For Ivonne Burgos Ramos, her hand-painted bayong business in Kidapawan City is an analogy for the innate gifts and potential of women entrepreneurs. In turning the humble bayong into a well-crafted fashion accessory, the business – Ivonne’s Bag Manufacturing – proves that women should not settle with “stay[ing] in the sidelines, but be on the front stage.”
A nurse by profession, Ivonne worked in Canada for a few years before coming back to the Philippines to be a stay-at-home mom. She was always into arts and crafts and continues to pursue hobbies like sculpting and crocheting even to this day. Apart from being a mother to three children, Ivonne raises various plants in her house and revels with a green thumb. It was perhaps this innate creativity that led her to a bayong breakthrough.
The traditional bayong refers to weaved bags originating from the Philippines using dried leaves such as buri in the Visayas and pandan in Luzon. Other organic materials derived from local plants like abaca, bacbac, karagumoy, sabutan, romblon, and tikog are also used for making bayong.
While walking around in a marketplace, brightly colored bayongs from North Cotabato made of recycled plastic straps caught Ivonne’s attention. She saw the potential of bayong as a canvas for even more creativity.
She embarked on this new project—hand-painting bayongs and accessorizing them with colorful twillies and furry balls. When ready, Ivonne introduced her business using this trendy and upgraded Philippine icon under the banner “Bayong Lokal.”, the brand name that has reached international shores.
Ivonne started out with a Php10,000 capital in April 2019, with just one local weaver. Her first customers were family and friends of friends. The business continues to be a home-based enterprise, one that grew through word of mouth. The popularity of her fashionable bayongs spread further that her weaver had to enlist the help of her daughters to be able to meet the demand.
Ivonne reflects that her business journey is a reminder of the Filipino “bayanihan” spirit. After all, it was referrals from family and friends that served as effective marketing for her products, which have now reached overseas. Since Ivonne had no business training and experience, she acquired knowledge in entrepreneurship from the Department of Trade and Industry’s Kapatid Mentor ME program, a business mentorship project currently being conducted through online classes.
Bayong Lokal is a testament to the creativity of Filipino women—not just as artists but also as entrepreneurs. From Ivonne’s painting and decorating skills to the craftsmanship of her weavers, it is a business that has been built on Filipina artistry. With the challenges faced by enterprises, Ivonne also believes that women, with their innate resilience and strength, can leap through hurdles and even gain a niche in the international market.♦
Date of Release: 21 September 2020