Fifteen men and women vegetable growers in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur who are members of Barangay Malaya Farmers’ Association were trained on bamboo basket weaving and crafting in line with the livelihood training program of the DENR-R1 under the on-going Eco-Tourism development Project of the Bessang Pass aimed to capacitate stakeholders towards helping in the promotion of its ecotourism potential.

Bessang Pass which is an iconic landmark between the Tagudin-Cervantes road connecting the Municipality of Mankayan, Benguet and other parts of Mountain Province, is being visited by an average of 1,500 visitors per month. For. Biado, OIC-PASU of the protected area said “It is hoped that through the training, the PO will be able to develop and establish an alternative livelihood from bamboo weaving and crafting wherein their products will be displayed and sold at the Information Center of Bessang Pass”.

Ingenious locally-made bamboo products such as baskets and novelty items are attractive to tourists and visitors would further boost Bessang Pass, poised to be an eco-tourism hub in the Ilocos Region.

The hands-on demonstration on bamboo basket-making was handled by Ms. Marissa Ondes of the Abut Weaver’s Association in San Fernando City, La Union. Mr. Piliano Beniesan, the 91-yr-old bamboo weaver who volunteered in teaching the women participants the initial steps of bamboo weaving stated that bamboo weaving and selling of products such as labba (native container), baki (chicken cage) and other native bamboo products has helped him provide additional income for his family.

He then enjoined the member-participants to attend the scheduled PO meeting after which they will continue with the basket weaving/crafting to practice and further hone their skills with the the end goal of coming up with baskets and other novelty items to be sold.

The training on June 22-23, 2016 was sponsored by the DENR-CENRO Tagudin in partnership with the Watershed and Water Resources Research Center (WWRRC)-Region 1 Ecosystems Research Station (R1ERS). Estrella E. Patrimonio and Diosdado A. Estigoy