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The Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMPC) had gone a long way when it dared to venture into the production of machine decorticated fiber and handwoven pina cloth and its buy products.

Since its launching in 2006, LPMPC has developed into a reliable partner of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) in its development of polypiña cloth to address the need of a tropical fabric that will be utilized for the office uniforms of more than a million government employees. This paved the way to being a regular supplier of machine decorticated fiber to various notable buyers such as the Masa Ecological Development, Inc. And John Titan of Lumban, Laguna, who has 57 outlets throughout the Philippines.

Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative

In order to ensure continuous supply of quality fiber, LPMPC has been acting as a big brother to small producers of machine decorticated fiber and manually scraped knotted fiber as a buyer/consolidator, helping 12 communities with already a total employment of 400 from 30 in 2006.

This effort of LPMC to impact other communities in its project has not been left unnoticed. In 2009, a project of the Republic of Spain tapped LPMPC to act as the consolidator for all the machine decorticated fiber that will be produced by all the group beneficiaries in the different municipalities. The LPMPC agreed to do so because of its desire to help out small producers in the different municipalities by lending working capital, providing additional units of decorticating machines and buying their produce. Initial project outcomes have shown the cooperation by LPMPC and the other group beneficiaries. This inspired project evaluators had provided for the second batch of decorticating machines in the municipalities of Mercedes, Talisay and Vinzons and had also granted motorcycles with haulers to the first batch of beneficiaries.
The impressive performance of LPMPC in terms of managing its projects, be it foreign or locally funded, encouraged other line agencies to provide LPMPC technical and financial assistance in its continuous pursuit of developing its Integrated Pineapple Processing Project.

Two new buildings have been constructed by LPMPC to house its hand weaving of pina cloth and the making of handmade piña paper. The existing production area will now be solely used for the processing of pineapple juice, vinegar and dehydrated pineapple.

LPMPC is not resting its laurels inspite of its achievements. It had collaborated with the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) for the development of a natural fabric required by RADIOSA, an Italian Fashion House that wanted to explore the possibility of using Philippine natural fibers in fashion design. This was in response to the request of Mr. Esteban Pagaran, the Philippine’s Assistant Agricultural Attache to Italy. LPMPC delivered the samples directly to Mr. Luigi Grimaldi, the Production Manager of RADIOSA.

Its role as big brother have also radiated as far as the province of Laguna when it formed partnership with DORCAS Multi-purpose Cooperative (DORCAS MPC), a cooperative of marginalized women in Lumban, Laguna, whose skill in embroidery is very much needed by LPMPC in its development of hand embroidered and machine embroidered pina cloth, and its by-products, with latest designs.

In order to ensure continuous supply of quality Formosa pineapple, LPMPC not only loaned PhP2M from the Land Bank of the Philippines to finance pineapple growing ventures of its members but also collaborated with the Department of Agriculture Research for the implementation of project on “Enhancing Competitiveness of Queen Pineapple in Camarines Norte.” This project which will be implemented for one year with an approved funding of PhP3M and has three major components such as a) Upscaling the Production of Exportable Fruits; b) Market Development, and c) Capability Building.

After a year of hardwork, the crowning glory of all the efforts of LPMPC in developing its handwoven products paid off when their handwoven cloth was chosen by Runway Productions, Inc. to be the material for fashion show held in connection with the celebration of International Year of Natural Fibers 2009 at SMX Convention Center at the SM Msll of Asia, Pasay City in October 21, 2009, which was sponsored by ABS-CBN. Thirty-three (33) models ramped in the runway garbed in the handwoven cloth of LPMPC cut in various styles and designs.

Setting its vision farther for the global market, the LPMPC tied-up with the Association of Philippine Free Trade, Inc. (APFTI) through the facilitation of DTI-CNPO for the development of various products from pineapple fiber and pineapple fruit. Initial dialogue and plans had already been laid out.

Now there is no stopping the LPMPC in attaining what had been considered before by some as an impossible dream and leave its mark as a cooperative who only knows to do what has to be done.

When the Shared Service Facility (SSF) project of the department was launched, LPMPC was one those chosen as cooperator and was awarded with a total project cost of close to PhP3M. DTI turned over 12 sets of defibering machines, directly benefitting seventy (70) MSMEs engaged in the defibering of Formosa pineapple leaves and 1,751 pineapple growers in the various pineapple-producing barangays in the province of Camarines Norte. As cooperator, LPMPC with currently 8.448 members will manage the facilities and shall also as the lone consolidator of machine decorticated fiber in the province.

