DON MARCELINO, Davao Occidental (DSWD XI) – Living in the hinterland Sitio Kimonsol of Barangay Nueva Villa, Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental is the family of Joel and Analiza Geverola.  Mr. and Mrs. Geverola are known for their skill in nito weaving, a preserved tradition of many Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines that celebrates a unique and sustainable form of art.

The Geverola family was recently named Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya of Davao Occidental and Regional Pantawid Pamilya ALAGAD (Affirmative and Laudable Advocacies on Gender and Development) ng Pagbabago Awardee.

The Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya aims to recognize family-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program who maintain strong family ties, demonstrate positive Filipino values, and create a positive impact in the community where they reside

The ALAGAD award on the other hand, is given to families from among the Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya finalists whose members are living out and championing better gender relations in their homes.

To date, there are 254,843 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Davao Region. 

Nito weaving

Joel and Analiza were joined in marriage on May 14, 2000. They are blessed with seven children. Due to the adversities brought by poverty and the remoteness of their home, the two were not able to finish elementary school. But what they lack in educational achievement, they make up for their giftedness in the art of nito weaving. The two learned to craft baskets out of nito vines since they were children. This skill had been passed down to them from their parents. 

Other than preserving this unique artistic tradition, nito weaving is a means of livelihood of the Geverolas to support their big family. The family also utilizes their inherent craftsmanship in building their own home. The family’s house structure is made of light materials such as nipa, bamboo and round timber.

Nito weaving may be a good source of livelihood but the income is not stable and constantThere are times we don’t receive orders for our nito products,” Joel said.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the couple still sought alternatives to sustain the needs of its large family. They ventured in livestock raising such as pig, chicken, goat and cow. Joel also accepted a job as laborer on days when they are not weaving nito. But despite all of these hard works, the difficulties brought by the constant demands of life are still too tough, especially in supporting the education of their children.

Some opportunities

In 2012, the household was registered in Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). “Our family is very grateful of the cash grants we receive from the 4Ps program. Because of this, we are able to provide the needs of our children in school and are able to pay the school fees on time,” Analiza shared.

Analiza, being the grantee, diligently attends orientations, meetings and all developmental activities conducted under the program. In every Family Development Session (FDS), she learns new things that she applies in her daily living.

But one day, fate put their family to test. On their way to acquire nito for a prospect buyer, the couple and four children got attacked by a swarm of bees in the forest which led to their confinement in a hospital. “In order to pay for our huge hospital bills, we decided to sell all our farm animals and consequently, our nito weaving also halted,” Joel recounted. But this trial did no discourage them. Joel and Analiza’s family rose again. Full of hope and optimism, the family resumed their basket production using nito.

The couple also exposed themselves to several skills enhancement programs, trusting that such could help improve their lives.

“I attended a skills training in ketchup making. I was also given the opportunity to participate in a micro-enterprise development and basic employment skills training. Finally, I became a member of the Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in 2016. I used the money from the seed capital fund amounting to Php 10,000.00 as capital for our nito weaving venture,” Analiza recounted.

Last 2018, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) conducted a four-day Training on Nito Weaving in Barangay Nueva Villa, with Joel and Analiza as resource persons. Earlier, DTI attested that the nito products crafted by the couple are of good quality. Jose F. Villanueva Elementary School also plans to tap the couple to train its pupils in nito weaving.

Hard work pays

With the family’s efforts and with the aid of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, all seven of the Geverola children are attending school. Presently, the eldest daughter, Angelyn is set to finish Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at John Paul College, Davao City. Angelyn is also a working student. She finished high school through Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS). Despite the hardships in life, she never stopped schooling.

Poverty is not a hindrance to pursue your dreams,” Analiza said.

The family’s secret to success is hard work.Through hardwork and their enhanced craft, family members were not only able to enjoy quality life, they were also able to share their craft to other people in the community. Through their endeavour, the practice of treasured weaving tradition could be passed on to generations to come, prospering the art of the B’laan Indigenous community in the process.

The Geverola family continues to aspire greater dreams, such as building its own space for production of nito-woven materials and at the same time, use the space to display their products. All of these dreams are possible, through resourcefulness and diligence. Our family has proven through our experiences that we can achieve success if we work harder together,” the couple declared. (DSWD)