A hardworking Magsasaka Siyentista (MS), Marbelyn Narso from Sitio Alimbo-Ilaya Barangay Buenavista, Nabas, Aklan is destined to be a bariw processor a lucrative enterprise. She has embraced bariw processing for the last 33 years. Even though it was hard, Marbelyn looks back with pride. She’s grateful that at a young age of 12 in 1978, she was introduced to a unique opportunity of earning a living.
Bariw processing is a decent job. Since she was young, Marbelyn always strives for excellence. That’s why she decided to join the pool of MSs of the Western Visayas Agriculture Resources Research and Development Consortium with Aklan State University as Partner Member Agency.
Three decades have passed. She has mastered the processing of bariw products – hats, mats, placemats, wall decor, flower vases and tissue folders to name a few. Due to her experience, she used to be a trainer in Nabas and neighboring town of Ibajay. She has even reached Bohol to share her expertise.
For raw materials, she uses bariw green leaves. The thorns and mid-rib of the leaves are removed, a process which is locally known as pagriras. Then she hangs them to air dry for about two to three days and exposes it to sunlight for one to two days.
Locally, these steps are termed as paglamayo ag pagbuead. After which, the dry leaves are softened thru pagpaepag (pressing), have it rolled, then stripped using a stripper. The size of koehad (strip), Aklanon term for sliced strips, depends upon its use. Then the processed bariw leaves are now ready for weaving. As a general rule in processing products, a bundle is composed of 32 pieces of green bariw leaves.
Hat Making - Marbelyn produces two hats in a day at 8 working hours daily. A hat which costs P25.00 is made in 4 hours giving her an income of P50.00 in a day. Out of experience, Marbelyn deducts P5.00 as cost of materials and P20.00 for labor. She earns a net income of P25.00 per bundle of bariw leaves. For 20 working days with two hats made per day, 40 hats are produced in one month.
Bag Making - Marbelyn is being assisted by the Department of Trade & Industry in terms of designs. A bag which measures 4 x 15 x 12 inches can be produced out of two bundles of bariw. A bag is sold at P150.00 each. The expenses are P10.00 as cost of materials and P20.00 as labor cost, she earns a net income of P120.00 for one day. She can produce an average of one bag per day or 24 bags for 24 working days per month. Notably, a bag maker earns P3,360 per month.
Coin Purse - Marbelyn makes four coin purses out of one bundle of bariw leaves. At the prevailing market price, a coin purse costs P20 or for a total of P80 for four pieces. After deducting P5.00 for raw materials and P20.00 as labor cost, she earns P55 net income. Speaking thru experience, Marbelyn said four coin purses could be made in one day or a total of 96 pieces per month.
Placemat Making - In a bundle of bariw leaves Marbelyn produces four placemats which she sells at P25.00 each. After deducting P5.00 as expense for raw materials and P20.00 for labor she earns P75.00 net income daily. For 20 production days, 80 placemats can be made for a month.
There’s a sure market for processed bariw leaves in Boracay and in Kalibo, given the chance, overseas by orders. For Boracay alone, on a weekly or biweekly basis, she delivers a total of 60 bags, 30 hats and 24 coin purses.
The immense success of Marbelyn can be credited to her experience. Having been in the processing industry for three decades, she has seen the local economy go through the lowest and the highest.
But she is optimistic. "Every Filipino has the skill to emerge triumphant. It all depends on how badly you want to excel. I tell my trainees to do good." She enjoys spreading the good word on bariw processing because she believes it’s a job where even women at home can earn a living and still take care of her family. (BY Sally Villasis /MP