Helping the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) cope with the prolonged economic slowdown brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its Regional Operations Group (ROG) spearheaded by Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, has been dynamic and responsive to the needs of the sector equipping them to venture into opportunities fit in the pandemic crisis.
Consequently, DTI-Davao del Norte introduced to Gleizl Joy Cabahug Soo of Modishchey Creations the idea of producing reusable and fashionable face masks made of banana fibers. This is part of the office’s assistance to the company to sustain its business operation and to provide employment amid the constraints brought by the current situation.
Modishchey Creations came up with a line of fashion pieces using the banana fiber woven textile. This fiber is called “musa” that derives from the scientific name of banana. Using the musa fabric as the main material of the textile, Soo incorporated her creation with a sustainable textile produced by Davao del Norte’s Indigenous People (IP) women weavers as well as the prisoners or people deprived of liberty (PDLs). These banana fiber woven textiles are the output of DTI’s initiative last year, the training on banana fiber weaving among the IPs and the prisoners.
DTI has noted the primary aim of this project, which is to promote sustainable livelihood for the IPs especially among the prisoners who have no means of providing for their families.
Within a short period after its introduction to the market on May 8, 2020, a total of 60 pieces were already sold. Aside from this, Soo received an order of 1,000 pieces from Visayas and as far as the United States.
Soo’s new product line has initially provided jobs to seven tailors and 20 weavers. It is also expected to expand and generate more income for them as the musa fabric is keen on widening its market.
Meanwhile, DTI-Davao del Norte is committed to continue its support to the project, which is being seen to sustain the banana fiber production through the Department’s Shared Service Facility (SSF) program as well. Weavers in six communities in the different municipalities of Davao del Norte were already trained. They are now ready to be tapped whenever there is an increase in the volume requirement.
Apart from the face masks, Modishchey Creations has also created washable bags and fashion dresses featured during the 22nd Araw ng Tagum and the 10th Anniversary of the Fashion Designers Alliance of the Philippines in Taguig City. Further, with the encouragement of DTI, Soo filed its trademark application for MUSA Fabric last February 21.
The province of Davao del Norte is known as the “Banana Capital of the Philippines” since it is home to several major banana plantations and small producers. In fact, the industry is driving the export performance of the province. With the banana textile face masks and other MUSA Fabric products, the industry is surely adding more value, especially with the introduction of post-Corona Fashion. Moreover, it will also give an opportunity for additional income among weavers, designers and MSMEs.