With the many possibilities you can discover with abaca, there is no question why many ventures into business with it. Bicol is the largest producer of abaca in the Philippines which is why many abaca enterprises are in Bicol. Abaca has helped people start enterprises close or right at home, and be able to serve locally and internationally.
Albay Agro-Industrial Development Corporation (ALINDECO) is an outstanding example of a Bicolano abaca enterprise that caters to the whole world. ALINDECO processes abaca into pulp. Abaca pulp is used largely for specialty paper. The pulp is also used for food-safe paper which makes it HALAL-certified.
Aside from ALINDECO, there are 38 other abaca enterprises in Bicol as of 2015 according to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFida). These enterprises produce abaca products such as bags, hats, furniture, baskets, scrunch, novelty items, and rope. Abaca fabrics like sinamay are used to make fashion items, and home decorations as well. The pulp is also not the only abaca product of high demand to the world. Even crafts such as bags are sought after by the Japanese. Japan has a big appreciation for items and other products made of natural fibers. Abaca seems to be a favorite for bags. Even Japan’s Yen banknotes are made of 30% abaca.
Now, how has abaca helped these enterprises in Bicol flourish? As previously mentioned, you can stay local with abaca when you are in Bicol. The abaca is harvested right here in the region. Logistics will be cheaper as the raw materials will not have to be imported from farther places. And at the same time, these enterprises are giving livelihood to local citizens, and inviting workforce from outside Bicol.
Tourism also benefits from this. Bicol has beautiful places, delicious food, and many fun activities, but abaca enterprises offer something tourists can take with them home to remind them of Bicol. Abaca enterprises offer novelty items that definitely feel like Bicol and are made Bicolano. Philippine Rural Development Project efforts in Catanduanes aim to produce more abaca at a reasonable price and make sure that the abaca is not bought at prices below the market price. We can see that abaca is intensively being revived as it has seen a minuscule decline.
Catanduanes further promotes abaca in all its beauty with the Abaca Festival. The strength of abaca represents the tenacious spirit of the Catandunganon. This opens opportunities for people to start even small with their abaca business. The Catanduanes Abaca Festival is held every fourth week of May by Provincial Ordinance No. 021 Series of 2015.
The future holds a bright path for abaca enterprises in the Philippines especially in Bicol. The demand for abaca internationally is growing. This can be an opportunity for Bicol abaca enterprises to grow and expand their variety of products. Together with promoting culture and tourism with crafts, other enterprises can start processing abaca pulp and export it. Bicol is already an abaca hotspot in the Philippines but one international giant, ALINDECO, is not enough to cement our place in the abaca market. A healthy pool of competition within Bicol will push us higher. With large factors like geography on our side, Bicol can be the major exporter of abaca products to the world. That is when we could say Bicol is on top. Right, now abaca is growing appreciation even more towards that path.
Whether small, medium, or big, abaca enterprises have surely found an opportunity and took it. They took the chance to be able to promote and earn off something local while benefiting one’s hometown. All of these opportunities were laid out by the industry of abaca farming in Bicol. It is hard to go wrong with something as simple yet versatile as abaca.
- Auditor, J. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://www.philfida.da.gov.ph/index.php/12-licensed/22-licensed-abaca-processors
- Republic of the Philippines Regional Field Office No. 5 San Agustin, Pili, Camarines Sur. (2019, June 10). Retrieved from http://bicol.da.gov.ph/rfo5newweb/wb-consultants-commend-progress-of-prdps-abaca-enterprise-in-catanduanes/
- Unknown. (2013, December 31). Bicol pushes for abaca commercialization. Retrieved from http://bikolreport.blogspot.com/2013/12/bicol-pushes-for-abaca-commercialization.html