SANTA PRAXEDES, Cagayan: The area here planted to pandan, which is used to produce various ethnic products, will be doubled that will give marginalized groups of weavers a chance to enhance their livelihood.
Local officials said the expansion areas have been identified by the local government unit for the production of more pandan (scientific name Pandanus spp.) locally called sarakat. The expansion will be done under the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Mayor Esterlina Aguinaldo said the new area would add to the existing 10 hectares, and will satisfy the increased demand for products made from pandan, particularly woven products under the One Town One Product (OTOP) program of the Department of Trade and Industry.
“Our established sarakat areas will assure supplies of its leaves which are then woven into various products from its dried and dyed strips,” Aguinaldo said.
“We are so blessed that five of the 40 known species of pandan in the country can be found in our town to include sarakat, pataga, lingu-lingo, nisi and bodak which are of high economic importance, particularly for their spiny leaves which closely resemble that of the pineapple,” Aguinaldo said.
Being the town’s OTOP, the Municipal Council has passed three ordinances to support pandan’s propagation, one of which is Ordinance No. 2009-097 to “regulate the gathering, utilization and disposition of raw sarakat products in the municipality.”
“We started in 2006 with 15 women sarakat weavers called the Sarakat Movers, now known as the Santa Praxedes Sarakat Weavers Association. And for the total of 20 hectares sarakat production area, we have an initial P400,000 funding from Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project,” Aguinaldo said.
A fifth class municipality, Santa Praxedes town is the smallest in Cagayan province which borders the town of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, Calanasan town in Apayao and Claveria town in Cagayan. It is also one of the coastal towns of the province that does not have direct road access to its seacoast because of the high mountains surrounding it.
“Because of geographic way of life, our people are classified as the low-landers who do farming, tending domestic animals, fishing, sleeping mat weaving commonly known as banig or ikamen making in Ilocano dialect using indigenous sarakat groove leaves fiber and sinamay weaving using indigenous pinya or banana-like stalk fiber,” Aguinaldo said.
On the other hand, she said the high-landers in the municipality, commonly known as Yapayao, tend to their kaingin farms for rice and vegetables, and are into fishing, and collecting wild edible ferns and various fruits including red-berry fruits. They also hunt for wild animals.