Bamboo products represent a global market worth billions of US Dollar and we are so blessed to have the resources to grow just about anything from crops to forest. This was the gist of the opening statement of Department of Trade and Industry-CAR Regional Director Myrna Pablo during the Bamboo Techno-Investment Forum held in Baguio City recently.

Rovilyn Mayat-an
Crafts and Folk Arts – Cordillera-based Entrepreneurs Rovilyn Mayat-an shares her stories to participants during the Bamboo Techno-Investment Forum & Roadshow conducted by #DTICAR

Answering why bamboo should be propagated in the region, Pablo explained to the 200 strong participants that bamboo can help boost the Cordillera’s comparative advantage like the environment to grow the various species and its many uses thus ensuring markets aside from its big potential for socio-economic development.

The investment opportunities, market trends and economic significance of bamboo were likewise pointed out by Philippine Bamboo Foundation President Edgardo Manda who also invited the participants to the Kawayanan of St. Francis Xaview Seminary in Baguio where different species are being cultivated for planting.

National Industry Cluster Coordinator for Bamboo Judith Angeles, the Regional Director of DTI Region 3 presented to the participants the ongoing programs and projects of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Coordinating Council that supports the growth and development of the Bamboo industry in the country. 

Carlo Balneg
Abra Entrepreneur Carlo Balneg poses beside a bamboo stand at the Philippine Bambusetum of the Watershed and Water Resources Research Center of Ecosystem (WWRRC) of DENR. The roadshow took place in three venues that includes the DENR’s Bambusetum and Mayat-an’s workplace in Asin Barangay,  #CreativeBaguio #CordilleraBambooIndustry #Bambuhay

As to the viability of bamboo in CAR, Minda Odsey of the Watershed and Water Resources Research Center- Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau of DENR-CAR attested that the upland provinces of the region is ideal for bamboo propagation and that her office also provides planting materials or propagules upon request.

Assistant Regional Director Augusto Lagon of DENR-CAR and Engr. Ernesto Aton of the National Greening Program of DENR-CAR encouraged farmers to increase their bamboo plantation citing that it is not only used for anti-erosion and soil protection but harvesting is less prohibitive unlike timber.

Dr. Rico Jariel Cabangoon, the head and research specialist of the Engineered Products Development Section of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute discussed various technology innovations and consultancy activities that his offers to entrepreneurs engaged in bamboo. Fatima Tangan, a retired DENR official who now serves as a consultant shared some insights on environmental rehabilitation and livelihood components of bamboo.

Bamboo Techno-Investment Forum Roadshow participants
Participants of the Bamboo Techno-Investment Forum Roadshow poses for posterity at the Francis Xavier Seminary with Philippine Bamboo Foundation President Edgardo Manda shown wearing a red scarf at the back row.

Two participants of the forum shared their experiences and Carlo Balneg of Carlo’s Bamboocraft from the province of Abra narrated how he started small and joined DTI’s many trade fairs until finally a big break came when an exporting firm from Cebu ordered P4.6 Million pesos worth of bamboo placemats. Balneg further said that through bamboo, he was able to employ 120 members of his barangay and send his siblings to college.

Entrepreneur Rovilyn Mayat-an, a consistent participant to DTI-CAR’s annual trade fair IMPAKABSAT narrated how she developed her products to suit the growing demands of buyers. She combines hand woven fabrics with traditional baskets made of bamboo and even introduced pouches, body-bags and a unique product she calls “anti-depressant bag” that users can hug when sad and lonely.

The roadshow took place in three venues that includes the DENR’s Bambusetum, along Loacan Road, Mayat-an’s workplace in Asin Barangay and the Kawayanan of Francis Xavier Seminary, Liteng Pacdal, Baguio City. With all the agencies and private entities involved, the participants expressed optimism that an act to make the bamboo industry competitive will soon be passed to ensure sufficient supply of quality raw materials, provide opportunities for local employment and establish bamboo-based enterprises nationwide.♦