, OCTOBER 16, 2010 (STAR) CONSUMERLINE By Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) Updated October 12, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0)

T here’s so much more to the bayong (handwoven native bag) than meets the jaded eye. Believe it or not, it can be our secret weapon to fight global warming!

On the eve of the “Global Work Party,” dubbed 10/10/10, a battle-ready troop of climate defenders stormed a public market in Caloocan City armed with their good old trusty bayongs.

To mark the global day of action on climate solutions, members of the Ecology Ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan, the EcoWaste Coalition, and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives converged at Langaray Public Market in Caloocan City to rally everyone to rediscover the use of the lowly bayong.

In one robust voice, the groups declared: “Bayong, the lowly handwoven native bag made of buri palm leaves or other locally available plant materials, is the ecological weapon of choice that Filipino consumers from all walks of life should make the best use of.”

Civic leader Romy Hidalgo of the EcoWaste Coalition asserts, “We can break our obsession with plastic bags by switching to the ever versatile bayong that our elders were accustomed to before our society fell in love with anything convenient and disposable, to the detriment of our fragile environment.”

He adds, “Let the bayong be our ecological weapon of choice as citizens, while we ask our political leaders to initiate even bolder measures, globally and locally, to fight climate change.”

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. commended the Langaray market vendors for heeding the call for ecological stewardship and encouraging consumers to drop the ubiquitous plastic bags. The good Bishop Iñiguez was all praises for the bold collective move by the Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa (SPTT) to observe every Monday beginning October 11 as “No Plastic Bag Day” to curb the unrestrained consumption and disposal of plastic bags.

Bishop Iñiguez sends this urgent message, “Let us take pride in using the bayong in the palengke and even in shopping malls, knowing that we are saving the planet, ourselves, and the future generations by cutting our craving for plastic bags and the ensuing emissions.”

Switching from plastic bags (which are petroleum-based products) to bayong, according to the groups, will help in attaining the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which scientists set at 350 parts per million (the current level is 390 ppm).

Government data show that plastic makes up 15 percent of Metro Manila’s solid waste, with food and kitchen waste accounting for about 45 percent; paper, 16 percent; glass and wood, nine percent; and other discards, 15 percent. Last year, plastic bags constituted 300,176 kilos or almost half of the garbage retrieved from shorelines and waterways during coastal cleanup operations.

And now, read this: It’s designed for the earth, these bags called Rula paperbayong made of magazine pages, laminated, and then hand-sewn for durability. While helping the environment, these eco chic bags have helped empower a community of women who don’t just weave bags, they also weave dreams.

“These bags are basically designed to empower the mind to think of limitless possibilities,” says corporate training specialist Leah Galisim. “The process of making the bag empowers the mind to be more creative. I have ladies who did not even finish high school, but when taught and trained how to create a Rula Bag were empowered to be more creative. More than the financial rewards, it enhances their self-confidence. For the housewives in my community, it has given them not just a source of livelihood but a sense of purpose in life as well.”

Leah traces the history of the Rula Bag: It started as a training material to empower the mind to be creative and encourage employees in the workplace to manage company waste like paper more efficiently. It eventually evolved into a small-scale business that empowers, encourages, and trains women to be more creative.

Say hello to the Rula paperbayong, which is proudly made of the pages of magazines and telephone directories, and is water-proof.

Surely, there’s cash in trash. Today, Rula designs handbags, corporate giveaways, novelty carryalls, purses for fashionistas and corporate clients.

Roll over, plastic bags; here comes the Rula Bag!

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Find out what makes the Rula paperbayong chic at Call Leah Galisim at 09175562366 or e-mail

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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