Gugu Bags from Albay, Bicol PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 14 September 2014 00:00

From the founder of multi-awardee Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation Jay Jaboneta, I learned of a local textile material in Albay, Bicol turned into a world-class back pack – the Gugu Bag. I hope this Pep Talk story will inspire also other Filipino youth to be enterprise, look into their own back yard too, and turn indigenous materials into world-class products.

This is Gugu’s story I got from their website www.weargugu.com.

It was 2010 when three college students were brainstorming on what would be the focus of their Income Generating Project (IGP) for a course requirement. They wanted to build around the “Wear Pinoy Pride Product” concept which was a trend back then. After weeks of research, they stumbled upon Jute Cloth – a locally produced textile primarily woven in the Bicol Region.

This was the birth of Mr. Kengkoy Backpacks. Back then, the textile was only used on making coin purses, small clutch bags, and other “pasalubong” items. The team decided to use the textile for something more mainstream – backpacks. But in order to realize this crazy concept, they needed to work on the development of the backpack, and they started by locating the source of the jute cloth.

The group then went on a journey to find the source of this soft, shiny, and versatile textile. The first few searches were futile, as they only met middlemen who marketed the textiles to handicraft producers. With a stroke of luck, the team located the local community of weavers in Daraga, Albay.

It was only then that the team knew about the unjust rates being given to the locals as compensation for producing the Jute Cloth. It was this moment that turned the project from a simple school project into a movement.

Four years later, the Mr. Kengkoy PH team decided to “revamp and relaunch” Mr. Kengkoy backpacks as Gugu. Named after the mythical chieftain of Bicol Gugurang, Gugu is now positioned as a world-class backpack through its remarkable design and unmistakable quality.

The team maintained the use of jute cloth and even branded it as the Mayon Fabric, since it was actually being made at the foot of its majestic namesake. And by focusing on its current flagship product line (starting with three distinct designs catering to three different market segments), Gugu is set to prove the world that indeed, the Filipino brand of innovation and ingenuity can go toe to toe with just about anyone.

James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

By: dante Corteza