While Ifugao is famous for its cold weather, majestic mountain ranges, and the world-famous rice terraces, the women farmers of Uhaj, a village in the province, are also making a name for themselves with whimsical projects made through the help of Knitting Expedition, a social enterprise co-founded by Candy Reyes-Alipio.
Candy tells My Pope about Knitting Expedition, and how it helps the women of Uhaj.
What is Knitting Expedition?
We are a social enterprise that crafts quirky toys, home accessories, and wooly warmers lovingly knitted by women who tend the rice terraces in Ifugao. It began as Ricefield Collective, an initiative that helped the farmers of the rice terraces by teaching a group of women how to knit hats, cowls, scarves, and other high-quality accessories. Because of sustainability issues, Ricefield Collective ceased operations in September 2014, and Knitting Expedition took over.
How does it help the women of Uhaj?
Knitting provides income for the women rice farmers and full-time mothers. In between planting and harvest season, they knit to earn a living. It allows them to continue their cultural tradition of rice terrace farming, which we hope can be passed on to the next generation.
For Noemi Ballatong, one of the women farmers, knitting has helped in her family’s expenses. “Knitting helps in our daily expenses—from the children’s allowance to our meals every day. If we have no work in the farms, we knit.” Meanwhile, Marjet Mundiguing, the youngest knitter in the group, said that she was able to support her college education through Knitting Expedition. “I was able to help my parents with the expenses because I supported myself through college with my earnings. I also get my allowance from there even now that I’m looking for work.”
In the long run, the additional income these women knitters earn goes a long way. Instead of seeking jobs in the big cities or abroad, they feel encouraged to stay and tend to their ancient, world-renowned rice terraces.
Check out Knitting Expedition’s wooly wonders here and help support their cause!