Abaka products make gains

>> 3/29/2009

Abaca is the One Town One Product (OTOP) of Natonin, Mountain Province. According to Benjamin Gayudan, DTI's Senior Trade and Development Specialist, people here did not know that the plant they call “fuwi” or what they call “saba chonggo” is abaca. There is also the belief that monkeys were responsible in spreading the abaca in the forests of Natonin.

People then made ropes out of the “saba chonggo” to tie cattle. It was in 1999 when an entrepreneur, Arnold Timmangao stripped fibers and made ropes for sale during the trade fair. DTI brought fibers to Fiber Industrial Development Authority (FIDA) for evaluation as a material for paper making. FIDA confirmed later that it is abaca.

Arang Multipurpose Cooperative initially consolidated the marketing of the abaca products in Natonin where government assistance was channeled. Eight years after, there are now four abaka stripping industries developed from members of Arang MPC.
Some 200 jobs were created with 78 direct workers and 15 indirect workers as abaca farmers, abaca converters, and handicraft producers. Workers are found in the barangays of Saliok, Banawel, Natonin Poblacion, Banao, Kadaklan, and Lunas. At least 40 workers from Bicol are employed where they also teach the art of abaka stripping to Natonin farmers and strippers.

Estimated production of abaka is at 150 tons planted in 900 hectares with current production capacity of 40.9 tons per year.

Abaka products including abaca fibers, twisted abaca fibers such as ropes, bags and fashion accessories generated sales at P1.35 million in 2007, Gayodan said. Abaka fiber sells at 70 per kilo. Natonin abaka farmers sell more of abaka fiber rather than bags and accessories. Making fine abaka by-products is a craft that Natonin craftsmen still have to learn, he said. Natonin Fiber Crafts and Trading is attempting to go into production of fashion accessories such as bags.

The municipal local government unit of Natonin provides sponsored product launching while the provincial LGU provided fund assistance for technology development.

Project coordination and marketing promotion is facilitated by DTI. Technology development is also extended by DTI, FIDA and Central Cordillera Agricultural Program (CECAP). CECAP provided a stripping machine and a warehouse for the Natonin abaka workers.

Nearby Barlig specializes in rattan made backpacks called pasiking or sangi.


Local woven products make gains

>> 3/22/2009

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE is a Weavers’ Paradise. Finely woven products include the traditional tapis for women’s apparel and the traditional wanes (G-string) for men. These products have designs of lizards, diamonds, and eyes. Other woven products are bags, purses, pouches, wallets, blazers, skirts, and wall decors. Weavers are found all over the ten towns of Mountain Province especially in Bontoc, Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, Sadanga, Barlig, Natonin, Paracelis, Tadian, Bauko with different designs and highlighted colors.

Paracelis has its unique Balladang woven materials resplendent in red and bright pinkish colors accompanied with small white beads. Sagada weaves, just like traditional Bontoc weaves have bright colors of red and green in their woven products including tapis, bags and wallets. Sadanga highlights the blue color. Sabangan and Bauko specialize in table linens with shades of orange, blue and white. Besao produces woven wall decors.

Sisters of the Immaculate Church of Mary taught women in Bauko and Sabangan how to do loom weaving. They produced table linens that were exported in the 70’s. Andrea Bondad who pioneered the famous Sagada Weaving also learned weaving skills from the Foster Family in Lepanto, Mankayan Benguet in the late 1960s. A number of weaving enterprises now flourished in Sagada to include Kamowan, Sagada Mountainside Arts and Crafts, Sagada Weaving and Souvenir Shop, Sagada Indigenous Handicraft, Sagada Kindasan Souvenirs, Tam-aw Madongo Handicrafts and Sagada View Souvenirs.

Other weaving small scale enterprises are Asudan Weaving in Bauko, Lourdes Loom Weaving in Besao, and Paracelis-based Baladang Handicraft, ATT’s Handicrafts and Paracelis Weaving.

Meantime, the faltering village weaving industries in Samoki and Can-eo in Bontoc, Sabangan, and Guinzadan in Bauko, Botigue in Paracelis, and Lama in Tadian were revived through skills development given by TESDA, DTI, and DOLE. Institutional development is specially provided for Guinzadan weavers with support from DTI, Cordnet and DOLE and additional set up financing from DOST.

