Bantayan Tote


banatayan tote


Like stone playfully skipping on the water surface, Typhoon Yolanda made landfall several times when she entered the country. One such landfall was in northern Cebu, which left Bantayan Island devastated and isolated. Almost all structures were flattened and industries came to a screeching halt.

In the aftermath, members of the Association of Negros Producers, themselves coming from hardship during the sugar crisis of the 80s, actively sought to offer livelihood assistance to storm-ravaged communities. One of them is Marichu Cusi who runs Kiculo Crafts, a fashion accessory company owned by her daughter, Kitkat Lobaton. Providing livelihood to those who need them is in the DNA of Kiculo . The company has been working with beneficiaries of Gawad Kalinga in Bacolod who supply the bag lining. This innate desire to help now finds new meaning outside Negros, as Kiculo breathes life to “Smiles Beyond Borders”, the theme of the 29th Negros Trade Fair.

Living on disaster relief cannot be sustainable. Bantayan’s predicament caught the attention of foreign assistance, among them, the French NGO Humanitarian Open Source Touch, or HOST. The weaving of pandan leaves into fashionable bags, common in many parts of the country but not quite in Bantayan, suddenly presented a vibrant source of income. The people of HOST connected with Marichu, offering to undertake the training of the locals to produce bags against strict specifications. That Marichu and her daughters wear their bags daily assures buyers and cautions suppliers of Kiculo’s relentless focus on design, workmanship, and durability. Thus, putting the Kiculo label on woven bags from Bantayan will provide quantifiable endorsement and quantifiable help to the storm-crippled community.

The Bantayan Tote will debut at Kiculo’s booth at the 29th Negros Trade Fair. It will come in two sizes. The large tote reflects a young, utilitarian, laidback lifestyle, its neat weaving pattern offering a rustic island feel that shouts “weekend getaway”! The smaller Bantayan Tote appeals to a wide swathe of age groups, from empowered millenials to powerful boomers. And because the Bantayan Tote is loaded with concern for victims of Yolanda, it is a statement piece, a badge if you will, of love for humanity. Out of altruistic passion comes altruistic fashion.


Since Kiculo joined the trade fair a decade ago, its bags have become iconic to the event. Theirs are not run-of-the-mill “native” bags. Every year, bold and distinguishing elements are noticeable, in one year patadyong-design laminate handles, and in another, generous clusters of sparkling faux pearls in deep color. Unexpected design sets a Kiculo bag apart. In 2014, Marichu is incorporating a lot of leather in her woven bags, not just as handles, straps, and bottom guards, but as details. The Kiculo Leather Mosaic line uses leather cut-outs stitched to appear like mosaic tiles. The leather is done in the same color finish as the weaving, giving a final look of muted elegance and serene stability. The Leather Mosaic bag won top honors for the Fashion sector at the 2014 Bulawan Awards of the Association of Negros Producers.
Colors will make a big splash at the Kiculo booth come September. The Juliet Bag, a favorite among Kiculo customers, uses crocheted wax cord handles and comes ornamented with faux pearls. But the biggest update is in the use of multi-color pandan weaving.


  1. Kevin Bonn Abantao

    Who would have thought that a great idea would spring out from these humble islands? thumbs up!! #LCCBentrepreneurship

  2. Belinda Siason-Villa

    The business becomes successful because it anchores on good motives by helping the needy. Despite the darkness they are experiencing, the kiculo becomes their light. Keep it up. LCCBEntrep.

  3. Editho S. Mapa

    Bantayan Island is known as a beautiful beaches and tourist spot#Lccentrep

  4. Bethel Joy Virata

    This is great! I’d love to buy one 😉 two thumbs up! Prestigio! #LCCBentrepreneurship

  5. Jasmine Grace Dominguez

    Another evidence that Filipinos are truly creative and artistic….



    I already visited the place – Bantayan island and its awesome ! Sad to know their plight. But there’s hope. Yes, thanks to the ANP for reaching out our brothers & sisters out there .Let us promote our beautiful, and nice local products. The more we patronize our own products the more our economy improves.

  7. Mary grace fermo

    This would be a Win Win approach in helping those devastated by typhoon Yolanda as well as an effective medium to launch a product that is borne of the desire to rise again.I’d recommend this product to my balikbayan friends to support a noble cause.LCCBenterpreneurship

  8. Those woven bags looks great! Bantayan Islands in known for its beautiful beaches and I was saddened when typhoon Yolanda hit them. Kudos to all the organizations that helped them amidst this tragedy. Keep it up! #LCCBEntrepreneurship

  9. John Edward Q. Yong

    Looks great! Woven bags may not be the popular choice among most buyers but I think these are even more durable than what you can buy at the mall. =) #LCCBentrepreneurship

  10. Leah M. Francisco

    A great and fabulous idea of helping uplift the people’s lives of Bantayan Island, by promoting and selling a fantastic craftmanship,
    such a philantropic activities. #LCCBentrep

  11. Glaiza Mae P. Acuña

    Woven bags. We need to promote this to our local and foreign tourists. It’ll be a great help too for those people in the countryside. #LCCBentrep

  12. Another inspiring story. I admire Kiculo crafts, wish to have that kind of business soon. since I’m into arts and crafts also.

  13. Nicar Corral Nogra

    Tangkilin ang sariling atin. Producing jobs for the local people helps our economy boost. The advocacy is really great.

  14. Carina Makiling

    It’s good that people from Bantayan get livelihood from these woven bags. We must support local products. #LCCBentrepreneurship

  15. Aileen Casandra

    I appreciate the advocacy of ANP, especially all the help and assistance they have extended for the Bantayanons! #entrep

    • True, we need to still promote this advocacy 🙂

      • Aileen Casandra

        Right Sir Jo! Especially that Bantayan Island is one of the tourist destinations in the country for having good white sand beaches. Helping and teaching the people for their pangkabuhayan can help them restore what has been damaged little by little so they can stand after a great fall. #LCCBentrepreneurship

  16. Oh my gosh! I love that woven bag!

  17. I love the designs of the bags that they’ve made.

  18. Got these bags which my mom used as gifts last December. I also attached a short description of these bags, so that the receiver will be able to know the story behind it. Most of them are requesting where to get these so that they can place their orders.Some of them already brought these bags at the Negros Showroom.

  19. Ang gaganda ng mga bags!!! Bumili ako last October para pangregalo nong Christmas. Tapos nag kwento ako ng story of Yolanda behind the bags. I endeed getting orders of these bags. Nakakatuwa dahil nakatulong namn ako kahit sa pagbebenta man lang.

  20. This is great! I never know bantayan island was one of the places that was hitted during yolanda days. I really wanted to visit the place but got no chance yet. I like how they came up about this! Great and very useful!

  21. This is really great to know.I never knew about this island.Thanks for letting us inform.

  22. This is really nice. Pangkabuhayan para sa mga lokal. Let us support this kind of business!

  23. It’s indeed an appreciable gesture contribution made by Kiculo after joining the Negros Trade Fair. Kiculo opens a big hope to Yolanda-victims to become a self-reliant thru business entrepreneurship of bag making.

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