BAYONG PAGASA. We have a veritable mountain of newly-made bayongs here at Rural Rising. They smell like you would not believe. Just arrived from our impromptu factory in Luisiana, Laguna. After having so many members ask so many times, we revisited the idea of using the bayongs only for Crate Hopes. We shall sell them separately, a new SKU at RuRi. If it would create added incomes or even new jobs in Luisiana, why not? With the cancelation of that town’s annual Pandan Festival due to COVID, they need this. You see, the pandan weaving industry is quite dependent on the myriad bibingka stalls lining the town’s peripheries. With no tourists coming to take away bibingka in cute bayongs, two local inter-dependent livelihoods, native food and native packaging, virtually died in this pandemic.
Andie and I initially thought that selling Crate Hopes in these bayongs would be enough help but come on, how many Crate Hopes can we sell? How much help can we give? We watched how these bayongs are made, it’s not easy. First, the harvesting, which is not for the faint of heart. The pandan tree protects itself with razor-sharp thorns and there are snakes protecting their nests among the dried pandan leaves. The children and older folk who harvest pandan leaves should always be aware of where they thrust hand or leg. The leaves gathered and transported home on carabao sled, its time for the next step, the “hinihinikan” or removal of the thorns. They use a especially-made curved knife for this. Next the “lilinasin”, stripping the leaves to lengths of equal sizes using another bladed contraption. A careless moment, your finger could find itself in it and cut to size too. A day of sun-drying follows before the leaves are ready for the “iluhan”, a wood-and-stone press that brings them to the right thickness. The most labor-intensive part is the last, the “paglalala” or weaving where the most skilled, usually the oldest woman, takes thirty minutes to make one bayong.
We managed to organise the unemployed women weavers/farmers there to work at a home factory—really just an unused back porch—to create as many of these bayongs. We’ve even allowed ourselves to be persuaded to invest in an iluhan, an inelegant but highly effective piece of machinery from the Middle Ages. We’re even training a couple of previously disinterested teenagers, now enthusiastic night shifters, to learn the craft. How’s that for preserving it for the next generation?
So for these three weeks, our little pandan army has been able to make 500 bayongs. They’re here now at RuRi House. Two sizes, big and medium. We’re happy for you to have them for 100, regardless of size. Here is how they look like. We hope that you would admire the skill and patience of our weavers. We pray that we can create something lasting for them, even after this pandemic.
Warm regards everyone. Those members interested to make practical Christmas Baskets with these, please say “MINE” and the number of baskets you want to take and in which sizes. A proof of payment with PM would seal the deal. Just this 500 bayongs for now, two weeks waiting time for the next batch.
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