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REGION 1 MSME SUCCESS STORIES

La Torre Iloko Vinegar Of Bacarra: A Taste Of Ilocano Ingenuity

Bottle of La Torre Iloko Vinegar

To Ilocanos, their very own native vinegar or the locally known sukang iloko is one of the many staple cuisine products primarily because of its role in the Ilocano culture and history particularly as their food condiment or food preservative. Sukang iloko which is made from naturally fermented sugarcane, has a strong acidic scent and turbid-color quality distinctive of other vinegars. Its unique taste complements mouth-watering delicacies such as adobo, paksiw, longganisa and a perfect match for empanada.

One of the major vinegar producers and manufacturers in the province of Ilocos Norte is the Malampa Agrarian Reform Cooperative (MARC) located in Brgy. Nambaran, Bacarra. Its members are farmers who have maintained various economic activities like palay trading, relending and of course, vinegar and basi production.

Malampa Agrarian Reform Cooperative

The story of the vinegar business of MARC has come a long way since it started in 2005.  Before the vinegar production business cooperative was established, some farmer-members are already producing vinegar in limited volumes and generally of lower quality for their own personal consumption. They were apprehensive that they will not be able to market their products. Still, DTI and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) saw the big market potential of Sukang Iloko for the cooperative so they assisted and encouraged its members to engage in a large scale vinegar production.

MARC served as the marketing arm of the produce of the member-farmers engaged in the manufacture of vinegar which they later on named as La Torre Iloko Vinegar. With the support of  DTI, DAR together with all the other stakeholders, the cooperative came up with a marketing plan to support the implementation of the project. The assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) were also sought in order to address the technical aspects of the proposed project.

To further enhance production, equipment were provided to them by different government agencies. Though DTI’s Shared Service Facility Project (SSF) and Bottom Up Budgetting (BuB), a total of PHP 2.5 million worth of equipment were given to MARC. The provision of these projects enabled the cooperative to produce better quality and market driven products. Aggressive promotion and linkage with private institutions also helped in widening their market. Due to the improved packaging and labeling undertaken by all stakeholders, the product has gained market demand not only in the Province but to other places as well. Initial interventions were made with the different restaurants and groceries in Tuguegarao and has also tie-up with a dealer from Metro Manila.

SSF for Iloko Vinegar

With the support of LGU, the La Torre Iloko Vinegar is now adopted as the One Town One Product (OTOP) of the Municipality of Bacarra. The OTOP is a priority program of the government to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs. It supports micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to manufacture, offer and market distinctive products or services through the use of indigenous raw materials and local skills and talents.

It was envisioned that the Vinegar Project did not only present opportunities that increased the income of the household, nor a stop-gap measure in the short-run, but more importantly provided sustainability that served as the vehicle to uplift the economic conditions of the people of Nambaran. With the continuing development of their  entrepreneurial and managerial capabilities, the officers and members of the cooperative is now serving as inspirations to their community. A proof that even farmers can manage the operation of a business.

With these projects and the continued support of the stakeholders, the members of the Malampa Agrarian Reform Cooperative can only look forward to a better future.

Blacksmith Industry - Fierce And Strong All Through The Years

The loud banging sound, fire blazing and metal flares from the steel blade being honed in the furnace symbolizes that the blacksmith industry of Calasiao, Pangasinan is still flourishing. Coined from the Filipino term Panday or blacksmith, Sitio Pandayan of Brgy. Gabon, Calasiao, Pangasinan is known for its quality blades, samurai and other razor products. Blacksmithing has been one of the primary source of living of the majority of residents in the area who are also members of the Aliguas Blacksmith Workers Association (ABWC).

Region 1 Blacksmith

Although their association was relatively new, Ruben Magalong, ABWC President shared that the blacksmith industry of Sitio Pandayan has been in existence for more than seven decades now on which he described as reflection of valued tradition handed down to generations.

Some of the Panday in the area still do the old and very rigid process of metal honing. Although this method as incomparable and part of the rich tradition of blacksmithing, members of the ABWC recognized the need to upgrade their knowledge and facilities to cope up with the demands of the market and maximize the advantages of technology. In 2013, DTI introduced to them the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Project. Established primarily to help MSME groups and cooperatives, it aims to improve the quality and productivity of microenterprises by addressing the gaps and bottlenecks through the provision of processing machines and equipment for the common use of the MSMEs.

