UNKNOWN to many, the brooms that are sold at the Baguio City market are made from Sablan.
Aside from being the fruit basket of Benguet province, this town offers great deal of take home gifts (pasalubong) including its “walis tambo” (soft broom).
Sablan's soft brooms are made from tiger grass locally known as “buyboy” which is grown in the upland communities of La Union and Benguet. These are woven into soft brooms and sold in various colors to become a novelty item for visitors to buy.
Sablan agri-technician Rony Carlos said most cultivators do the weaving.
“The soft broom weaving passed to the next generation to generation until it was improved, adding there is an estimated of 400 cultivators of tiger grass especially in the barangays of Bagong, Balluaay and Pappa,” he said.
Carlos added that although colored brooms are not the main product of the town, these fetch a higher price of P200. The ordinary broom is sold in other markets for P120.
“It leads to more profit. The only problem also is the labor force but then when it comes to package of technology the color attracts and it is more expensive,” Carlos added.
Carlos said sister municipality Burgos in La Union (which back then was part of Sablan) also grows the same tiger grass variety.
Aside from Sablan, other Benguet towns who are also into commercial broom weaving include Kapangan, Itogon and Kibungan.
Tiger grass farming is also considered as environment friendly and is proven to rehabilitate degraded areas and reduce soil erosion in steep slopes; tiger grass is also utilized by farmers as fuel.
University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio professor and economist Corason Abansi said in a study that there are three major tiger grass producing communities: Bagulin, Burgos and Sablan.
The soft broom is a popular pasalubong item from Baguio City and may be bought at the public market.