Fruit basket (kaing) making is the primary source of living of the residents of Barangay Balatbat, Lobo, Batangas.
Going to Barangay Balatbat is not hard at all. Though not cemented, the road is decent enough to be trodden by non 4×4 cars.
Our driver and newfound friend, Jerick, said “gumanda na ang daan dito, dati kasi kapag ummuulan parang sapa, at least ngayon nakayod na (pantay na ang daan).”
The WOWBatangas team had the opportunity to interview Mr. Manuel Florenda, a local of Barangay Balatbat and a long time kaing maker.
Mr. Florendo has a handful of jobs which revolves around agriculture including fishing and farming.
Basket making is deemed to be his most stable one as mangoes, rambutans and sugar apples all use kaings as its containers. Kaing is the basket for all seasons, I must say.
The what-I-think-is-a-45-year-old-man could make 6 big kaings max an hour.
The retired Philippine Army personnel has been making baskets since time immemorial and is now teaching the skill to the young ones of Barangay Balatbat. “Biruin mo batang bata pa ang mga yan (while pointing at the children who sit right across the street) pero kumikita na ng pera“, he takes pride.
A kaing would cost around 5-10 pesos depending on the size. Thinking of the fact that Mang Manuel receives hundreds even thousands of orders, it may be concluded that one would not have to conquer the urban grounds to make a decent or even a bountiful living.
The kawayan basket could hold up to 30 kilos. Its low durability (a kaing could only be used two times) plays a good hand for Mr. Florendo for the customers would be forced to buy some more.
The off-season for orders are inevitable, albeit the fact, he makes it a point to make at least 5 everyday and have it on storage. It may not be actual money alright, but the baskets are as good as it. “huwag mo lang hayaang mabasa, mamaya maya, pera na yan (baskets),” he tells us half kiddingly.
Our interview with Mang Manuel also told us a little about what I believe is the secret of Lobo which is to maintain a simple living and to responsibly make use of natural resources is one of the many formulas of living a satisfied life.