The abaca industry has always been the major source of income and employment and foreign exchange earnings in the Philippines. Today, the demand for abaca products and the raw material itself has expectedly grown due to environmental concerns such as forest conservation. Abaca has been a feasible alternative to wood as a raw material for the production of pulp and paper.
Today, many industries in the world are now going back to the natural and environment-friendly materials. Abaca fiber is also used to produce furniture and fixtures, handicrafts, textiles, other industrial products as well as products in the fashion industry like abaca clutches, abaca wallets, native hats and wallets, and many more. Thus, there is a limitless opportunity for abaca.
Davao Oriental in the Southern part of the Philippines is a top producer of abaca fiber in the region. Many of its products are raw abaca fiber and are used to create new and unique products.
According to the 2008 record, 7,452 hectares are planted with abaca in the province, benefiting more than 2000 farmers in the land. The abaca farmers in Davao Oriental extract the fiber from their harvested plants and sell these raw materials directly to the different traders. These are then brought to the city of Davao and to the different parts of the country to be processed into different products according to demand.
Originally, these raw materials are woven to make cloth for the natives of Caraga called “dagmay” and worn during the times for their ancestors. Today, it has evolved with the trends and different innovations. Now, they are converted into coin purses, fashion bags, clutches, fashion accessories and statements, and houseware.
Little did we know in the beginning that these raw materials would turn out to be beautiful native bags and abaca products. Truly, with enough patience and creativity, one can put a seemingly waste material into something very useful.