Edgardo Alonzo Tallong and Kalinga Indigenous Weavers Association
Edgardo Alonzo Tallong and Kalinga Indigenous Weavers Association

The notable and wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking proved that disabilities are not an obstacle to success, there are many individuals who are handicapped but have proven that they can fully and effectively participate in society.

In the highlands of the Cordilleras, there are persons with disabilities (PWD) or differently-abled persons who are their families’ breadwinners. These entrepreneurs are being supported by the Department of Trade and Industry Cordillera Administrative Region (DTI-CAR).

From warrior to entrepreneur
Edgardo Alonzo Tallong, 74, from Pudtol Apayao is an amputee and a former civilian volunteer during the 90s anti-insurgency campaign. He lost his left arm when he attempted to remove a bomb in their area during a conflict with a rebel group.

That incident may have changed him physically but it did not stop him from being a coffee farmer. He is a recipient of the One Town, One Product: NExt Gen Program of DTI-Apayao. He is also a recipient of coffee grinders under DTI’s Livelihood Seeding Program-Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (LSP-NSB) which helped him improve the quality of his product. The processing equipment provided by DTI lessened his burden of manually grinding roasted beans that often took him an entire day.

He is a proof that despite one’s disabilities, nothing is impossible if one has the courage to conquer his/her weakness. Today, Edgardo continues to engage in planting, harvesting, processing, and marketing coffee while also helping members of his community by providing them labor opportunities in his coffee farm.

PWDs as effective members of the workforce
The Kalinga Indigenous Weavers Association (KINWA) employs seven (7) PWDs in its production and marketing of handwoven products. Six (6) of KINWA’s workers are deaf-mute and one is paralyzed due to a spinal disease.

In 2015, KINWA was a recipient of loom weaving and sewing equipment from the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) of the Department of Trade and Industry. The set of equipment helped members increase their production that eventually expanded KINWA’s business venture.

Workshops on weaving and sewing are also regularly implemented by DTI—training seven (7) PWDs, two (2) single parents, two (2) orphaned families, and 35 nursing mothers.

Carol Tamawa sharing her expertise on bag making
Carol Tamawa sharing her expertise on bag making

Inspiring Others
Despite her hearing and speech disorder, Carol Tamawa was unfazed in her passion to share her skills and creativity, especially among interested women weavers and bag makers.

Using a borrowed manual sewing machine, Tamawa sews sling bags, backpacks, and purses from traditional textiles in the areas of Banaue, Hingyon, and Lagawe of Ifugao Province. During the DTI-organized trade fairs, Tamawa’s impressive loom woven bags kept buyers coming back to buy her products, and among her designs that became a hit was a prototype camera bag.

Recognized for her potentials and the impact of her contribution to the business growth of other women enterprises in the province, she was granted a manual sewing machine and a high-speed sewing machine by the DTI through its SSF program. DTI-Ifugao tapped Tamawa to inspire others to hone their skills through trainings on weaving and sewing.

Nowadays, she is currently being assisted in online marketing due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the business sector. Her products are available in 1K Steps Pasalubong Center in Alfonso Lista and at the DOST Product Hub in Lagawe, Ifugao.

A member of La Trinidad Association of Persons with Disability (LTA-PWD) and a KMME trainee
A member of La Trinidad Association of Persons with Disability (LTA-PWD) and a KMME trainee

The La Trinidad Association of Persons with Disability (LTA-PWD) is a recipient of several skills training and sewing machines under the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME Program) and Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program of DTI. Trainings offered by DTI include advanced tailoring, machine troubleshooting and maintenance, pattern making, and upholstery training. ♦

Date of Release: 16 July 2021