JOSE ABAD SANTOS, Davao Occidental – The Indigenous People (IP) members of the Marabatuan Weavers Association (MAWEA) from the Municipality of Jose Abad Santos (JAS) have continued to promote and preserve their culture through their decades-old activity. 

The 50 members of the organization have been utilizing the gift of nito weaving, a legacy from their ancestors, to develop usable and profitable items, such as plates, bags, hampers, planters, and more. 

The Manobo and B’laan tribe live in the far-flung barangay of Marabatuan, which is 4.4 -kilometer away from the municipality’s poblacion. From Davao City, one has to travel by land for six hours, and endure the long and winding road of Davao Occidental to reach the haven of nito weaving.  

While the area seems isolated from the busy atmosphere of the town, it is teeming with good vibes seeing the creative MAWEA members doing their regular activity – weaving.  

The nito vine (Lygodium circinatum) they are using is a fern-like plant abundantly growing in the barangay. It grows as a secondary forest cover, clinging to trees and rocks, making the surroundings more relaxing. 

To maximize the availability of raw materials, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Davao Occidental has been giving them the much-needed assistance. They are guided on how to come up with sophisticated designs with their exquisite craftsmanship. From the hands of the lumads, unique designs representing the tribal identity of the Manobo and B’laan tribes are produced. 

Photo of a group of women

“With the drive to preserve and protect the cultural identity of the Philippine native art, our office, through Negosyo Center – Jose Abad Santos, assisted the association by providing entrepreneurial seminars and marketing assistance in the form of product development workshops and participation to local and national trade fairs,” DTI-Davao Occidental Program Office Manager Ma. Joycelyn F. Banlasan said. 

In the meantime, MAWEA president Alma Calibay shared her thoughts on the assistance her group has been receiving from the government agency. 

“DTI se mig-inang te pemeokit amon doen datengen te kanami business siiini,” she said in the Manobo dialect, which translates to: “DTI made a way to assist and help our association to elevate our business.” 

The intensive social media marketing intervention of DTI-Davao Occidental has paved the way for the MAWEA products to gain online recognition. As a result, it has been receiving bulk orders from different markets, both local and international.  

In October last year, Lithuania-based Native Luxurious purchased 70 nito and uway products from them. The group generated to a total sales of P37,000 from the European buyer. Additionally, the MAWEA products will soon reach Indonesia after receiving inquiries from a potential buyer there. 

Screenshot of a website interface

Isip usa ka lumad, dako kaayo akong pagpasalamat sa DTI-Davao Occidental sa pag-guide ug pag-assist sa asosasyon nga naa diri sakong nasakupan na barangay.   Nakita nako na mao  ni ang nakabisihan sa mga bata, hamtong ug mga edaran – ang pagbuhat ug mga nito na produkto. Ug dako kaayo ning tabang sa ilahang pang-adlaw adlaw na panginabuhi ug hilabi na nga na-preserba ang kultura sa mga lumad (As an IP, I am very grateful to DTI-Davao Occidental for guiding and assisting the association within my area of responsibility. I have witnessed how it has become a regular activity among the youth and adults here. This is a huge help for their daily sustenance and even in preserving their culture),” Marabatuan barangay captain Jennifer Joyce said. 

For DTI-Davao Occidental, Banlasan, they will continue with their commitment to serve the local entrepreneurs. 

“We don’t only provide them with complimentary seminars and trainings because we want to see them succeed. We ensure that they are cared for in every way possible. Receiving positive feedback from our beneficiaries and clients motivates us to do more and improve our program implementation,” she said. “We are really grateful to individuals who value our work.” 

Since the start of 2021, the office has already assisted 30 MSMEs and conducted 10 training activities for them. ♦

Date of Release: 10 August 2021