly food and groceries. The ordinance urges the public to bring reusable bayongswhen doing their groceries to lessen the plastic garbage in the small town.
This is when the local trade and industry office turned into buho as potential raw material for making bayongs.
Training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority fine-tuned the weaving skills of mothers in the area, who produce sawali (bamboo woven into walls) from time to time.
Late last year, the mothers formed the San Nicolas Basket Weavers group and started selling their products through pasalubong centers and local trade fairs in the province such as the Baragatan Trade Fair held every June.
“Aside from its unique feel and look, the bags made of buho are very sturdy and can last a long time because it is made from the same material as sawali, which usually walls our homes,” Kristine said.
The bags sell at P150 each and can be used as ladies’ handbag or as grocery bag, she added.
Revenues from selling bags has been helping mothers in Coron to earn extra income for their families and helps send kids to school especially during the lean fishing and farming seasons.
“The bags made of buho symbolize the empowerment of the local mothers in our town. For them, it was a livelihood source that allowed them to be more productive and empowered members of the community,” Kristine said.
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