Paying it forward

Posted on July 8, 2022

Gabriela Lucio Oloan guarantees to pay forward by passing her knowledge to younger people.

Some people have already experienced hardships at such a young age. One of them is Gabriela Lucio Oloan, a 47-year-old handicrafts store owner from Mountain Province. Her earlier years were rough since her father died three days before she was born. Because of this, her siblings had to stay with their relatives because they do not have sufficient funds to cover the needs of their family. It was also the reason why she did not have the chance to enter college.

She was 22 years old when a known fashion designer came to the town of Paracelis in Mountain Province to reignite people’s interest in the culture of weaving. It was that time when they started creating an organization called Bala’dang Handicraft. The organization was formed in 1997 with 20 people as its pioneer members. Some embassies are providing threads for them. Of course, it was such a rocky start since they did not have any background in weaving. The group was also able to create partnerships with foreign embassies, which paved the way for them to undergo more trainings and market their product to more people.

Unfortunately, even after the success of the group, they decided to go their separate ways due to differences.

But Gabriela saw the opportunity in this. She then decided to adopt the name of the organization as her own. Her capital came from the small fund that was given by the designer that supported them from the beginning and from the financial assistance of DTI.

It was in 2013 when she became a client of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Inc. (CARD, Inc.) – A Microfinance NGO. It provided her with the additional capital and assistance that she needs to continue growing her business.

With the Bala’dang Handicraft, she contributes to the generation of jobs in her community. She now employs four weavers in her business. As much as she wanted to employ more people, she observed that the present generation is no longer fund of weaving. Like the fashion designer who taught her how to weave, she also made it her advocacy to pass on what she knows about weaving.

“I believe that in order for me to return the kindness of those who supported my business, I have to pay forward by passing on my knowledge to the younger people of Mountain Province. This way, our culture will remain alive and well-preserved,” she concluded.

Bala’dang Handicraft is located at Nueva Vizcaya – Ifugao – Mountain Province Rd, Bontoc, Mountain Province. For more information about CARD, Inc. and its mission to eradicate poverty in the country, visit