Region 1 Blacksmith

DTI saw the potential for growth and development of ABWC, thereby, identified them as one of the SSF recipient. PHP1.2 million worth of machine and equipment like welding and sewing machines, metal cut-off,, forging hammers and others were provided to the association. Trainings and seminars were also provided to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. Aside from the increase of sales and production, the number of members also increased from 83 to 126. It included few from young generation who showed interest in blacksmith industry. Their present market include Pangasinan, La Union, Bulacan, Metro Manila. Orders from abroad are also starting.

Salamat po dahil sa suporta ng DTI, hindi napag-iwanan ang sector ng pagpa-panday!” (Thank you! With DTI’s support, the blacksmith industry will not be left behind!”)

With the new technology introduced to the hardworking blacksmiths of Sitio Pandayan, they are now more driven to continue and develop the blacksmith industry. Hence, strong as the metal steel they honed, fierce as the fire in the furnace, their future will remain bright.

From Farmer To Agri-Preneur

For an ordinary farmer like Rolly Mateo, farming is his way of life. But with the growing demands and needs of his family, what he generates from the seasonal harvest coming from the small rice field he toils can barely sustain their needs. Rolly believes that more than the farm work, farmers like him can still maximize their potentials to become agricultural entrepreneur or agri-preneur.

United with the same desire to provide a better living for their respective families, Rolly together with other the farmers of Brgy. Bantog, Asingan, Pangasinan formed the Bantog Samahang Nayon Multipurpose Cooperative (BSN-MPC).

Pangasinan Dairy

Known as the farmer’s bestfriend, carabao is the ever reliable farm helper and companion of Rolly and fellow farmers. To maximize the worth of their carabao, they started to harvest milk from it and sold it fresh around their neighborhood. Determined to expand their carabao-based enterprise, BSN-MPC seek the assistance of DTI and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC). PCC provided them additional imported buffalo carabaos to milk from. Through DTI’s Shared Service Facility (SSF) Project, the cooperative received tools and equipment for dairy production and milk processing. BSN-MPC received milking machine, chest freezers, ice cream maker machine, stainless tables stamp sealer and water purification machine all amounting to almost a million pesos.

Trainings and seminars were also given to enhance the entrepreneurial expertise of the members. The member-farmers turned agri-preneurs were also invited to attend crash courses on basic entrepreneurship, product labeling, good maunufacturing practices, book keeping, accounting and even work values.

Pangasinan Dairy

“Malaking tulong sa amin na nagkaroon kami ng tuloy-tuloy na hanapbuhay habang hinihintay naman ang pag-harvest sa aming pananim." - Rolly Mateo, cooperative president. (It’s really a great help that we now have continuous source of income while we wait for the harvest season.”)

Prior to the provision of SSF, they can only produce 15 liters of milk in a day, most of it gets spoiled because of the then limited machineries they have for the milk preservation.

With the new milking facility, they can harvest an average of 70 liters of carabao milk everyday, equivalent to almost 500% increase. This development urged other farmers in their area to join the cooperative. From the original five cooperative members, there are now 84 members. A great increase on their sales can also be attributed to the assistance they received. From their usual PHP600 sales per day, they are now earning PHP4,000 daily net income.

Market opportunities for their products also widen especially that the shelf life of their dairy products improved. Moreover, they introduced innovation by putting flavors like chocolate, pineapple, strawberry and others to make it flavored-milk. Other dairy-based product variants are also available like pastillas and ice cream.

DTI’s technology assistance to the carabao industry created sustainable enterprise that can provide more income and employment.

“Forever” With Ilocos Empanada

“I want to be my own boss, I don’t want to go to abroad anymore.”

The bubbly and humble 51-year-old Gemma Victoria, answered when she was asked why she started her own food business. She is the owner of Victoria’s Empanada, one of the successful and well-known Ilocos Empanada Food Business in La Union.

Victoria's Empanada

Before becoming a successful entrepreneur, she worked abroad as Domestic Helper. She worked in Bahrain, Singapore and Hongkong with high hopes that it will give her family a better life. But away from her family, the homesick and frustration she felt while missing the joy of caring and nurturing her children here in the Philippines was so much to bear. Thus, she decided to go home.

Her special “relationship” with Ilocos Empanada, started when she was hired to be an ‘extra’ helper for a food booth that sells Ilocos Empanada during the Rimat ti Amianan Trade Fair in San Fernando City, La Union. It was a struggling start for someone like Gemma who did not know the techniques of rolling, forming and filling the empanada dough. It was more of a love-hate relationship as she experimented to get the delectable and authentic empanada taste. But her innate patience and perseverance to learn helped her get through it. Equipped with little knowledge about the culinary art of Ilocos Empanada, she later on worked for an Ilocos Empanada store in Laoag City as an all-around helper.

