The raffia weavers of Central Visayas (Region 7) are benefiting from the growing demand for raffia-based products in international markets such as Europe, United States, Spain, and Japan. Indigenous local materials such as raffia, buri, pina, and abaca are gaining popularity among foreign buyers due to the skills and artistry of Filipino craftsmen and the increasing preference of global consumers for biodegradable products.
Although raffia, a straw like material used in various crafts is found in many parts of the country, it is abundant and of good quality in Bohol province in Region 7. Products made from raffia include bags, placemats, wallets, table runners, fashion accessories, furniture, and home decorations.
Bohol's weaving centers were set up under a government project, in collaboration with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP). It started in January to help raffia weavers in Bohol, particularly Inabanga and Tubigon municipalities who mixed the fiber with recycled materials such as newspapers, cotton, plastic straw, seaweed, and plastic twine. After Inabanga and Tubigon, the ECCP program will help other Region 7 weaving centers as the volume of products is expected to increase this year.
Raffia weaving is one of the oldest Boholano crafts. Weavers use raffia fibers from young buri leaf sheaths. To obtain more raw materials, Bohol does networking with adjoining provinces such as Cebu and Siquijor which abound with buri palms. The Inabanga local government set up a buri palm plantation covering 25 hectares of land.
The raffia weaving industry continues to show much promise and it is getting assistance from government as well as private groups. It contributes in job creation, generates dollar revenues, and offers livelihood opportunities for rural women and out of school youth.
Source: Manila Bulletin; Views, Comments, Features; 08 October 2011