Changing the world of Nanay, one pamaypay at a time

            “Pamaypay ni Nanay”  is a social enterprise initiated by artist Joy Jesena Barcelon to help indigent mothers and street children earn a living. She started mentoring a handful of women in 2018. Today, Pamaypay is supporting 14 families in the cities of Muntinlupa and Parañaque.

             And the children who used to roam the streets are now enrolled at the Action for the Care and Development of the Poor in the Philippines (ACAP), a non-government organization (NGO) learning center where Joy is a volunteer artist.

             “We wanted to help provide mothers livelihoods so their children would stop begging or scavenging for food,” Barcelon said.

            Her idea for a livelihood was to turn a hobby she shared with her mother-in-law into an income-generating activity. It involved turning the native pamaypay (fan) into a fashion accessory by embellishing it with beads, sequins and lacy appliquès.

           Joy taught the mothers the basics of stitching scraps of fabric into the pamaypay. Then they were introduced to intricate fabrics, such as jusi from pre-loved Barong Tagalog.  Soon, Joy made them use ethnic weaves from Benguet, Iloilo and Mindanao. Old wedding gowns, shawls and scarves were also repurposed or upcycled to adorn the traditional pamaypay.

        In a few years, the unskilled women evolved into meticulous and highly skilled sewers. “They are earning, they have gained confidence and, more importantly, they are able to keep their children in school,” Barcelon said.

          Their products have also diversified to include all-around pouches made of upholstery swatches, Christmas parol from recycled chopsticks and mesh bags for fresh produce from tulle. And since they operate on a small budget, proceeds from sales are immediately plowed back to finance the next project.

           But the pamaypay remains a beloved craft produced throughout the year. It is an ideal gift and souvenir for any occasion.

           Joy admitted that by teaching crafts to the mothers, she also learned some life lessons herself.  “When I hear of their problems, mine shrink into insignificance. I am more aware of how I use water and electricity, having realized these are very precious resources. I am more appreciative of my home and family because for others these are very problematic. I have learned to share and even help others to share, too. It means a world of difference to these unfortunate people to know that someone out there cares,” she said.

        “We may not be able to change the world but we can change the world of one Nanay, one pamaypay at a time,” she added.

           Pamaypay ni Nanay may be reached through Facebook, Joy Jesena Barcelon; email, and mobile phone, 0998-8838805.

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