The first batch of SSF for Machine Defibering of Pineapple was established on November 18, 2013 with three (3) units of defibering machines, and was formally turned over to LPMPC on February 20, 2014. The SSF is being maintained at the main office of LPMPC located in Malasugui, Labo, Camarines Norte where the existing machineries are presently housed. The defibering machines are being rented for a fee to pineapple growers and other individuals engaged in the defibering of Formosa pineapple leaves in the various barangays of Camarines Norte. Through the DTI’s SSF project, three (3) entrepreneurs who are producing machine decorticated fiber were developed. Currently, the market of the machine decorticated fiber are the fiber processors in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Cavite, Metro Manila, Benguet and exporters based in Manila and Cebu. Hopefully, with the continuous advocacy and information campaign being undertaken by DTI, the government employees will utilize tropical fabric from pineapple fiber for their office uniform. This will encourage textile companies to manufacture tropical fabrics and provide a sustainable market. The volume of production has likewise increased by 73% compared to the previous production capacity prior to SSF. It is aimed that with the SSF, the beneficiaries will be able to produce quality machine decorticated fiber being demanded by local and export market.

FAST FACTS:
Cluster: Agri-Business
Cooperator: Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMPC)
Location: Malasugui, Labo, Camarines Norte
Date Established: September 11, 1987
Date Registered with CDA : April 1, 1991
Members: Direct - 8,448
Products Produced : Machine Decorticated Fiber
Raw Materials : Fresh Formosa Pineapple Leaves Prices:
Price ranging from Php 250.00—Php 300.00 per kilo Production

Volume:

•Prior to SSF - 260 kilos per month/ 3,120 per year •After SSF -452.73 kilos per month/ 5,432.76 per year

Market/s:

•Prior to SSF - local processors in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay, Cavite, Metro Manila, Benguet and exporters based in Metro Manila and Cebu •After SSF - local processors in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Cavite, Metro Manila, Benguet and exporters based in Metro Manila and Cebu

Sales Generated:

•Prior to SSF - P65,000.00 per month/P780,000.00 year •After SSF -P113,182.50 per month /P1,358,212.50 per year
Jobs Generated: Direct -52 Indirect: 13
No. of Beneficiaries Availing SSF:70 MSMEs

In 2013, the Buhi OTOP Key Players of BOKPA was among the first to be identified and qualified as SSF beneficiary.  Through the cooperation of the Caceres Social Foundation, a church-based organization, the weavers became the happy, grateful and appreciative recipients of 40 handlooms and 6 sewing machines, which they need to produce and earn more.

Since the award, the weavers in Buhi maximized the use of  handlooms.  Every time  DTI visits, all handlooms have work in progress and spindles are always busy spinning.  Since it is home-based, all household members are working together to produce “hinabol”.  The converters are all busy trading the products in the region, especially in the growth areas, while others are waiting at home for the regular buyers to pick-up their blankets. 

Buhi Weavers

 

To the women of Buhi, handloom weaving is an age-old skill.  Historically, handloom weaving used to be the locals’ way of producing clothes out of abaca fiber, which is converted into the traditional “baro’t saya”, “kamisa”, mosquito net and even underwear.  The hinabol was also used as a strainer for rice flour that is used in making local delicacies. 

The use of cotton thread from scrap t-shirt collars from factories in Manila was introduced to the local weavers in the 70’s and the town of Buhi became known as a major inces and they reach as far as Visayas and Mindanao.  Its popularity waned in the early ‘90s where the presence of department stores were felt in the countryside and people were provided with many other alternatives. 

This being the case, the traditional handloom weaving in many parts of the region became extinct but never in Buhi.  According to the weavers we interviewed, their lives will not be complete without weaving, so they are here to stay.

The Buhi weavers were among the clusters in the wearables and homestyle sector being assisted by DTI-Camarines.  The support was more concretized and focused when it was chosen as the OTOP of Buhi.  The active weavers of the group were organized, now named Buhi OTOP Key Players Association.  Since then, the group was provided with an outpouring assistance from the department. 

Conversion of the “hinabol” into other products aside from blanket was developed in the area and several MSMEs were developed.  They were able to produce a variety of products through the help of DTI’s series of product development seminars.  Since then, the group was given the rare opportunity to join trade fairs not only in the region, but also in Metro Manila.  However, lack of equipment were among their concerns, hence the provision of the Shared Service Facility to the BOKPA was well appreciated by the group.

“We could not imagine a life without weaving because  weaving is our life, so weaving is here to stay.  We love weaving, this is us, this is our heritage, this is our life. (Buhi weavers)

Life is busy for the handloom weavers in the quaint town of Buhi.  The homes are alive with twirls and colors of the threads and fabrics, people are happy and contented, tradition is preserved. 

