KAAYO Modern Mindanao (KMM), one of the enterprises showcased during the Great Women Asean Trade Fair, has been making Mindanao culture more known while promoting and helping Mindanao weavers with their livelihood.
Mary Ann Montemayor, the owner and founder of KMM, said they had been helping indigenous tribes with their livelihood activities for about two decades now but it was only last year that she and her daughter came up with the idea of KMM with the intention of sustainable livelihood for the indigenous people (IPs).
From August 25 to 27, the products of KMM was displayed at Penthouse, Rockwell 8 during the ArteFino, “an artisanal craft fair that aims to assist, support, and promote the Filipino artisanal community, by providing a platform for artisans to sell their goods.”
Montemayor said it was indeed a privilege to be among the artisans included as the exhibitors are often handpicked by the organizers. Around 70 exhibitors and artisans from different parts of the country also participated in the ArteFino.
“That is our offering to our indigenous people especially to their livelihood. They are depending on us on how we can mainstream them, how we market them because at the end of the day, this Kaayo is really a social enterprise,” Montemayor said.
Currently, KMM is working closely with the T’boli, Bagobo Tagabawa, and just recently the Mandaya of Davao Oriental. Montemayor said they are hoping to also work with the Manobo from the Caraga region.
“We tap them according to their strengths and we work on them on designs, we do product development for them, we guide them. But we respect their patterns. We just modernize them and turn them into products which we think can provide them livelihood,” she said.
Montemayor added Casa Mercedes, a fan manufacturer which had been in the industry for 65 years recently collaborated with KMM to use their fabrics for their fans which would be displayed in major department stores in Metro Manila.
Before, the IP weavers used to complete about 12 fabrics in a month. Now, with KMM intervention and guidance, they are able to complete 120 fabrics in one month as they have expanded and trained the other members of the community as well.
“This is not confined only to the older generation. We are also training the younger ones. We want the younger generation to carry on the tradition, the culture, and the tribes,” Montemayor said.
She also shared of a young T’boli daughter who was waiting to leave for work in Saudi Arabia a few months ago but was inspired of the livelihood that can be made in their hometown. Since then, she had never left and continued providing for her family without having to go abroad.