Returning to my hometown, Nabua, in March 2013 for my dissertation fieldwork for my doctoral degree in Anthropology, I took up the challenge to rebuild the bamboo business once operated by my grandparents which I renamed as Nabua Home Industries (NHI). In July 2014, the revived, but much smaller enterprise, was re-introduced at a regional showcase of products called the “Best of Bicol.” The NHI presented some of its “classic” products such food bowls, fruit trays, hampers, as well as a few new ones, such as storage boxes made of bamboo and other indigenous materials like abaca (Manila hemp). At another regional exposition – this time, a fashion show – NHI showcased the flexibility that bamboo is known for through a new line of bags. In February 2014, NHI finally opened a small crafts shop in Manila that featured redesigned baskets used in everyday life such as the bayong (basket for shopping). This time, NHI tried to fuse commonly used weaving patterns (sala-sala or plaiting) with those freshly introduced by the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) such as the islet, the diagonal, and other weaving patterns, and to bring back disappearing complex braids such as the uru-uluypan (caterpillar) that were once the typical lashings using in closing the rims of bilaos (flat round basket for winnowing rice) and other commonly used native woven wares. The kararaw that was resold by NHI transformed into a set of three hamper that uses the DTI-introduced diamond weave. The bamboo strips used for these new kararaw were dyed in electric blue. The finished baskets used as linings bags made of recycled flour sacks. NHI took a step into the field of sustainable home furnishing by incorporating recycled textile in our products. Diverging from the business model that the old family business once undertook, and realizing the associated unsustainability of exportation due to unpredictable market demands and its adverse effects on the environment, the revived NHI took interest in small-scale production which now only targeted a growing local community that followed developments in Philippine hand-crafted products. NHI found clients among local customers who were looking for affordable and Philippine-made alternatives to the imported plastic products that are dominant in the local market.
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