>> Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rhoda Bondad-Aranduque and Sagada Weaving
Gina Dizon

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- (I remember Manang Rhoda: accomodating, kind, God-fearing, wise, strong and an independent woman. I dropped by one time two years ago at her house at Nangonogan to talk about Sagada Weaving which her mother, Andrea Bondad, started in the 1970s. I just came to know she died from a lingering illness last Sept. 23. May her kindness and strength be a source of inspiration for others to follow. The following is a reprint of a story following my interview with her first printed in Lang-ay Magazine, official publication of the Provincial Office, Mountain Province in December 2005.)

Distinctively Sagada Weaving, strong earth colors of green, red, and blue etched with designs of lizards and diamonds are immediately noticeable in durable and finely done bags and women’s apparel.

These finely interlaced bags and garments are marketed by Sagada Weaving at the tourist town of Sagada. For those who would like to have a feel of Sagada through these finely made textiles, visit Sagada and pick your choice from varied styles and designs of bags for different occasions to men’s and women’s woven apparel.

Bags come in different sizes and designs. The rugged belt bags of browns and green for the com and go individuals clutch bags for dainty women shoulder bags for one stop travelers and purses fit for various occasions.

Sagada weaving is also known for its back packs which come in earth and brown colors. Of durable quality, a traveling back pack could last for years still holding its firm texture and quality.

The 35-year-old enterprise also sells the traditional tapis apparel for women with distinct lizards and diamond shaped designs. This is a modified design form the kinayan tapis traditionally woven the backstrap way which has red and white stripes etched with diamond designs. Products mostly loom-woven are blankets, tapis and bags.

Proprietress Rhoda Bondad-Aranduque warmly called Manang Rhoda said Sagada Weaving’s products then diversified to bags and tapestries . The former fabrics of cotton and ramie now uses polyester acrylic with stronger thread.

What makes Sagada Weaving distinctive and sought for internationally is the “quality control we apply to the product, she said. Using Indo Phil fiber, finishing is finely ended with no loose threads hanging inside and out of the product. Durability of the material is obviously felt in the compacted firm interlaced bags and apparel.

“We design our products from suggestions which buyers recommended from other innovations in other countries which we consider relevantly marketable without sacrificing the indigenous label of the product, she said.

Having survived for over 30 years, would Sagada Weaving consider going international and hold display rooms in other places of the country and other countries as well? Manang Rhoda considers a conservatively wise outlook in marketing Sagada Weaving products.

With as many as 10,000 tourists who visit the tourist town yearly, Sagada Weaving products reach far. Tourist who come from the continents of Asia to Europe and North America, drop by the shop located at Nangonogan and see for themselves how actual weaving is done, as well as buying their choices.

A practical and ingenious way of marketing Sagada products, “we consider our shop in Sagada our main outlet, she said. It is important that the home-based industry is managed with enough products to sell, operating expenses and weavers are paid, and a modest income is derived, she said.

A source of income among full time weavers, this-home based occupation employ mostly women weavers from the immediate community of Sagada. “We also employed at least three handicapped who are still with us. Among them is a deaf mute who had been with us for 18 years, Manang Rhoda said.

She considers weaving a home based industry she took over from her mother Andrea Dalapos- Bondad to be shared to others. Some who learned the craft now operates Sagada-based Indigenous Handicrafts whose manager has been with Sagada Weaving for quite some time.

Other Sagada -based weaving businesses are Baliga Weavers, Kindasan Weavers, Dagdag weavers, Sagada Indigenous Handicrafts, Tam-aw Handicrafts and the Pide Weavers.


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