Mauraro Handicraft Producer Association (MAHAPA)

The Mauraro Handicraft Producer Association (MAHAPA) of Mauraro Barangay is a model of success for producer associations. One can easily see the visible benefits of cooperative work and fair trade. Originally a wholly owned private enterprise, founder Salve Patriarca was convinced by the Community Craft Association of the Philippines (CCAP) to relinquish personal control of her supplier-buyer handicraft business and allow it to become an equal stakeholder cooperative association.

  • Location: Guinobatan, Albay-Bicol Region
  • Founded/Organized: 1994
  • Type of organization: Cooperative
  • Products: Abaca and sinamay novelty items
  • Number of workers: 40 families
  • Male/Female: 50%

In this region of Luzon, handicrafts, especially those made of abaca and sinamay, are a primary source of livelihood for families. This was apparent from a recent visit (Nov 2002) into the rural barangay where it was possible to see many families actively engaged in some phase of production of abaca materials or crafts.

In 1994 MAHAPA began as a member association with 28 member families. Over the years it has grown in both membership and production activities. It is recognized as one of the major contributors to the prosperity of the community as a whole. At the present time, 40 families are involved in the association in four barangays but as many as 3000 people in the area are involved in handicraft production. MAHAPA has a long and close association with CCAP, which is one of PREDA’s partners in Fair Trade. They have received extensive design assistance from CCAP.

A line of abaca and sinamay angels has been developed by association members which is separate from the CCAP design-assisted items. It is with this line of products that that PREDA has been requested to help market and give capability building assistance.

Because of the success of the cooperative, the members have been able to construct a cooperative office/center. It is a modest workplace that serves as a meeting place as well as a storage area for raw materials and a staging area for the finished products being shipped to Manila. The area is often a riot of color as it also used for drying dyed abaca fibers. In order to have quality control on the material used, as well as being able to purchase materials in bulk, all raw materials are given to the producers in lieu of cash advances.

he production of abaca angels is truly a family affair as each member constructs a different part of the angel. In one area of the home, the angel body is fashioned and stiffened with glue, in another room a woman makes and attaches the head, while still another young woman shows her skill and dexterity in assembling the final angel. Although made predominately by women, a couple of the men in this cooperative have shown a particular talent for fashioning the sinamay angels.

In this particular rural barangay, long work tables (2 feet x 30 feet) and long wire drying racks are visible near almost every house where abaca mat is being made. Colored abaca mats stripe the landscape as people work in various stages production. It is evident that the production of handicrafts is a primary source of income in this area and that fairly traded products have made a significant difference in the lives of these producers.

Level of PREDA partnership: Marketing