Feature: Selling "life in a nutshell"
by Rey Anthony Chiu
Tagbilaran City (16 June) -- Selling life, in a nutshell.
This is how 68-year old Demetria Bagoy unwittingly describes her close engagement in Bohol's calamay industry as a calamay maker in Alburquerque town and a vendor at the city port.
Rain and shine, sweat and tears, dedication and hardwork all packed in neat coconut-shell she offers to tourists and guests. It also describes the industry that has kept people sticking together to pick a new identity as calamay town here.
Almost daily, Demetria, or Demie and her family face stifling heat to stir cook milled glutinous rice in coconut milk and brown sugar solution for a couple of hours over low fire in their cramped kitchen.
All of these to bring out that sweet gluey stuff in spoke-shaved coconut shells banded in red which tourists in Bohol would not go home without.
Rain or shine, hell or high water, as long as the fast crafts come, Demie and other calamay vendors stalk the port and offer the "sweet fruit" of their labor to tourists.
When not selling, Demetria, or Nang Demie also sits as an officer of Alburquerque Calamay Makers' Association, an organization helping to improve the lot of people intricately stuck in a sticky industry for more than half a century.
Left with little capital, less technical know-how in packaging, Demie and many Alburanons tapped government and non-government help to aggressively promote their product.
When government aggressively pursued tourism for Bohol, calamay makers like her saw the perfect chance.
Now selling briskly to tourists passing by the city port, the family also sources the money for their daily rice and fish.
Demie has sold the product since 1962, has seen rough times but as long as tourists keep coming, selling would always be up, she said.
In the business that demands small financial capital but more hardwork, they have to sell daily and compete with other vendors.
But fully believing in "tourism bringing opportunities" not only for vendors like her, Bagoy and her organization have been religiously coming to the makeshift stall at the port to sell their toil.
Makapamugas man hinuon pod, Nang Demie shared in Cebuano when asked about the income.
Now tying up with Capitol and the Bohol Local Development Foundation for a display center project in their town, Demie and countless other calamay makers have been thankful for government direct and indirect intervention to promote the industry.
As long as tourists come, we are assured of our daily needs, she said.
Along with other stakeholders, the tourism boom in Bohol has opened countless job opportunities for people engaged in tour operations, hotel and restaurant, arts and culture and other support industries including agriculture. (PIA) [top]