December 4, 2022

We must keep on celebrating the hands that weave, cook, knit, crochet, bake, plant, and clean for this world.
I have not taken time to swivel around and appreciate these wonder women of the world. It is already the end of the Women’s Month and I dally at the task thinking March will hold on until I find my chance to sit and talk with them again. Here’s to the women stories at the SM “Women at work” market at the atrium. Cheers!

Twinkle Carpio was the spirit behind the Everything Pine counter. She brought the products of the Itogon women who lived along Ambuklao Road in collaboration with their manufacturing group. Theirs are the hot pads made from pine needles gathered from under the trees. She smiled, as she assured me that no trees are felled or harmed to produce the baskets and household items. She explained that the company was collaborating with the women to incorporate their pine creations with the handwoven materials for bags, earrings, clips and accessories in the product line. This company puts some quality control in common kitchen things.
Kape Balai by Faith Magsino is the first stall to greet you as you enter the atrium. I failed to get the name of the young girl who told me that the coffee sold in beans, ground beans, and drip bags are a pandemic home online business endeavor. There are Sagada, Kalinga, and Benguet brews available. The only physical store was this one at the mall that included different types of flavored tea. Accessories for the full enjoyment of the coffee and teas are sold too. The tea strainer, coffee press, and honey dipper stick are available here. But my curiosity was poked by the dried orange slices that were in plastic sachets as fruit tea flavor, I suddenly remembered how I enjoyed the hibiscus and the bugnay teas I once encountered. I should’ve asked her name because this young lady entertained me with herstories.
Christine Gamong-e of the Blessed Women’s Association of East Quirino Hill was full of enthusiasm as she told me about the foot rugs and handwoven items on the table. This group of women upcycle the already secondhand clothing materials in the wagwagan. It is truly inventive to further recycle the remnants or damaged items sold by the kilo from these imported discarded clothes from all over the world. I often wondered what the businesswomen did with those items that could not be sold because of tears or holes and I got my answer in neatly woven foot rugs and similar objects. She went on to tell me they were able to invent a shaggy version using discarded school uniforms from the different public schools in the city. One is awed at what 35 women can imagine and do when given the opportunity.
Anita Pahigon is the energy behind Gameng (which means treasure in Kankana-ey), the stall with plants, fresh vegetables, and papaya from Sablan, Benguet. Expect the products to be tributes to the agricultural wealth of the municipality with turmeric, coffee and the common preserves. But Anita is the gem in this nook. She is more enthusiastic about her plants that contribute to wellness. The garlic vine for tea is medicinal, as she prodded me to search the internet to find the uses. She pinched a leaf to let me get a whiff of the garlicky scent and declared that it is good for coughs, colds, flu, and pneumonia. The preparation is also used as an anti-pyretic, anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. She added the mayana or coleus blumei that is used for pain, sores, swelling and cuts but most of all for painful menstruation. This healing energy should make this corner an interesting stop for a chat or to buy. She made me giggle when I asked her the meaning of her product line, Liblong. It is the local spelling of livelong because she was beaten to the registration of the trade name.
Charity Lopez behind Amparo’s Apothecary table was entertaining too. She told of Amparo Magallanes’ magic behind the home concocted medicines and healing preparations. She guaranteed the efficacy of the products based on the feedback from the happy and satisfied users. She noted the beard enhancer for grooming and thickening of the facial hair. I joked about the possibility of using it on the scalp and forehead and her quick answer was that there were different hair types in our body, but it might work for some. There are interesting products in this line that should be good conversation pieces. One should try “I Am Spray No.1, I Come Before No.2” toilet spray which is their version of the U.S.poopoori. This should dispel the awful smell and keep your sin a secret for the next toilet user. Perfume and sprays take a natural scent of vanilla and olive here. Apothecary means the one who makes drugs and medicines. Charity says that the other stores are at Camp John Hay and at Porta Vaga Mall.
Jillbe Calumpiano was the man at the House of Yogurt (HOY) nook of the Calajo group. This was the only stall with snacks, jams, coffee, cookies, breads, wines, and a gamut of goodies made locally and brought from different parts of the country. There was etag from the Masferre group and goat’s milk caramel that were among the Cordillera products. He said that there were silver baskets made by a group of women at Dontogan barangay assisted by the Rotary Club of Baguio North that were also being sold to celebrate women’s month. These products are also available at HOY in SM.

There are many more of her stories here. Tipping my hat off for all the women’s hands that keep this world turning. Thank you to the ladies and gentleman who made my day.

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