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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Maluso, Basilan - The Bajaus of Basilan, who belong to the seafaring tribe often stereo-typed as beggars, are turning out to be master weavers of some of the most beautiful mats and bags made out of Pandan leaves that I had ever seen.

On Tuesday, during a quick visit to Maluso town arranged by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Asst. Secretary Cherry Akbar and Maluso Vice Mayor Al Yasin, I met with the Bajau weavers in a facility established by the Claretian Order of the Catholic Church.

About 20 Bajau women are being assisted by the Bajau Samal Foundation of the Bajau Apostolate of the Basilan Prelature.

Fr. Efren Decreto, a Claretian missionary, said by weaving Pandan leaves which are made into colorful mats and bags, the Bajau women earn a decent income.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) had been asked to assist the program by providing additional sources of income for the Bajaus like dried fish making.

Fr. Efren said he saw my post on Facebook about the Steam-Powered Fish Drying Facility established in Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay and said that facility would greatly help the Bajaus.

MinDA will return to Basilan soon to look into ways to assist the long-neglected people of the sea and support the Basilan Prelature's program of giving them decent sources of income.

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