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Finally, raffia, a handwoven fiber from buli will now be sold in a box, not anymore in plastic or newspaper packs.

Hand woven raffia has since been a product that could not reach soaring heights like most of Bohol’s traditional and marketable crafts, a fact that marketing experts account to a poor market packaging.

“It’s quite a pity that a product that incorporates the long tale of traditions, industry, artistry and ingenuity of the Boholanos, could not get the right price it should command,” lamented Vina Antopina, information officer at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) here.

Raffia, a natural fiber obtained from “buri” palm, has been one of Bohol’s leading showcases of its hand woven industry, humbly emerging from a home based industry into firm-level production which has provided income and employment opportunities to the Boholanos.

Raffia fiber is stripped from dried young buri palm leaves, some dyed, others in their natural colors and woven by hand or modern looms.

Crafted with the skill and artistry of the weaver, a raffia roll is highly adaptable, durable and artistic, the Bohol raffia has breached out of its home-based loom industry to Bohol’s leading highly demanded green product, said Department of Trade and Industry trade and industry development specialist.

What is a pity is that; with all the time, toil and creativity incorporated in the weave, a raffia roll still could command a better price, Antopina said.

It’s sad that raffia; a clearly pro-environment product when sold, is wrapped in ordinary paper or plastic, that demeans its being a highly demanded green raw material for bags, fashion accessories and home accents, she said.

With the DOST, a technical assistance from its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP), the government agency looked into a country branding program for the Bohol raffia, focused on its packaging, said Engr. Marcial Tanggaan, during a chance interview.

Tanggaan, Bohol DOST head, believed that giving the raffia its right packaging and branding is just appropriate for a product that is very close to the heart of the Boholanos.

Considering the toil, artistry and skill that is interwoven in the product, the product should keep a niche as one of Bohol’s best, Antopina said.

Now, the Bohol raffia carries the Rapya brand, a neat packaging of sepia and the shades of brown, a market package that elevates the product into among those elaborately showing the excellence, hardwork and the world-class craftsmanship that gets the raffia among the lasting prides of Bohol and the Philippines. (30)