But fate, has something better in store for Gemma. After a year of working as a helper, she finally had the guts to try her own chance in Empanada business. Together with her husband who also worked as a cook for local restaurants, they started Victoria’s Ilocos Empanada business in 2006 with a PHP20,000 loaned capital.

Having had a limited background, her entrepreneurial competence was challenged. Eager to succeed, she participated to local trade fairs initiated by DTI La Union. The delectable taste of her Empanada became a hit to her customers. Her own blend and style of Ilocos Empanada had a trademark of flavor to reckon with.

Since then, Victoria’s Empanada became a regular local and national trade fair participant. She had her first Manila –based exhibit at the Festival Supermall, Alabang Muntinlupa during La Union’s FAIRest Trade Fair.

Victoria's Empanada

With the resounding success of her participation to fairs and exhibits, she opened her first store at CSI the City Mall in San Fernando, La Union to readily serve her local customers. After three years, she also opened her first store in Metro Manila located at the Festival Supermall, Alabang. Her success continued as she opened additional stores located at Robinsson’s Ortigas and Divisoria, Manila. To date, she already have 5 stores nationwide which she jointly operates with her family.

“I never stop learning and developing my empanada business. DTI gave me the opportunities to participate on their seminars, trainings and most especially to Trade Fairs. They thought me how to innovate. With the support of DTI La Union I would not be successful as I am now,” Gemma said.

It was a dream come true for Gemma to be her own boss. Indeed, hardwork and perseverance (Sipag at Tiyaga) can really pay off. Truly, Gemma’s special “relationship” with Ilocos Empanada is an inspiration that amidst all the struggles, do not lose hope- there is success that translates to “Forever.”

Weaving Their Way To Success!

Delicately and skillfully created, the woven silk or habing suksuk seda of Bacnotan, La Union is a presentation of Filipino’s masterful method of weaving and design.

Main materials used were from silkworms cultured and reared to produce silk, a natural woven fiber that can be made into fabric. Each strand has to undergo a highly complex and labor intensive process.

Sericulture or the silkworm industry is still considered as novice industry in the Philippines but its potentials for improvement is expansive especially that DMMMSU Sericulture Research and Development Institute(SRDI) in Bacnotan, La Union has been established as the National Center of Silk Industry in the Philippines. By virtue of RA 7359, the institute is mandated to conduct researches, train Sericulturist and extend technologies on sericulture industry.

DMMMSU Sericulture

Sericulture is an industry with high potentials for employment and income generation. To date, there are 53 sericulture farmer members and 52 handicraft producers/members from four different Sericulture Associations affiliated with SRDI.

In 2014, a total of 1.8 tons of fresh cocoons were produced by the institute. From this volume, SRDI was able to produce raw silk fabrics, silk yarn, suksuk and duplon silk. With all these materials, silk shawl, and other garments were produced. Valued for its sophisticated quality, it was used mainly for Barong Tagalog, Wedding gowns, dresses and other high fashion garments and accessories.

However, in 2014, the production of quality raw silk fabrics was hampered after a fire burned down SRDI’s 25-year-old boiler. The boiler is one of the most important equipment needed in cocoon processing. SRDI had no choice but to use low-cost cooking machines fueled by fire wood to continue operation. The boiler is essential in cocoon processing as the steam it produces is needed to operate other equipment. Lack of it resulted to the slow and more laborious silk production. Thereby, affecting the income of the Sericulture Entrepreneurs Association.

In order to help revitalize silk production, DTI through the Shared Service Facility Project provided a PHP1.7 million worth of Boiler for Filature equipment to SRDI. With the boiler, the standard temperature needed for cocoon cooking, steaming, reeling, drying and even in dyeing silk will be maintained, thus resulting to high quality raw silk and silk yarns produced.

DMMMSU Sericulture

With the manual operation using firewood, cooking of cocoons and steaming during reeling took about 1 hour and 20 minutes but with the aid of the boiler, only 20 minutes is consumed. Furthermore, production capacity has now increased by 100%.

With this new development in the industry, Director Cristeta Gapuz of DMMMSU – SRDI stated that the sericulture industry of Bacnotan, La Union looks forward to a brighter future in coping up with the demands for quality silk fabric.

“The increasing number of clients wanting to engage in sericulture is a manifestation that this industry is a good tool to further support our government’s efforts towards growth. Thank you DTI for the support.” she added.

