Women weaving peace

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By Gingging Avellanosa-Valle

Bahin sang Bubay

Sunday, June 1, 2014


SOMETIME in 1994, a group of five women residing in General Salipada Pendatun, a swampy municipality located along the Liguasan marsh in the province of Maguindanao formed the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) under the Department of Agriculture’s program for rural improvement. The RIC started with only 15 members who were all farmer-mothers. Using the Php500.00 membership fees collected from each member, the cooperative supplied food for the canteen of the employees of the municipal hall. The Php500.00 contribution by each member also served as their capital build-up.

As their cooperative grew in number, they accumulated a total of Php5,000 capital. Members started to ask for loan to buy and sell fish in the market. Members were allowed to borrow money equal to the amount of their capital share. No interest was collected on the loans; the condition was simply to return the amount they owe in one month.

Following in February 1996, the women registered the RIC with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) as Women’s Rural Improvement Club Consumers’ Cooperative (WRICCC). Now having 25 members, the women started to engage into food catering for all seminars and training held at the munisipyo. All members worked together in the catering business where 10% of their net income went to the cooperative and the rest was shared among the members.

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Then sometime in 2000, the Maguindanaon Development Foundation, Inc. (MDFI) provided Php150,000 worth of machines and tools, i.e. six sewing machines, two machines for doing embroidery, and six frying pans for the processing of “tungaw”, a delicacy. In addition, the members were provided skills training on bookkeeping. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 12 also provided them with a machine for paper-making.

Much later in 2009 the women’s cooperative started their handicraft-making project.

Bai Sarika Pendatun, who currently chairs the Women’s Improvement Club in Barangay Pendatun, saw a television show demonstrating how to make bags and wallets from water lilies. This inspired her to ask support from government agencies to fund their project. In 2010, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Design Center of the Philippines through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Peaceful and Resilient Communities) (Pamana) program have provided the training and funding aid to strengthen their livelihood project.

Moreover, the Armm Provincial Government gave them Php200,000.00 worth of capital and OPAPP granted them Php500,000 under the Pamana program. They used the funds for operations and purchase of equipment such as sewing machines, water hyacinth flattener, and sole cutter for slipper making. The members who were first trained also trained other women in the community.

All these good things came upon the women of SK Pendatun not only because they have creativity and the will to help themselves, but also because of the support that they got from different sectors. This goes to show that women can.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 02, 2014.

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