By Connie B. Destura
BATO, Catanduanes (29-Oct-2012/PNA) – The art of quilting which at the start has lured women here as a pastime craft is now a P5-million industry with a wide market abroad.
Introduced about 10 years ago, the craft is now drawing many households in the municipality and its neighboring towns of Virac and Baras not already as a hobby but a good alternative source of income.
The couple, Mark and Pura Teocson who both hailed from the island province but are now established businessmen in Hawaii, United States, introduced the craft to a group of housewives in the municipality during their vacation sometime in 2002.
Quilts are made from patches of fabric sewn together using tiny stitches to make finished products like bags, bed spreads, wall hangs and wallets, among other handmade novelties which are themed using appliqués or patterned patches of fabrics.
The designs applied by crafters in the province originated from the Teocsons and thus appeal to the Hawaiian market.
Quilting and appliqué can be done in two ways – by hand or by machine.
Nilda Traquena of Barangay Cabugao, who pioneered the craft and had established a micro-level quilting company here, said they do it using the hand sewn method making it really labor-intensive.
Traquena had around 70 workers mostly on job order basis. A worker earns an average of P4,000 monthly.
Initially, there were three companies that took interest in the craft after attending the demo conducted by the Teocson couple.
Nizzach Craft based here, Nicon Enterprises in Virac and and RBM Collection in Baras, started their production with the Teocsons providing the ready market in Hawaii.
The pioneering entrepreneurs realized that, as start ups, their production skills were not as efficient as they would want it to be. They produced good products but they were not effective overall.
Knowing this, in 2003, they decided to embark on a study tour in Pampanga and Bulacan where quilting and appliqué is an established export industry.
Since then, the quilting industry in the island province flourished on its own, penetrating more barangays and even enticing students.
Today, there are five companies in the province producing quilted products and employing around 350 workers mostly here and in Virac and Baras towns.
How the products are made is somewhat interesting. The jobs are contracted out to households making it a community-based industry with a designated coordinator.
Through this system, quilting becomes a collaborative homework for families involved –a mother may start working on a product which may be continued by her children and sometimes finished by the husband depending on their availability and skill.
The job then helps to glue the family closer together, contributing to better community building, according to Traquena.
In Legazpi City, the home of the regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), its regional director Jocylyn Blanco on Monday said she had observed how the small quilting industry in the province is making an impact in the communities.
Realizing its potentials, Blanco said she readily agreed to provide funding for skills training in quilting and appliqué in the province during her visit late last year.
Since then, a series of trainings realized through DTI funds were conducted in six barangays of Virac, the capital town.
The training provided an addition of 159 workers making quilting now a P5-million a year industry.
“Quilting is a passion and the chance of being able to help a lot of families including students who persevere in their studies, give the best satisfaction of all,” Blanco said. (PNA)