Some of the recycled products from rags.

DAVAO CITY (DSWD XI) – When 99 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries completed the skills training on Rag Recycling Cum Production in 2014, there was no stopping them. They not only became producers but skills trainers as well as they eagerly transferred the technology to fellow Pantawid recipients in the city.

These active families in barangays Agdao Proper, Kapitan Tomas Monteverde and Paciano Bangoy, Sr of Agdao District here started off with a few kilograms of slightly used clothing from ukay-ukay as primary production material, a few homemade sets of wooden frames and some pairs of scissors.

Recycling is the process of converting scraps or discarded materials into something useful and beautiful. This practice has been used since the 1930’s when families had very little economic or material resources. Recycling doesn’t mean breaking the stuff but rather refashioning it. What is old is new again, but with a twist.

One of the values of recycling is its positive impact on the environment. Items destined for the dump are rescued and recreated into something functional.

For crafting such useful and attractive rags by-products like pot holders, door mats, foot rugs, pillow cases, clutch bags, purse, table runners, among others, the rag recyclers became popular and their number of customers rose. They then started receiving orders from the neighborhood, schools, stores and offices. Orders of a few pieces ballooned to volumes.

Group member Arlene Espina said the unexpected and favorable outcome prompted them to organize and secure a registration and accreditation with Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). “Responding to our need, Cecil Dayhon of DOLE then provided the orientation.”

From then on, the group of Pantawid Pamilya grantees became Pantawid Workers Association of Rag Recyclers of Agdao (PWARAGDAO) with Espina serving as president.

Still with the continuing technical assistance of Project Development Officer of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Marissa C. Vaid, the group collaborated with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through Provincial Director Edwin Banquerigo and Livelihood Department’s Ivy Uy who imparted product enhancement trainings to select members.

For their part, members who trained promised to share their skills competency with co-members.

Becoming entreps

The group availed the DTI package of assistance through its Small and Medium Enterprise Roving Academy (SMERA) Program. The collaboration provided them opportunity for venturing into new product designs and size variation of wooden frames; product critiquing; showcasing of products in the Mindanao Trade Expo at Abreeza Mall; and trainings on Advanced Rags Recycling and Product Costing and Pricing.

Meanwhile, PDO Vaid facilitated another skills training on Fashion Components Making cum Production. Using the goup’s DOLE accreditation, Vaid also helped them access 19 units of sewing machines for their business, increasing their production and enhancing product quality.

Since then, the ‘rag recyclers’ never failed to participate in any exhibit, bazaar or trade fair organized by DSWD or other agencies, Vaid said.

She said their products are also displayed at Tanoy’s, a popular local craft shop in the city.

“As we showcase our produce, we also receive more orders. We have become like small scale entrepreneurs. The demand for our products is high here as these are very functional and inexpensive.  Our partnership with DSWD and with other agencies enabled us to augment our income and improve our economic standing. We are overwhelmed with the trust they have endowed us. We are very ecstatic of this change which is definitely for the better,” Espina happily shared.

According to Vaid, there are enough institutions that can provide support in terms of financial or capability building.  “We just need to be resourceful and assertive as we connect and establish links with local resources. The possibilities are endless, we just have to seize them now. For its part, DSWD will continue to build up the group and access them to the right resources through our Sustainable Livelihood Program.”

Presently, some group members have diversified into Rag Dyeing while the rest of the members continue creating stunning serviceable stuffs out of rags for their burgeoning market, Vaid added. (DSWD)