WHEN he was a barangay councilor, Barangay Captain Edwin Quiapo of Tungkop, Minglanilla was made chairman of the council’s committee on women.
Quiapo’s guess is that the former barangay captain didn’t expect him to do well in women’s affairs.
Now, the women’s organization he helped grow is manufacturing bags made of recycled trash for export, as one of the barangay’s livelihood activities.
For her part, Barangay Captain Annabelle Semine of Ward 3 provided an outlet for students and out-of-school youth to discover their talents.
They, too, created accessories from trash.
It has often been said that the Chinese word for “crisis” bears a remarkable similarity to the word “opportunity.”
These barangay captains are transforming difficult conditions in their lives to provide opportunities for the youth to tap their talents.
The creative outputs of teens and homemakers are on display in the Minglanilla Trade Expo, which ran from Aug. 17 to 22 in the town plaza, as one of the activities in their fiesta.
In Quiapo’s community, the Tungkop Women’s Organization (TWO) has made bags, wallets and earrings made of laminated sacks and pouches that used to contain oil, shampoo and snacks.
Made by around 80 members, Quiapo said, these bags, earrings and wallets have already reached markets in Japan, Spain, Belgium, Germany, US and Korea.
This endeavor came through the help of Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center (SPFTC). SPFTC is helping TWO in capacity-building and in acquiring equipment like sewing machines, as well as finding links for market development.
Geraldine Labradores, SPFTC chairperson, said that TWO is one of those that stand out among the women’s organizations in Minglanilla.
She said TWO already has the capacity to produce and to market. It has a sustained local market, like the micro-finance company, a school and recently, a famous chain with outlets Manila.
The organization, with the help of SPFTC, is now gearing toward sustainable and regular markets abroad.
Labradores said TWO’s main challenge is the need for a new design that will be appreciated in shops globally.
For craft materials, like eco-bags and other eco-products, to gain a following abroad, these must be of consistently superior quality, she said.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its shared service facility (SSF) program, will provide TWO with equipment to process coconut meat for the production of virgin coconut oil.
DTI will also provide a meat cutter, cabinet dryer and grinder for the coconut shells and a carbonizing drum to produce charcoal from the shells.
Quiapo said they have yet to come up with a business plan, one of DTI’s requirements.
“They (TWO) already met with DTI. We will soon come up with a memorandum of agreement between TWO and SPFTC. The training will be in September and before the year ends, TWO will be selling its desiccated coconut to SPFTC,” said Labradores.
Some of the other items displayed in the fair may not be ready for export yet.
But 15 youth facilitators in Ward 3 said their organization is working to transform the character of persons they work with, including street children.
Facilitators received training from the church to provide religious and social intervention among youth, said Barangay Captain
“Sige ta’g yawyaw sa gobyerno. Pero wa ‘tay nabuhat alang sa ikaayo sa gobyerno (We often criticize the government. But we have not done anything to make it better),” said 22-year-old volunteer facilitator Charles Paran.
In the barangay, Simene acts as their “mama and the participants are encouraged to treat one another as siblings.
Participants meet every Friday night.
On Saturdays, they have film-showing sessions and group discussions where they explore solutions to individual problems. In one of their art activities, they created decorative items from trash, which were among those on display during the trade fair.
Simene said their materials recovery facility (MRF) is their source of trash. Bottles and plastics are directly sold to buyers, while the rest are transformed into decorative items.
During vacations, participants attend team-building and summer workshops.
With the help of Association of Barangay Councils- Minglanilla President Manolo Delgado and the Province of Cebu, Simene once organized a tour of Camotes for some street children. She believes this was part of the reason gang activity and vandalism has abated in the community.