Negros Occidental

Negros Occidental’s former conflict zones bloom into art hubs

Erwin Delilan

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Negros Occidental’s former conflict zones bloom into art hubs

COLORFUL. A colored hamper uway basket from Pinowayan,Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental

ANP-PGNO Balik Salig Awards

The Bacolod City event puts emphasis on the resilience and talent of artisans emerging from former rebel-influenced areas in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD, Philippines – A transformation is taking root in former conflict zones in Negros Occidental, which are now blossoming into hubs of artistry and craftsmanship. Through the provincial government’s innovative initiatives, these communities are shedding their past struggles and embracing a future of sustainable peace and creativity.

In collaboration with the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) and the Philippine Army, the province unveiled the 1st Balik Salig (trust again) Awards alongside the 31st Bulawan Awards and 2nd Pilak Awards. Held in Bacolod City from May 27 to 30, the event celebrated the communities’ finest in art design and craftsmanship, putting emphasis on the resilience and talent of artisans emerging from former rebel-influenced areas.

Mary Ann Feria-Colmenares, vice president of ANP, said on Saturday, June 1, that the participants under the Balik Salig Program (BSP) came from communities in the province’s hinterlands that used to be conflict areas.

TIKOG. The crocheted tikog bags from Hinoba-an town. ANP-PGNO Balik Salig Awards

“There is nothing more fulfilling than helping others by providing them opportunities for a life free from clashes and conflicts and empowering them to tap their talents for a productive life,” Feria-Colmenares said.

ANP is a non-profit organization that assists micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, as well as the communities they operate in, by offering platforms for promotion, product sales, and market expansion.

For the Balik Salig Awards, the Army identifies conflict areas in the province with resources available for potential art and craft production.

PLACEMATS. Tikog table placemats by the Madaha Hand Weaving Association in Himamaylan City. ANP-PGNO Balik Salig Awards

ANP then provides training and technical assistance to individuals or groups eager to hone their ingenuity and craftsmanship until product promotion and marketing.

The ANP-Army partnered for the program which started when Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte was commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade in 2022.

It first started in Sitio Madaha, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, a known rebel-influenced area in Negros Occidental.

Since Madaha is known as home to tikog, a type of grass that grows abundantly in the area and is a potent material for making or weaving banig (native mats), the Army and ANP grabbed the opportunity to train villagers to level up their weaving methods.

TRAY. Lechon food tray of Rogelio Sueta from the Camingawan Diversified Workers Association in Kabankalan City. ANP-PGNO Balik Salig Awards

From Madaha, the Army in Negros Occidental identified other areas with similar rebel issues but rich in indigenous resources and potential artisans. These included Pinowayan, Don Salvador Benedicto; Camingawan in Kabankalan City; Riverside in Isabela; and several in Hinoba-an.

“We are not only promoting economic goals but also fostering peace and stability with each other,” said Brigadier General Orlando Edralin, the present commander of the 303rd IB.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Calaoagan, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion based in northern Negros Occidental, said they supported the Balik Salig Awards initiative because it caters to the basic needs of communities and villagers who suffered as a result of peace and order problems in their rural communities.

“For them to thrive, we must join them in their recovery. We must assist them to stand on their own and, in the end, become productive contributors to productivity and change,” Calaoagan said.

BOAT BASKETS. The Banban boat baskets created by Agripino Cabudillo of Riverside Upland Farmers Association in Isabela. ANP-PGNO Balik Salig Awards

The winners and the corresponding categories in the 1st Balik Salig Awards are as follows:

  • Colored hamper uway basket from Pinowayan, Don Salvador Benidecto (best in hamper) 
  • Lechon food tray by Rogelio Sueta of the Camingawan Diversified Workers Association (Cadiwa), Kabankalan City (best in home furnishing)
  • Crocheted tikog bag from Hinoba-an (best in bag-making)
  • BanBan boat basket by Agripino Cabudillo from Riverside Upland Farmers Association in Isabela (best basket)
  • Tikog table placemat from Madaha Hand Weaving Association, Himamaylan City (best in mat weaving)
  • Ronnie de la Cruz of Cadiwa from Kabankalan City (best in craftsmanship)

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