Deep in the interiors of Barangay Gulayon in Dipolog city, Zamboanga del Norte, an old craft is kept alive: “nito” weaving.
Where nito vines are used to produce handicrafts such as pouches, bags, hats, baskets, and many others.
The customary trade continues to exist today courtesy of a small band of women of the Balabag Gulayon Women Weavers Association.
Aida Saldariega is the most senior among the weavers. At 72, her eyesight still serves her right. Working on nito ferns together with the rest of the women in the community — all belonging to the sixth generation of weavers.
She says they would personally go up the mountains to collect the vines themselves, to make sure they get only the best quality materials.
Their finished products were able to make the it to the shelves of “Boholana,” along Dipolog Sunset Boulevard and at the Pasalubong Center in Dapitan city.
Association president, Arlyn Pasok, says the community prides itself with the timeworn business, helping them to make ends meet and send their kids to school.
Until COVID-19 came along.
The pandemic forced them to move individually into different ways. To each her own.
At present, the women weavers continue with their needlework. At home, on their backyards, or on the streets.
“Kahit saan gumagawa sila. Kahit habang nag “Marites” gumagawa sila.” says Arlyn Pasok.