Women Farmworkers Earn Through Creative Art During Pandemic

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This health pandemic has brought an opportunity for women farmers in Barangay Caninguan to be creative and earn from their hand-painted tote bags and paintings.

“Our target was to do creative recovery mainly focusing on women farm folks in Barangay Caninguan,” said Raz Salvarita, an Ilonggo artist who co-founded the Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives based in the barangay in December last year.

Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives is a group that focuses on “bridging creativity in rural communities”.

Salvarita, in an interview Friday, said that they were able to avail of funding under the “Staying Resilient Amid the Pandemic in Southeast Asia Small Grants Program” of the SEA (Southeast Asia) Junction, a non-profit organization based in Bangkok, Thailand for them to be able to pursue a workshop with women farmers in the barangay.

“We started with the four-day workshop in December, basically creating a space for women to come and also to have a sense of safe space to do their creativity,” he said.

At the start, there were 32 women participants but 22 dropped out.

Ten stayed composed of a barangay health worker, vendors, and vegetable farmers, and were committed to pursue the social entrepreneur program on making tote bags and paintings, Salvarita added.

Since it’s the first time for some to paint, Salvarita and his partner Elle Divine taught them how to do it, as well as helped them with product development ideas so they can come up with their own original designs.

They also attended webinars for further exposure.

He said that they focused on kindness as the theme of their design to promote compassion amid this pandemic.

From January to February this year, they worked on their tote bags and paintings. They were able to come up with 40 pieces of tote bags, 10 paintings, and 10 fiber self-portrait artworks.

Each bag costs between PHP1,200 to PHP1,500 and paintings were sold at PHP4,000. They were sold as far as Manila and United States.

Seventy percent of the price of the painting goes to the artist while 30 percent to the group. For the tote bags, a percentage goes to each crafter while the remaining amount is divided to allocate for materials and their collective money, Salvarita added.

“We have given them the inspiration to think that aside from their skills in livelihood, they can actually pursue creative work and feel relaxed doing their work,” he said.

Currently, the same group is working on more bags and paintings, this time with the plastic-free and animals that are being protected at the Mariit Wildlife and Conservation Park in Barangay Jayobo, Lambunao as their focus.

He added that they would like to sustain the group and eventually also involve other barangays.

“We focus on this pilot group because later on we can develop their skills and become facilitators with other barangays and with other organizations that are interested to invite us,” he said.

Later on, the group would like to work with young people and also involve men and not just women.

Meantime, those who are interested to order may get in touch with the group through instagram@baryobalangaw or their Facebook page Baryo Balangaw Creative Initiatives. (PNA)

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