It was a series of hardships that brought the women together
Before the [cooperative] was organized, we were a loose group doing hand weaving, knitting, crocheting, wood carving and silver craft. Most of the women are from the indigenous tribes of the Cordillera. The husbands were employed in the mining areas at that time.
When the mines closed, many of the men were laid off. They had off–and-on jobs as contractual workers. The women found themselves the bread winners in the family.
Many of the women had already been selling handicrafts to the many tourists who frequented Baguio City where they live. The number of tourists declined dramatically, however, when the US withdrew its military bases from the Philippines. A 1990 volcano eruption and a 1991 earthquake make life even more difficult.
These hardships brought the women together and they formed the cooperative in 1996. As a cooperative, women artisans work together in groups, obtain government help in skills training, buy raw materials, gain access to low interest loans and obtain titles to their land.
Just Creations sells recycled newspaper items made by members of the Highland Cooperative. To create these items, the women begin by sorting the paper according to color. They use an umbrella spoke or broom bristle to coil a single sheet of paper into a tightly rolled tube. When the item has been formed, they are coated with a starch solution that makes them resistant to water and heat.