Woven bags or bayongs have experienced resurgence. Among the throngs of products posted on local social media markets, Inana stands out for being well-crafted, sturdy, whimsically designed and reasonably priced.

Inana means grandmother in Luisiana, Laguna, the hometown of the father-in-law of Inana proprietor, Dr. Caryl Hombrebueno-Robel.

In Luisiana, her father-in-law started a small balulang (native bayong) business in the 60s. His relatives and neighbors used to weave the balulangs for him to sell in Quezon and Pampanga provinces. At that time, the balulangs were made of pandan leaves. Though fairly successful, her father-in-law discontinued the business and went into farming in the 1980s.


Caryl’s interest in balulangs started when she ordered them as gift packaging. Very soon, relatives and friends looked at the woven product not as a package but as an end-product itself. People started to order from her for their giveaways and personal use. The orders yielded promising results and prompted both Caryl and her husband to start selling in their hometown of Luisiana.

Caryl shares, “When I saw the ladies weaving the bags, I was amazed by their creativity and patience. I realized that the product had great potential. Thus, the brand Inana was born.”

Whereas woven bags of past generations were made out of indigenous leaves and rope, today’s bayongs/balulangs are made of plastic. By using plastic, the balulangs become re-usable and highly durable and can be stored for years. Unlike leaves and ropes, the plastic strips are very strong and do not become brittle or mold.


She is thankful that her small enterprise allows otherwise financially challenged women to earn a living. Ladies from Luisiana make the balulang in their houses. This setup allows them to contribute to the family funds while caring for their children at the same time. Each woman creates her own designs. Each meeting between Caryl and the weavers becomes an opportunity to exchange ideas on how to achieve a certain weave pattern.

Caryl added, “Our aim is to empower the women who make Inana. Gifted with ingenuity and fortitude, women are recognized for their craftsmanship as the Inana balulang showcases their creativity and hard work. Weaving using hard plastic is not as simple as using a soft material. Extra hand strength and creativity are needed in order to make a beautiful interwoven balulang. Hence, we make sure that these women are well compensated for their efforts. In the town of Luisiana, the art of weaving is passed on from generation to generation and we hope that this craftsmanship will continue with the younger ones.”

Caryl continues, “We chose to name the brand Inana to give recognition to the grandmothers and mothers who have passed on the skills of balulang-making to the present generation. The weavers of the past and present are women of strong faith, answering the challenges of taking care of the families and helping their husbands earn a living.”


With the assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry – Laguna Provincial Office (DTI-Laguna) through Negosyo Center Luisana, Caryl joined and participated in a Seminar on Social Marketing last March 2019 followed by a Seminar on Integrating Green Initiative in July 2020, both as part of the SME Roving Academy of the Department.

Currently, Caryl is one of the mentees of the One Town One Product (OTOP) program of DTI-Laguna, which aims to develop and enhance her products. With passion and ingenuity, she immediately caught the mentors’ attention and they recognize her product’s potential.

DTI-Laguna also provided Inana Handicrafts Store market access by allowing her to participate in KALAKAL CALABARZON 2020 and other trade fairs sponsored by the Department, earning its mark as one of the promising enterprises in Laguna and proving that we can attain economic success through creativity, social entrepreneurship, and women empowerment.  ♦

Date of Release: 26 November 2020