They found each other when they were employed at Sagada Weaving. Robert Ag-a, more popularly named Langbay, worked as sewer while Irene Wanawan of Sadanga was weaving for the firm. They have one thing in common. They are a deaf-mute couple since birth. When they got married, they capitalized on each other skills and the business acumen observed with their employer. The left Sagada Weaving and bravely established their own weaving firm.
The couple learned the rudiments of business even with communication disability. They silently communicate with each other through gestures and signs. Langbay, having learned from Special Education, is able to read and write and understand simple Kankanaey and little English. He went out of his way to process documents in offices, to market his products and to purchase his materials by writing or signs. With the emergence of cell phones he is able to send text messages.
The business, producing woven bags was sustained for 15 years now and still going strong. The firm has 8 employees who eventually have to learn how to communicate with the couple through signs and text messaging.
They now have 3 children who are all going to school. They are able to construct their house in Madongo, Sagada. We would credit them for bravely facing life and doing more than what more able and educated people can. They prove to us that one can succeed with what they already have and not spending much effort looking for what they do not have. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you Robert and Irene Ag-a of the Tam-aw Madongo Handicrafts, Sagada, Mountain Porvince.
For these achievements, Irene and Robert were nominated by DTI as among the Mountain Province Outstanding Citizen for 2010. They received the recognition during the 2010 Lang-ay Festival.