There are now at least 17 firms including four weaving villages in Can-eo, Samoki, Guinzadan and Paracelis.

Weaving created at least 435 jobs as weavers and retailers.

A major patronizer of locally woven products is the people from Mountain Province themselves. Woven materials are especially worn as office uniforms. Other sales are generated during trade fairs and the Lang-ay Festival every April, aside from sales in souvenir shops in Sagada, Bontoc, Paracelis, and Sabangan. The sale of woven materials generated at least P27.8 million in 2007.

While this is so, DTI notes that one of the major problems of weavers is that they have difficulty in procuring raw materials. Design and product diversity is another thing.

Marie Aranduque, proprietor of Sagada Weaving notes that weavers need to come together in order to address their commonly felt concerns and meet the demands of consumers as a bigger volume.

Ms Cecilia Dalog, the provincial Governor’s spouse, promotes Weaves and Designs, an initiative to promote the province’s woven products, one way through fashion trends. This event will specially be highlighted during the Lang-ay 2009 Festival April this year.


Local wines make gains

>> 3/17/2009

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE farmers produce hectares of rice and corn; tons of vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, green onions, bell pepper, squash; baskets of fruits especially citrus and bananas; sacks of legumes; loads of sugarcane and sacks of coffee beans. Out of these agricultural produce, micro entrepreneurs make these into by- products including processed jams, jellies, butter, fruit and rice wines, lemon pies, pickles, noodles, patopat, linapet, roasted coffee and muscovado sugar.

Craftsmen also make creations such as pottery from clay, furniture from pine wood, woven products from weaving, hand made paper, and iron works. Other artistic creations include hand-painted T-shirts and video production.

Fruit,rice and sugarcane wines

The first Lang-ay festival in 2005 ushered the making of Lang-ay wines. Lang-ay wines are fruit wines initially produced by wine makers of Bauko led by Sister Shirley Agoo. About 60 women ventured in commercial wine making in Bauko and grouped themselves under Our Lady of Lourdes Cooperative. Today, there are nearly a hundred wine makers in the province from Bauko, Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, Tadian, and Bontoc. The wine brewers are organized as Mountain Province Wine Processors Association (MPWA) and branded their product as “lang-ay fruit wine”. There are now a number of lang-ay wines of varied flavors and labels sol d with prices at 120 per bottle. Wine products reach as far as Baguio and Manila.

Different labels include Gabay, Antina, Besao Sunset, Seeka, Gulibangbang, Carolina Sorrel,Gaefer’s,Club 35+, Maureen, Da mascene, Victorianne, Keba-asan, among others. These wines are processed from plums, bignay, wild berries, roselle, duhat, guavas, rice, and citrus fruits.

Wine is slowly brewed for a period of at least one year from fermentation to aging. The wine when bottled should reach at least a minimum at 11% to 13% alcohol by volume and is classified as red table wine.

Most lang-ay wines are processed at home and compose a special home activity of the housewife. Although there is a pending need for a collective stainless tank to process lang-ay wines to bring standard alcohol content and ensure clean, clear, and safe products. Quality control appraisal of locally made wines is one major function of the Department of Industry to ensure alcohol content, safety, and clarity of wine products who trained some winemakers to do the appraisal.

The provincial government initially gave P100, 000 for bottling wines to the MPWA. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also gave support amounting to one million pesos for a stainless tank, jars, and sugar to the winemakers association. Now, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is planning to build a science and technology center which includes wine processing among its features this coming year.

The traditional tapey of Sagada and Besao is also commercialized and packaged as rice wine like the Piitik of Sagada. Fvayash, the sugarcane wine from Sadanga is also sold commercially but of rare supply. Fvayash is called basi (sugarcane wine) in Guinaang and Mainit, Bontoc. Basi is also rarely sold as it is more locally used the whole year round in Guinaang and Mainit. (See separate articles on sugarcane wine making in separate articles)

Fruit wines are available in almost any souvenir shop in Sagada, Bontoc, and Bauko. Fruit wines are specially sold at the Pasalubong Centre at the second floor of the Multipurpose Building in Bontoc.

