TACLOBAN CITY, Sept. 22 (PNA) — Mat weavers of Basey, Samar has finally gotten what they wished for – a flattening machine to quickly compress tikog grass and improve on the production of their end products.

The Department of Science and Technology through its attached agency Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), turned over on Wednesday the flattening machine it has designed and developed to the Basey Association for Native Industry Growth (BANIG).

BANIG Federation President Anita Ogrimen said they have been looking forward to the development of the machine since the idea was introduced in 2015, to scrap manual flattening of the tikog grass.

“The manual way is so laborious and oftentimes causes cuts and scratches for our weavers,” Ogrimen said.

Jonathan Puerto, deputy executive director of MIDC, who turned over the equipment, said the flattening machine will not only lighten the weavers’ load, but can increase weaving production by easing the process.

It was learned MIRDC will produce more flattening machines for Basey’s mat weavers. However, Ogrimen said that some initial number of machines will also be provided for Basey’s public schools to teach students skills under the K to 12 program.

Ogrimen said the machine will open up new opportunities for their weavers but also inspire students to preserve this age-old industry in their town. Mat weavers are from generations of weaver families in Basey and knew only how to weave for a living.

BANIG was among the trade fair exhibitors which showcased local products during the three-day CARE Philippines Trade Fair, Financing Forum and Business Enabling held in Tacloban City.

Ogrimen added that exposure to trade exhibits have helped increase their markets and made their products more competitive.

“It is a different experience for us that we ourselves are in the frontlines selling our products directly to customers,” Ogrimen disclosed.

Basey in Samar province is one of the oldest towns in the country dating back to Hispanic times and tikog (rush) weaving has always been its leading industry until Typhoon Yolanda practically wiped it out.

A value chain analysis done by CARE Philippines, an international NGO (INGO), served as the framework for interventions to help revive the industry. DTI helped the federation develop a proposal which the INGO then funded. (PNA)