Weavers at the Rurungan sa Tubod weave the Abaca fibers using traditional wooden looms.

The Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation, Inc. (RSTFI) is partnering with the local Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to reach out to grassroots communities in Palawan to help them become “market-ready” and competitive as suppliers of raw materials, handicrafts, and skilled workers.

Rosal Lim, RSTFI business development director, said during a Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-hosted Kapihan on Friday that the collaboration with the DTI is helping them access communities with craft products through the Rurungan Sunday Market Program every first week of the month.

“What we are learning now is, now that we are now sustainable, there are so many other craft communities that don’t have the same platform that we do. So what I’m doing now with DTI is I’m trying to access these communities and we’re trying to help them through the Rurungan Sunday Market,” Lim said.

The Rurungan sa Tubod store which sells handwoven products made from pineapple, abaca, and silk fibers. The Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation, Inc. (RSTFI) has now partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to access grassroots communities in Palawan to help them become “market-ready” and competitive as suppliers of raw materials, handicrafts, and skilled workers. (File photo courtesy of Rurungan sa Tubod)

She said the weekend market program is being developed to make grassroots communities become market-ready to be competitive as suppliers or sources of artisanal products and crafts, skilled workers, and raw materials.

Lim said they are currently supporting communities in Bataraza, Narra, and Taytay.

“What we do is every first Sunday of the month, we invite them to come to the Sunday market and we also invite other businesses that are also enterprising. So, what does this do? You have a community of vendors who are turning to be business savvy who know what is marketing, branding, and costing, and then you have the grassroots communities who have an incredible amount of skills,” she explained.

Communities from the southern towns of the province are invited to participate in the Rurungan Sunday Market together with other local businesses in Puerto Princesa city for business-to-business (B2B) service with a small module in business.

Rosal Lim, RSTFI business development director, explains to the members of the media the goal of the Rurungan Sunday Market to help grassroots communities in Palawan.

Through the modules and product development workshops during the Sunday market, participants are encouraged to put value and pride into their products.

The workshops also help communities to be business-ready for other businesses.

Lim expressed optimism that through the Rurungan weekend market and the help of the DTI, the RSTFI can find people that would buy products directly from the communities.

Emma Quillope, the local DTI chief trading industry development specialist, said their agency is visiting different towns to look for craft manufacturers.

Neck scarves made of silk at Rurungan sa Tubod.

Aside from the crafts, they are also going down to the barangays to establish the supply base for the sustainability of raw materials.

“Umiikot kami sa mga municipalities at talagang hinahanap namin ‘yong mga manufacturers ng mga products… dahil sa lack of supply ng raw materials. Umiikot din kami sa mga barangay para ma-establish ‘yong supply base na ma-sustain ‘yong raw materials,” Lim pointed out.

The establishment of the supply base for raw materials will help businesses that would like to expand yet cannot commit to the demands due to the insufficiency in the number of materials.

Quillope added the DTI is also looking for pineapple fiber producers in Bataraza, which is known for its pineapple plantations.

“Basically the market is to create a platform to connect people and to learn from each other,” Lim said.

She said that when they started they had two communities working with them, but because of the Sunday market, the number has increased now to five communities.

RSTFI’s advocacy is to train women to have sustainable livelihood activities and to become entrepreneurs themselves.

“Lahat ng products na ginagawa nila, ginagawa namin na finish products tapos ibinibenta. The profit we get from that goes back to our projects at sa foundation,” Lim added.

Lim said in Palawan, the RSTFI is working with Gakayan Handicrafts in Bataraza, while in Narra, they have access to the communities of The Ladies Association in Mariwara and Pandan Association, mat or “banig” weavers in Brooke’s Point, and the basket weavers in Aborlan.

She said the weavers are using pineapple and abaca fibers from Palawan while they are using cotton and silk from Iloilo and Bacolod.

Lim hopes that Bataraza could fill the demand for the supply of pineapple fiber this year.

Lim said they worked with Philippine companies and resorts for their products.

Aside from the local market, they are also collaborating with some foreign partners to bring local products to the international market.

“’Yong pinagkaiba ng Rurungan market is ‘yong main goal kasi namin is to create inclusive market spaces. The market space should include established businesses and businesses that are just starting, especially those who don’t have access in the city that’s why the DTI is playing a very important role… kasi sila ‘yong may database o sila ‘yong may contact sa mga grassroots communities that need this platform,” she said.

Rurungan Sunday Market opens every first Sunday of the month at the Kusina ni Tito Ernie from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.