Social enterprise SAFFY, the Social Action for Filipino Youth, works with artisans in rural communities of the Philippines and provides safe employment opportunities. Ranging in age from 18 to 60, many of the artisans work together in a communal shop, but many who live in more remote regions also have the option to work from home to take care of their families. SAFFY works with more than 600 artisans, the majority of whom are women. The group offers essential services including skill development, product development insights, and financial management training. The organization is committed to building capacity within the artisans’ communities through the creation of market access and opportunities that promote entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency.
SAFFY works with licensed tree farmers to access wood that has been sustainably harvested. Once the wood is shaped, each piece is set to dry over a period of several weeks. A lacquer coat is carefully added to the hand-carved wood. These artisans and carvers have preserved these techniques across generations.
Artisans working with a SAFFY partner create capiz wall hangings while they practice a time-intensive process, from the cleansing and sealing of capiz to the finishing of the wood. Capiz shells are commonly known for their delicate appearance and natural, beautiful luster and help to cut down on waste when reused for décor. Each piece takes approximately half a day to create and involves one to two artisans during the process.
The artisans creating the corn husk flowers are women based in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. The province of Tarlac is a top corn producer in the country. Residents are not permitted to burn corn husks due to the harm it can cause to the environment, so starting in 2016, the mayor introduced the project of converting the husks into sustainable products, making it unique to the community. They held a training program and have learned the skill over the years. To create the timeless corn husk flowers, they harvest the corn, gather the husks and necessary materials, clean the materials and prepare the dyes, clean and dry the dyed husks, begin the assembly and pattern, and form the shape. They unite the flower and stem and then put the finishing touches. This intricate process takes one artisan approximately three hours.
Artisans are preserving generations-old techniques while creating the rattan and glass vases by hand. To begin, they cut the raw materials and rattan to prepare it for weaving. It maintains its strong structure while allowing artisans to freely weave it into different designs. The rattan is then woven and varnished. It takes one to two artisans approximately one hour to make each vase.