How a woman gained the respect of her community

The Bamboo Landers Multi-sectoral Rural Workers Association is a multi-sectoral organization with ten active women members based in Buadiposo Buntung, Lanao del Sur.

Photo: Al Mujaadila Women’s Association (AMWA)

The Bamboo Landers Multi-sectoral Rural Workers Association is a multi-sectoral organization with ten active women members based in Buadiposo Buntung, Lanao del Sur.

The group’s initial livelihood activity was renting two hand tractors, which were provided by Al Mujaadila Women’s Association (AMWA) and Oxfam Pilipinas. From their rentals, the group eventually started its palapa (spicy M’ranao side dish) production but was stopped when Marawi siege took place. The incident also caused the temporary suspension of the rental of their hand tractors, as farmers could not resume their farming activities. Because of these, the group focused on garment making which is more profitable.

The group’s garment making venture started when AMWA introduced them to the Angat Buhay Program of the Office of former Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo.

Through this program, the group was able to receive a livelihood package, including a sewing machine, several fabrics, and other materials used in making garments. Among their finished products were malong (a traditional long wraparound skirt)long dresses, mokna (an apparel used by Muslim women for praying), bed sheets, and curtains. 

Buyers from different municipalities in Lanao del Sur would often come to directly purchase their products. Additionally, there were orders of malong from satisfied customers. Proceeds from the sale would be kept for the organization, whereas members who did the sewing were paid per output for their labor. Any member who had the skill could participate in the sewing activity and earn.

 The association’s operation went unhampered despite the challenges and problems the group went through. 

“Honesty and transparency are very important factors in the success of the association’s operation and sustainability. You do not hide anything from the members. If the leader is honest and transparent, members would not feel cheated and because they trust the leader they would remain members of the organization,” Monera Bantasan, the president of the Bamboo Landers Multi -sectoral Rural Workers Association said. 

 She further shared that she regularly visited members to find out how they were doing and to discuss issues and plans of their organization. 

“We become a good example to other barangays because our organization, which is composed of women, successfully executed our livelihood activities,” Bantasan said.

When asked why women should be economically empowered, Bantasan said “A woman who is earning develops her self-worth and self- respect, and also gains the respect of her family. Since she has her own income, she now enjoys the freedom to decide what to buy for herself and for her children.”

She also shared how her self-confidence grew because of her participation in the livelihood activities of their group. 

“I gain the respect not only of my family but also of the community, especially because under my leadership, the association succeeded in implementing our livelihood activities.” 

Currently, Bantasan continues to inspire other women in their community by sharing her experience and teaching them her knowledge in dressmaking.

She and other members of their group also dream of opening their own bakery in the future. 



Al Mujaadila Women’s Association, Inc. (AMWA) is a non-profit and non-government organization composed of women who are committed to promote women’s human rights and condemn practices that violate these rights and acts that demean their worth and status as women. 

It is an advocacy-driven organization that continuously engages in activities that include organizing workshops, seminars, and trainings designed to raise the awareness of women about their basic rights and other women’s issues. It has also been involved in community organizing to help develop self-reliant and empowered communities. 

For the implementation of its projects and programs, AMWA relies on funding support from national and international agencies and foundations such as: Oxfam Pilipinas, Government of Australia, Government of Canada, The Asia Foundation, Ford Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others. 

One of its recent projects funded by the Government of Australia through Oxfam Pilipinas is the Women Empowerment on Leadership and Development (WELD), which includes publishing stories of economically empowered women from its partner communities in different areas of Lanao Del Sur.

The journey of the women whose stories of economic empowerment are featured in this publication is closely monitored by AMWA. The latter has been a constant witness to the progress of the associations these women currently lead – from their faltering beginnings triggered by doubts and uncertainties to their present stable status that is occasionally threatened by issues from within and problems from outside like the Marawi siege in 2017 (2017), the Covid-19 pandemic (2020), and other climate-induced disasters. But in the face of these challenges, they stood firm. Undeterred by the temporary setback, they chose to rise than give up. The courageous disposition they demonstrated in times of crisis is undoubtedly a distinct badge of their commitment and empowerment. 

Writer: Atty. Norma A. Maruhom  | Co-writer: Dr. Raima S. Dimaampao