In Damarinas Cavite, scraps of fabric have spawned communities of hardworking rag makers and families with added income. At the helm of this movement is husband-and-wife team Ranie and Haydee Villaruz, who found a fortune in basahang bilog (round rags).

In May 2016, TSPI’s Enterprise Development Services (EDS) was thinking up new community-driven projects when the idea of affordable, easy-to-produce rags from factories’ scrap materials came into the picture.

“We wanted something productive for our nanays (mothers) and their families — something that could make a massive impact without the need for capital,” shares Ressy Juico of EDS, who piloted the rag project in South Central area, mainly in Cavite and Batangas.

TSPI tapped Nanay Haydee and her husband for the new endeavor, given her existing rag business that started in 2011 with a modest P20,000 capital and a second-hand Hyundai van for deliveries. The couple sources their raw materials from nearby cities in Cavite and as far as Tondo and Taguig in Metro Manila, as well as Taytay in Rizal.

Today, their small enterprise is home to a total of 150 workers, more than 50 of whom are TSPI members who cut the leftover fabrics to the desired size, lay them out into a basahang bilog used in households, public utility vehicles (PUVs), and businesses, and get the final pattern ready for the couple’s five in-house sewers who can finish 200 to 300 rag bundles a day.

“This is a big thing for us and for all of them who would rather earn than do nothing at home,” says Tatay Ranie, who was a former computer technician before the venture.

Each rag maker earns about P10 for every bundle completed for final sewing. Imagine stay-at-home mothers, aunts and even teens on summer breaks from school can complete 20 bundles a week.

One Rag Project beneficiary is 27-year-old Jovilyn Molina Tala, a mother of two from Barangay Aguado in Trece Martirez who used to engage in direct selling before getting involved in the project.

Every week, the stay-at-home mom produces an estimated 50 bundles that translate to P500 in earnings. She works on the rags intermittently from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or in between household duties and tending to her two daughters.

“I use my earnings as baon (allowance) for my children in school and to pay for their school service,” she recalls. “I didn’t expect it, but we’re no longer short in our regular budget because of these rags.”

Her elder daughter is further proof of her homebased job’s impact. The little girl used to be part of the barangay’s feeding program, but now has a healthy weight because the family is able to give their children proper nourishment.

The prospects are just as rosy for the Villaruz couple, who have purchased a Ford Ranger as a second delivery vehicle and are able to subsidize their full-time workers’ house rent. They are eyeing a warehouse of their own to further grow the rag business.

“We go to bed at night happy that this isn’t just for us, but for our brothers and sisters who may be in greater need and who seek something to do in life,” Nanay Haydee says.

Text by Ms. Katt Pascual.  Photos by Mr. Revoli Cortez.

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