Mala-uyay is now in business

          Susan Abad is a young grandmother.  She used to be a tailor in Manila who came back to Buhi to raise her family.  Although a skilled sewer, she was not able to use her skills fully because of lack of opportunities in Buhi.

She weaved blankets like the others

Because her neighbors are into weaving, she also learned the craft and became a weaver and sold her products as blankets as the norm in the town.  There was a time in June, when her daughter was already in high school and she has no money to buy a school bag, she made a bag for her daughter from her “hinabol”

Then she made bags

When her daughter came home after the first day of classes, she reported that she reported that she doesn’t have a bag anymore because her teacher bought it and she ordered 3 more.  From them on, she made bags out of her woven fabrics and sold the same in town. 

She said that she became so passionate with bags, that when she sees a new design, she would not stop until she examined it carefully and imagined how it was done.  Among the bestseller bags in Buhi is a knapsack that looks like a shoe.  She said that she’s the first one who made it in hinabol fabric.

An electricity bill collector came one day wearing a shoe-like bag.  She got excited with its novel look so she asked the man if she could have it copied by giving the bag to her because she has to redo it in order to make a new one.  Luckily, the man is generous enough to give her the bag on the condition that when she makes a bag like it, she should make one for him, too.

And the shoe bag became a hit

The bill collector received his hinabol shoe bag because Susan sold hundreds of shoe bags and many other converters have copied it too, making it a bestseller among their products.  That’s why she was chosen to a recipient of a zigzag sewing machine through the SSF project of DTI, and she has a beautiful story to tell.

Buhi Weavers

The seminar kit challenge

She said that the SSF paved a significant part in her life, testing her talents, capability, ability and all other aspects in her life, and she was so happy of the experiences as many proved her as a person.  When SSF came in October 2013, it was housed at the Parish Hall of Buhi as a communal facility for the converters.  However, to them it was not workable because they have to spend more time and money before they can use it, since it is very far from her place, which is a remote part of the town.  So, the facility was nothing to  her, but she is aware that they can use it and that it is for them.

Sometime in March 2014, she was asked to go to Legazpi by DSWD to a project that at first she did not understand well, so she reluctant to go.  She is very mindful of the money she has to spend for the fare.  Nevertheless, she took heed of the call because she does not want to disappoint the personnel from DSWD who invited her to come.  Because of her reluctance, she arrived lunchtime, though she has to be there at 9:00 A.M.  What happened in Legazpi was something she could not forget.  She got an order that she has never dreamt of, 1,500 pieces of seminar kits made of hinabol fabrics, which she has to deliver in 1 1/5 months!

Though afraid and could not believe for herself, she accepted the challenge.  Upon her return, she immediately went to some weavers whom she believed could deliver the hinabol fabrics.  She also pleaded to the cooperator to release the machines to her and to the other members of the group so they could supply the order.

She said that it was a great opportunity for her and the group for without the SSF, they would not be able to come up with the orders, since they don’t have the means to do it.  She said that it was a baptism of fire and should another opportunity come, she and her group are ready to take the challenge.

While waiting for another opportunity, she is regularly producing wallets and bags for her regular buyers.  She is very thankful for the sewing machine that helped them a lot, especially in their livelihood.  Also, she thanks the many government assistances and support that they received that made their lives more challenging, and a result improved their quality of life.

Her success can be seen by the metamorphosis of her house and she always wears a smile every time we make a visit.  Come, Mala-uyay is in business! (Mala-uyay is the name she calls her products, which means beautiful in Buhi-non)

Buhi Weavers

A New Dawn Arises for the Lavapies

Julie Lavapie is a housewife who stays at home and works at a neighbor’s handloom for livelihood.  Life is hard for her and her family and they could hardly have both ends meet.

Julie is among the women identified to be a beneficiary of the SSF handloom project in Buhi.  Her heart overflows with happiness and gratitude for this gift because at last, she has her own handloom. 

After receiving the handloom, she immediately assembled it and started working on it.  Day and night she weaves, and soon, all of her family members, including her husband are weaving.  They can produce more than 6 blankets a day. 

After 3 months, they were able to buy another handloom and now, they have a total of 4 handlooms.  She has to extend her humble house in order to house all the handlooms.  The converters are her major buyers, since they want to deal with the Lavapies because they can immediately produce their requirements as 5 members of the family are working together. 

The Lavapies is one big happy family and are very thankful for being one of the beneficiaries of DTI’s SSF project.  Each member of the family earns and their lives improved because of SSF.

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