The Yakan Weavers Albarakkattu Multi-Purpose Cooperative produces high-quality handicrafts for sustaining the development of Yakan communities in Zamboanga and
Guided by this goal, the cooperative joined the recently concluded 63rd Manila FAME at the World Trade Center. Giving them the much needed exposure, their booth at the One Town, One Product (OTOP) program, which displayed a wide array of authentic Yakan handwoven souvenir items—from wall décor, table runners, place mats, and shawls to slippers, purses, bags, espadrilles, and travel kits—was a sure hit among local and international buyers and visitors.
“Each product we have here is a labor of love. It entails a slow and steady process. A one-meter cloth material with intricate and beautiful motifs, for instance, takes around five days to finish,” said Angie Ilul, a multi-purpose cooperative member who actively champions the cause of the local weavers in Zamboanga and Basilan.
The Yakans, known for the exquisite vibrancy of color in their cloth and their exceptional weaving techniques, exert so much effort and consume days to create a vibrant and colorful single handmade cloth. Every Yakan fabric is believed “unique” since the finished products are not exactly identical, with differences in the pattern, design, or distribution of colors.
Ilul, who has a village shop in Zamboanga with 20 weavers under her helm, said that the cooperative was able to generate approximately P100,000 in sales during the four-day trade show. “This is already good. If only we have the capacity to increase our production, we can meet the demands of the foreign buyers at Manila FAME. Right now, we’re just using the mano mano style,” said Ilul who also participates in other local trade shows in Metro Manila and in the provinces.
According to Ilul, weaving is the only form of livelihood of the Yakan women in the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City and in Basilan. It is a tradition carefully passed down from one generation to another—from the lola to the nanay up to the granddaughter. It has become an after-school pastime for quite a number of school girls who, as young as seven, would engage in textile weaving done on a back strap loom so they could earn some extra income for their school allowance.
Because of this, Ilul would like to delve into product development that would allow her and her team of local weavers to cater to the needs and demands of the global market. She envisions to have more Yakan handwoven products with simple color combinations which trade buyers from Japan, Korea, and some European countries find more appealing.
“We might have these products for the October 2016 edition of Manila FAME,” she said.
“We are extremely grateful to the Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (BDTP) for allowing us to join Manila FAME where we can promote and sell our products as well as help the small entrepreneurs . . . the weavers back in Basilan.”
The OTOP program of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (DTI-BDTP) is a priority program of the government that aims to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in the country’s various regions.
Manila FAME is a bi-annual showcase of craftsmanship, design innovation, and artisanship in Philippine products. Organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of DTI, it features finely selected furniture and home furnishings, holiday gifts and décor, and fashion accessories designed and crafted in the Philippines for the global market.