Culturally, wine is a vital component in agricultural and social ceremonies of people from the Mountain Province. Tapey is offered during ceremonies such as begnas (agricultural festival) in Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, and Bauko. Tapey is also a ceremonial wine drank in eastern Barlig and Natonin during weddings and other celebrations. Basi is a cultural wine in Bontoc especially in the sugarcane producing upland barangays of Mainit and Guinaang. It is drank during special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations.

There are now 65 registered small micro enterprises in wine making as of October 2007 from only two in 2000. The Department of Industry- Mountain Province lists that as of 2007, wine making created at least 450 jobs with 275 direct workers and 115 indirect jobs with work as fruit farmers, retailers, processors, laborers and label designers.

Total investments registered at P5.2 M generated P8.2 million from sales of lang-ay wine in 2007.

The Department of Industry provides technology research, quality control appraisal and marketing of lang-ay wine through trade fairs. Trade fairs include the recent Mountain Province Trade Fair sponsored by DTI last December 16-20, 2008 at the capital town of Bontoc. The Provincial Local Government Unit also provides referrals and marketing of products at the Pasalubong center aside from assistance on packaging and provision of planting materials.

DTI sees the need for further improvement and enhancement of labels, packaging and packing. Certification from the Bureau of Food Administration (BFAD) is needed for these wines to gain further acceptance and popularity.
Source: Lang-ay Magazine 2009


Making money from coffee

>> 3/08/2009

Coffee Arabica is one of the most promoted products of Mountain Province. This favorite drink found special promotion in the Lang-ay Festival 2008 and the up-coming Lang-ay 2009.

For the 3,000 coffee Arabica farmers of the province, coffee growing means additional source of money for the family.

Coffee parchment costs P105 to P120 a ganta. A ganta weighs 2 and half kilos. A ganta of coffee green beans costs P200 per ganta. A kilo of roasted and ground coffee powder costs P300 per kilo. What more, a kilogram of in takkin di mutit costs P700 a kilo.
Coffee plants can be grown in backyards and in mountains in between pine trees. With the Mountain Province being a mountainous place with a suitable elevation and temperature for coffee growing, coffee production is a potential source of livelihood.

Coffee is also a very good source of income for coffee shop owners.

Sagada for one is a tourist town which has a high demand for coffee with hot steaming coffee costing P15- P25.00 per cup.

Nearby Bontoc which is equally a tourist and business center, and the capital town of the province hosting government offices, thrives with a number of coffee shops. There are at least 21 coffee shops within the heart of Poblacion Bontoc alone.

With one mug of coffee costing P6.00 to P10.00 and an average of at least 1,714 coffee mugs consumed in a day, a coffee shop owner makes money. The Department of Industry-Mountain Province survey shows at least 12,000 cups are drank in one week translated to at least P120,000 income in a week to nearly half a million pesos in a month.

Survey shows one coffee shop owner makes use of at least 2 kilograms of coffee powder in a day.

With one kilogram producing at least 144 cups, this is translated to at least P1,440.00 income with one cup costing P10.00 each.

At least 120 kilograms of roasted coffee per week is consumed adding to some 6,300 kilograms of roasted coffee per year, DTI says. This means P1.89 million income for coffee producers and P9 million for coffee shop owners in a year.

Yet, with Mountain Province people being a coffee drinking community along with its visitors, its coffee produce is not enough to fill local consumption. Coffee shop owners buy coffee powder and coffee beans from Kalinga, Benguet, Baguio, and Batangas.

One major aim of coffee farmers in the province is to produce at least enough supply for Mountain Province, Ligaya Poled, High Value Commodity Crops (HVCC) Coordinator for the provincial agriculture office said. This observation was noted among farmers during the Coffee Training and Fair held February 2007 and Coffee Summit held recently this January 2009 in Sagada.

While this is the case, coffee traders enticed by the aroma of Sagada Coffee, come from Baguio and Manila. Demand is high for coffee Arabica but supply is small.

Coffee products are currently sold as ground coffee, as green beans, and as parchment coffee. Sales generated P2.3 million in 2007 and P .307 million in the form of roasted coffee, DTI records say.

For more info about Coffee Arabica in Mountain Province, read more of it in


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