ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The weaving industry of the Yakan tribe is slowly coming back up after the COVID-19 pandemic and the strict implementation of the lockdown restrictions forced their stores to close.
Fourth-generation weaver Evelyn Hamja said they survived the lockdown by relying on relief goods given by the local government.
Now, most weavers are shifting to online selling as one of their ways to nurture their business.
But Hamja admitted that they lack the knowledge and experience of using social media.
"Yung may mga anak na marunong sa social media kagaya ko doon po sa anak ko nagpatulong. 'Yung ibang weavers binibili ko na lang finished product nila, ako na lang makipag-communicate sa kanila," Hamja said.
(Those with children who are knowledgeable in social media, we ask them for help. For the other weavers, I just buy their finished products and be the one to communicate with them.)
The most saleable products of the weavers nowadays are face masks made of Yakan cloth.
The designs of the face masks they produced are inspired by geometric patterns and nature. However, due to limited flights, it takes about one week before the products reach Luzon, Visayas and other parts of Mindanao.
"Tangkilikin po muna natin ang sariling atin lalo na sa mga indigenous products. Kagaya namin mga katutubo, wala kaming ibang inasahan kung 'di ito lang," Hamja requested.
(Let us support our own indigenous products. We only depend on this.)