Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who just got a fresh mandate, reiterated her commitment to advance women’s welfare as she graced the turnover ceremony of the Shared Service Facility on handloom weaving machines to Cebu Technological University – Argao campus last Wednesday.
“We pledge our support to an industry that will benefit the women of Argao,” Magpale said in her message.
“Women empowerment, women protection, and women development are my advocacies since I became a politician. I saw the chance to serve the women of Argao through this program,” she added.
At least 20 handloom weaving machines worth P 825,000 were given out by the Department of Trade and Industry as part of President Benigno S. Aquino’s livelihood program to bring inclusive growth to the marginalized sectors.
The vice governor recalled that sometime in 2014, a group from Argao led by Vice Mayor Stanley Caminero, now the town’s presumptive mayor, visited her office with the proposal to revive the town’s weaving industry.
“After that lone meeting, everything just fell into place. The DTI came into the picture as well as the Department of Labor, and now we have this program,” she said.
In the early 1900s, Argao had developed a flourishing weaving industry. Barangays like Cancainap, Tulic, Lamacan, and Canbanuan were among the places actively producing a hand-woven fabric called ‘hablon’. But the number of fabric weaving practitioners have reduced as the years went by.
Alarmed by the possible demise of Argao’s cultural heritage, concerned residents and some town officials joined hands to keep the weaving industry alive.
At the forefront is the CTU – Argao campus, which provides technical knowledge and supervisory skill to help preserve, enhance and promote its weaving industry. It also housed the new 20 handloom weaving machines.
By adopting a product development strategy, DTI regional director Asteria Caberte sees the weaving industry in Argao as a profitable enterprise that will help uplift the lives of the poor.
Caberte expected the increasing interest in fashion clothing made from ‘hablon’ materials to boost the demand for handwoven fabrics.
In addition to fashion products, ‘hablon’ can also serve for crafting shoes, bags, and other accessories.
Last year, fashion designer Dexter Alazas showcased handwoven fabric outfits in the ‘Dalagang Argaoanon ug ang Hablon’ beauty pageant.
CTU tapped the assistance of the Junior Chamber International – Metro Cebu Uptown, a non-government organization that promotes social and economic development for the underprivileged, to help market their products.
At present, CTU has employed 20 weavers and 20 assistants. At least 50 suppliers of Abaca, one of the materials used in weaving, also benefited from the program.
In another Shared Service Facility turnover ceremony, DTI handed out 34 sewing machines used for making rugs and pillows to the Talisay Women’s Federation.
The sewing machines, with a total cost of P 628,000, are expected to provide a livelihood for the association’s 6,000 members from the city’s 22 barangays.