Ilonggos have designed and crafted a line of “high-quality, high-fashion” hand bags made of discarded tarpaulin materials used for outdoor advertising, and formally launched by leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).

Released under the Nautilus label of internationally renowned Ilonggo designer PJ Arañador, the creation and marketing of these bags are part of Smart’s initiatives to provide eco-friendly and sustainable livelihood to its adopted communities.

Designed by Arañador and handcrafted by the residents of PLDT-Smart Amazing Gawad Kalinga Village in Sooc, Arevalo District in Iloilo City, these bags are one of the outputs of Project Zero – a joint project of Smart, Arañador and Gawad Kalinga.

“We called it Project Zero because it all started with nothing but a stock room full of used tarpaulin billboards and banners. And by using zero electricity and leaving behind zero waste, we managed to create green products that will help support the livelihood of the Gawad Kalinga residents in Sooc,” said Arañador.

The product launching was held at Arañador’s Nautilus Shop at D’Mall in Boracay, Aklan, where the products are now available to the island’s visitors and foreign tourists.

Soon, the bags will be available in Gawad Kalinga’s GKonomics show rooms in key places across the country.

“When we started our partnership with Gawad Kalinga, we gave homes to several families in Sooc but did not stop there. We did not just build homes, we helped them build livelihood,” said Darwin Flores, Smart’s Senior Manager for Community Partnerships.

“From creating simple products made of tarpaulin, we are glad that PJ came and helped us train the community in crafting more marketable, quality products,” Flores added.

“It also helped that PJ is a designer and social entrepreneur with environmental conscience because that’s what Smart is pushing for – a sustainable livelihood that’s both pro-planet and pro-people.”

An Ilonggo himself, Arañador through the help of Smart conducted trainings for the residents of GK Sooc, Iloilo, infusing the Filipino influence in the bag designs.

Aside from bags, he also trained the residents to come up with other usable creations like baskets, trays and small furniture – all made of discarded tarpaulin materials.

“My ultimate goal is for the GK Sooc community to grow this livelihood to a number followed by so many zeroes,” said Arañador.

The PLDT-Smart Amazing GK Village in Sooc that crafts the launched Nautilus bags is composed of more than 60 households with close to 400 members.

Aside from tarpaulin recycling, Smart is also providing other means of livelihood like pulverizing tarpaulin to be turned into bricks for building and the creation of useful and decorative clay sculptures.

Photo credits: Smart Communications