Survivors helping survivors through PagBAG-o project

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Monday, December 9, 2013


WHAT’S in a bag? – Chances.

PagBAG-o Project gives everyone a chance to change the lives of the Sendong survivors in Xavier Ecoville.

It is a livelihood initiative of the Xavier Ecoville Multipurpose Cooperative (Xempco) launched on November 30.

It is a creative collaboration between the unemployed housewives of Xavier Ecoville who produce bags and the Xavier University students and alumni who make the design and lead the marketing efforts.

Bag when it all started

Xempco’s sewing cluster underwent skills-enhancement trainings funded by Give2Asia on June where they were taught pattern-making, cutting and sewing. After initially producing a hundred bags, their outputs were assessed. A follow-up training was then conducted to ensure quality workmanship of their products.

Trainer Genadith Lloren Borres, a marketing alumna from Xavier University (XU) who sold bags for their feasibility study during her 4th year in college, taught them how to make katsa tote and sling bags, which were more usable and market-friendly.

“They started making simple designs, kanang linear lang, like tote bags. Then later on, they tried the sling bags which are more complicated. Nag lisod sila at first. But they didn’t give up. They persevered to finish their output,” she said.

Gen said that the mothers could be taught easily and are evidently creative. They also have high hopes for their sewing enterprise.

“Ingon sa mga nanay they need to help their husbands earn additional income since they have just transferred to their new houses. Daghan sila plans for their family. They need to start again from scratch, so they grab every opportunity to earn,” she added.

She worked with Philip Robert Flores a Masters in Business Administration freshman in XU who is also The Xavier Ecoville Project’s Enterprise Development Officer.

Philip oversees the production and pushes the bags to the market. He maximized the use of social media and released the bag designs online.
The PagBAG-o Project Facebook page proved to be effective as it sold over a hundred bags in the first weeks of putting it up.

With the help of the XU Eco Society which has volunteered to help market the bags, PagBAG-o Project is now making its way to the trend watch.

‘PagBAG-o na’

PagBAG-o Project translates to project change. It gives everyone a chance to change the lives of the Sendong survivors in Xavier Ecoville.
Every peso spent for buying the bag spells out a difference for the survivors.

The proceeds not only go to the sewing cluster but are coursed through the Xempco, of which more than half of those in the Xavier Ecoville community population is a member of.

This way, help is able to reach more people, creating greater economic impact.

Philip says, aside from employment, PagBAG-o Project has helped the women in two other ways.

One, it gives them a diversion from remembering their traumatic experiences.

“One mother told me nga its one way nga iyang malimtan iyang (Sendong) experience. Kun naa ra daw siya sa balay, wala siyay gihimo, ga balik2x experience of Sendong. Through PagBAG-o Project, na-tagaan siyag work, katong mga memories nga bad, gaka tabunan na,” he said.

Two, it gives them an opportunity to bond as neighbors. “Na tagaan ug opportunity ang other mothers nga maka bond ang uban nga mothers. Though isa ra sila ka community, dili kaayo sila ka-close. With PagBAG-o Project, nga uban sila sa isa ka workplace. na ila nila ang matag us,” he added.

The designs featured in the first collection are reflect the various battle cries of XU. It includes XU’s Ruby Anniversary theme “Forming Leaders the Ateneo Way,” endorsed by no less than the university president himself, Fr. Roberto C. Yap SJ.

He is joined by the dynamic PagBAG-o Project ambassadors who represent various fields: XU Medicine Student and former Miss teen Philippines Maxine Monasterio, XU Law Student and youth leader Ernesto Neri, XU Central Student Government president Princess Ubay-ubay, XU Crusaders basketball team captain Kim Labitad and XU security officer Rosanna Lapiz.

Survivors helping survivors

PagBAG-o Project speaks a lot about the Xavier Ecoville community’s resilience. About only two years ago, they lost their homes and belongings to tropical storm Sendong.

In that time, various organizations helped them rebuilds their lives and start anew.

Now that they have moved on from the disaster, they are paying it forward the goodness they have experienced.

This time, they are now the ones on the giving end.

They decided that proceeds of their bag sales will be given to the XU Tabang Visayas relief operation for Yolanda survivors.

What’s in a bag? – Experiences.

“We want them to carry their experiences of hope and change, the experiences of dreaming better lives for their families. And with their outreach for XU Tabang Visayas survivors, we hope the same spirit of hope will be carried by the PagBAG-o Project bags to the hearts of the Yolanda survivors,” Philip says.

(Xavier Ecoville is a resettlement community for Sendong survivors in Brgy. Lumbia. It is facilitated by Xavier University, the community members, the local government, donors and other partners for a self-sufficient and value-laden community.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 09, 2013.

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