Weaving Success: How ‘Puni’ revival in Malolos empowered women

Malolos is a place where nationhood and good food meet. The First Philippine Republic was inaugurated at the Barasoain Church on January 23, 1899. With it came a feast where among those served to guests was the Ensaymada, a soft-dough bread with sugar spread and salted egg on top. That banquet featured leaf art designs locally known as Puni.

Jonnah Garcia says Punique Handicrafts is a social business rooted in the revival of making Puni, a leaf art of Malolos that opened livelihood opportunities to women. (Shane F. Velasco/PIA 3)

Wedding gift

In the 1990s, culinary historian Milagros Enriquez spearheaded the revival of heritage food or the Pamanang Kaluto. And to make the experience more authentic, she teamed up with Puni weaver Gigi Garcia in the preparation of the banquet table.

Gigi became the mother-in-law of Jonnah. She gave her a bouquet made of Puni as a wedding gift in 2013. Jonnah was impressed and asked Gigi to teach her how to weave so she could start making this a business.

“At first, my mother-in-law was hesitant to train me because she knows the difficulty in weaving and the scarcity of raw materials,” Gigi recalled.

Finally, Jonnah convinced her mother-in-law to train her to make Puni along with a new generation of women in Malolos including the late Nicanora Hernandez, who also became a popular tele-culinary historian and fellow heritage-advocate.

The Department of Trade and Industry provides various assistance to Punique Handicrafts including participation in trade fairs, intellectual property registration and improvement of packaging and labeling. (PUNIQUE FB page)

Full-time entrepreneur

Seeing the opportunity, Jonnah resigned from her job in a private company to become a full-time entrepreneur. “We established Punique Handicraft. Initially, it attracted about 200 women who were trained to make Puni. Around 20 of them became full-time Punikeras,” Jonnah said.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provided assistance to Jonnah by inviting her to participate in various trade fairs including the Likha ng Central Luzon at SM Megamall. She also became a mentee and eventually a mentor in DTI’s Kapatid Mentor Me Program.

“Punique Handicraft also became part of the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Next Generation Program wherein DTI assisted us in intellectual property registration and improvement of our packaging and labeling,” Jonnah furthered.

Puni products were likewise exported to various areas worldwide including Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, with the help of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions.

Punikeras earn at least P5,000 monthly during the non-peak season and from P10,000 to P15,000 during the peak season. (Shane F. Velasco/PIA 3)

Creative Industry

DTI OIC-Assistant Regional Director and concurrent Bulacan Provincial Director Edna Dizon said Jonnah is a concrete proof that there’s a wealth in developing micro, small and medium enterprises in the Creative Industry.

Dizon also emphasized the timely enactment and implementation of Republic Act 11904, otherwise known as the Philippine Creative Industry Development Act, to support this kind of livelihood and develop more.

The Punikeras are now earning at least P5,000 monthly during the non-peak season and from P10,000 to P15,000 during the peak season.

Go Negosyo recognizes Jonnah Garcia of Punique Handicrafts (6th from left) as one of the 19 Outstanding Filipina Entrepreneurs. (First Lady Liza Marcos FB page)


Go Negosyo recognized Jonnah as “Most Promising Micro Entrepreneur.” She was one of the 19 Outstanding Filipina Entrepreneurs out of more than 700 entries nationwide. First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos handed the award to her during the annual Go Negosyo Women Summit which was supported by DTI and co-presented with the Embassy of the United States of America to the Philippines.

Governor Daniel Fernando also conferred on her the Natatanging Babae during the Gawad Medalyang Ginto 2024. The honor is annually bestowed by the provincial government of Bulacan on outstanding individuals and groups who have made an impact in different sectors.

Jonnah’s Punique is truly unique as it preserves local heritage and empowers women while penetrating local and international markets. (CLJD/SFV-PIA 3)

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