The 1st Bariw Stakeholders' Forum organized by the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) Regional Satellite Office VI with the theme "The Welfare of the Philippine Fiber Farmers, the Coconut Farmers and the Indigenous People (IPs) is our Utmost Concern" at Pandan, Antique last November 25, 2021 was filled with eagerness and enlightenment.
Most fiber farmers used to be able to support and send their children to school because of the earnings they made from fiber products and crafts.The fiber industry has been thriving for years. The government authorities have been finding ways to support local farmers and weavers. Although the industry produces yields which are inedible, they are equally important for humanity and the economy.
However, with the pandemic, their livelihood halted because tourist spots closed, leaving them with a question, "who would buy our products?" In light of this, the event became an avenue for the farmers to voice their concerns. In return, PhilFIDA provided technical information about the fibers and introduced opportunities for the farmers. Technical assistance, particularly training for weavers, fiber production and processing are in line for next year.
Every bag, placemats, and baskets woven by Bariw farmers from Pandan, Libertad, and Nabas, Aklan, is a story of hardwork, perseverance, determination, and success . Each thread extracted and processed connects everyone in the community. With creativity and sustainability as their strength, local farmers and weavers will collectively rise against all odds.
This is the story that needs to be heard. Stories of people who have experienced the walk. They’re the people who tilled and plowed the land and harvested the fruit of their own labor with their own two hands. The boom in the fashion industry would have not been possible without our fiber farmers and Indigenous People. With that, it is time to go beyond and learn the stories right from the roots.