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.
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At least 20 handloom weaving machines worth P825,000 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.
Argao is known for its flourishing weaving industry in the early 1900s. Barangays such as Cancainap, Tulic, Lamacan and Canbanuan were among the places known to produce hand-woven fabric named “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 said the growing interest in fashion clothing using “hablon” materials is expected to increase the demand of handwoven fabrics.
Aside from fashion products, “hablon” can also be used for making shoes, bags and other accessories.
Last year, the works of fashion designer Dexter Alazas, using handwoven fabric outfits, were showcased in “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, which have a total cost of P628,000, are expected to provide a living to the association’s 6,000 members from the city’s 22 barangays.