Partner Community: Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples Organization


A view from the barangay hall: The hazy mountain at the distance is Mt. Ugo

Lusod-Ambasa is one of two communities residing on the foothills of Mt. Ugo, the second highest mountain in Benguet. Predominantly from the Ibaloi and I’wak groups, these people have been living in relative isolation from the rest of Itogon because of lack of roads that would connect them to the other towns.

To further their self-governing capacity, they have continuously relied on their own Council of Elders to settle disputes and to maintain peace in the community. Also, with the help of the Itogon Community Service Center of the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), they have legitimized their ancestral domain as their own with the documentation of their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP), and the issuance of their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title. This is a laudable feat, considering their population density and geographic constraints.

To get to the nearest town, they would have to walk along the mountain trails for 3-4 hours. This is how Ms. Osana Sadiao, one of our women weavers, visits town several times a week. Serving as a volunteer barangay health worker, she is keen to gain more training to be employed, in time, as a full-time barangay worker. To augment her income from swidden farming, she joins other women in producing colorful pouches, carefully woven with the namesake of their ancestral domain.

Beautiful pouches from Itogon

Beautiful colored pouches woven from recycled plastics

It is difficult for these women, for now, to produce these pouches for a bigger market because a large part of their time and efforts are dedicated to their primary source of livelihood, which is farming. Another factor is the difficulty of making these pouches, which they find time to make at night when the children are already asleep; or on Sundays which is everybody’s rest day.

For now, Ate Osana says, knowing that people appreciate their work is more than enough for them. She hopes, too, that they get more opportunities to turn this hobby into something big. And to say “big”— that’s what they have to let us know soon.

These pouches have proved popular with our partner gift shops and through exposure in small events. Since these are difficult to make, supply is limited. To reserve please send us a message 🙂