Former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and farmers in the remote village in Negros Occidental’s Isabela town, are making craft products for livelihood through training facilitated by the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), the organizer of the renowned Negros Trade Fair.
Since last month, about 100 of them, all from Barangay Riverside, have attended the product development and basic marketing workshop hosted by the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion at its headquarters in Barangay Libas.
“The aim is to equip them with skills to create marketable products and participate in prestigious industry showcases,” Sybel Nobleza, ANP external affairs manager, said in a statement yesterday.
The participants learned about crafting products from locally abundant raw materials, such as pandan, nito, bamboo, and used straws.
Pandan weavers have to present prototypes of their designs of eco-pandan bags for target customers such as wine producers, millennials and eco-friendly stores by the second week of January.
They learned to produce prototypes after they were introduced to product development and branding by Christina Marie Gaston, an international designer and chairwoman of ANP, who shared the journey of her brand, the Hacienda Crafts Company.
Nobleza, who discussed product screening and basic marketing, guided the participants on aligning products with customer needs and ensuring a compelling narrative behind each creation.
Acknowledging the challenges, she emphasized solutions, such as securing start-up capital, consistent market access, and protecting the identities of former rebels-turned-entrepreneurs.
Nobleza said they plan to introduce the product prototypes to the Pilak Awards Competition in preparation for the 38th Negros Trade Fair later this year.
In a statement, one of the participants, Nanay Adelfa, a 78-year-old weaver, said she is thankful for the opportunity to become an entrepreneur through the training workshops conducted by the ANP in partnership with the Negros Occidental provincial government and the Isabela municipal government.
“The ANP commits to closely monitor the product prototyping and organize further workshops,” Nobleza said.
This month, they will introduce training on food product development together with the Provincial Technology and Livelihood Development Center. (PNA)