A rag doll story-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
ON ANY any given day, some elders are playing cards, if not drinking life away while little rascals are all over the place with their raggedy faces. This is how the world goes by in a standard Philippine slum area. But at least some dwellers somewhere think differently.
Instead of feasting over marital issues in the neighborhood, a group of housewives in Barangay Tisa in Labangon, Cebu City, thought of rag doll making as a productive alternative.
The Handcrafters of Mary Enterprise (Home) is a mini enterprise, which banks on the sewing knack of mothers to create homemade rag dolls for the arts and crafts industry.
The corporation had its small beginnings about two years ago when a certain Ate Isabel, warehouse clerk of Cebu-based creative social and cultural enterprise Anthill Fabric Gallery, made 10 rag dolls for the company and these dolls were immediately sold out.
“Rag doll making is in sync with our advocacy to rescue cultural degradation. Reviving homegrown skills such as sewing while giving back to the community is one way of delivering the thrust,” said Anthill co-founder Anya Lim.
The potential of ragdolls prompted Ate Isabel to conduct community trainings on rag doll making. Initially, 50 mothers were trained in Barangay Tisa but only four continued and formed Home, now Anthill’s urban sewing community. Currently, the group is composed of about 20 mothers between their early 20s and late 50s. Twelve of them are active and are led by Gelzy Edon as president, Penny Ludoc as vice president, Christy Morga as secretary, Nicolasa Briones as treasurer and Rosalie de la Peña as press relations officer.
At first, the doll prototype was patterned after Ate Isabel’s template until Home learned to be independent and experimented with new styles.
Depending on orders, a mother can finish two to three rag dolls daily through a sewing machine but a few still prefer hand sewing. Mothers used to patch dolls from old clothes and scrap fabrics and later on shifted to local factory materials.
From customized rag dolls sold in pieces, Home’s production is now in bulk mostly for corporate requests. The group has been accepting orders from several local and foreign clients and events.
“The orders are overwhelming. We didn’t expect the business to hit the market. We’re thankful to those who believed in us. We hope to expand our clientele and influence others (women) too,” said de la Peña.
Recently, Anthill forged a partnership with global development organization Plan International. Home rag dolls will be used as tools for Because I am a Girl, Plan International’s campaign on gender equality and lives transformation worldwide with young actress Bea Binene as among its Filipino ambassadors.
“We’re excited for Home’s involvement in the project. It’s another opportunity to showcase their competence and also promote goodness in a global scale. Meanwhile, we’re aiming to register Home as a separate legal entity. The demand for locally sewn products is there. Hopefully, Home will carry on,” Lim said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 17, 2013.