Aside from Sericulture farmers as direct project beneficiary, about 78 silk weavers are also benefitting as they get the worn silk of best quality from SRDI which they weave for fabrics. To date, habing suksuk seda products are reaching as far as Manila and abroad

There is still a long way to go for the Habing Suksuk Seda Industry, but as they weave with unity and hardwork, success will surely be theirs.

Cervantes Women Find New Treasure

The women in the town of Cervantes have found new treasures not from the Golden Buddha that is said to be hidden in the mountains of Cordillera but from the new livelihood venture, thanks to the SME Roving Academy (SMERA) and Shared Service Facility (SSF) Program of the DTI.

Cervantes occupies a prominent role in our country’s history being one of the sites of a fierce battle between the combined US and Philippine Forces against the Japanese Imperial Army during the height of the Second World War. Urban legend says that General Tomoyuki Yamashita had hidden gold bullions in a secret place along the cordillera mountain ranges covered by the said municipality. In the past, treasure seekers were in a race to locate the so-called “Yamashita Treasure.”

“There were claims that locals have found some of these treasures but such claims have yet to be substantiated by evidence”, said Ms. Cecilia Sawey, a resident of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. “But I believe, instead of trying our luck in finding the treasures, we have to work our way to improve our life”, she added.

Cervantes SMERA

Typical of an upland area, limitations of the town’s accessibility to the commercial trading centers has been hindering the government’s efforts to improve the standard of living of its constituents. The competitiveness of their produce is affected because of the high transportation cost in bringing their produce to the trading centers. Likewise, the high price and the limited supply of basic commodities in the barangays brought about by the accessibility problems are aggravating the living conditions of the people.

Confident that women can play great role in uplifting the quality of life in the countryside, Ms. Sawey helped establish the Cervantes, Ilocos Sur Women Development Center (CISWDC) and in 2008, it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with an initial membership of 19. Since then, the group has been involved in various government programs that promote women empowerment.

Cervantes SMERA

In October 2014, when Ms. Genoveva Paet, the CISWDC President learned that the DTI has embarked on the massive conduct of trainings under the SME Roving Academy (SMERA), she requested the conduct of Basic Skills Training on Meat Processing. Her objective was for the members to get more income from their hog raising project by processing longganisa, tocino and embutido. Processed meat has a relatively big market in Cervantes and its adjoining towns of Tadian in Mountain Province and Mankayan in Benguet because it is scarcely available in these areas. The Meat Processing Training conducted on October 24, 2014 provided new livelihood venture for the members. Since then, demand for CISWDC’s processed meat products has increased dramatically with monthly average sales of PhP 35,000.00. Thus, to improve productivity and meet the growing market demand, the group has again requested the DTI to avail tools and equipment under the SSF Program. With the SSF, the group has established a meat processing venture located at Barangay Rosario with monthly sales reaching up to PhP 80,000.00. CISWDC with a current membership of 29 women is in-charge of marketing the members’ products and now supplying longganisa, embutido and shanghai in the town of Cervantes and its adjoining towns. The project likewise provided employment to twenty (20) individuals who are members of the association. Their income from this venture helped a lot to support their family’s daily needs.

Members of the CISWDC have indeed found new treasure as they are now steadily contributing to the uplift the economic condition of the families in this upland town. This treasure is the result of their determination and hard work in improving the quality of life.

Women Empowerment Through SSF

So much of the “this is a man’s world” mentality, a group of women entrepreneurs from Binmaley, Pangasinan proved that women’s entrepreneurial skills should never be underestimated. In seek of a better source of income, 15 women entrepreneurs grouped themselves, pioneered the Binmaley Rural Improvement Club (BRIC) in 1989 and started with their home-based processed bangus production.

Binmaley Rural Improvement Club

Binmaley Rural Improvement Club

At the age of 77, Milagros Buenafe or fondly called Nanay Mila is the President of BRIC. She recalled how they started as a small cooperative now turned into a successful 85-member cooperative. BRIC members who are all housewives used to spend their days unproductively playing binggo and game cards. Nanay Mila persuaded them to join in BRIC. The cooperative opened its doors to new business opportunities and women economic empowerment, thereby converted their idle time into a fruitful and productive level.

Although knowledgeable about the basics of bangus processing, Nanay Mila admitted that they still have lots of things to be learned. Challenged to improve their products, she started attending trainings and seminars on food processing production conducted by different government agencies including DTI. Skills learned were then re-echoed to members.

Amidst the limited amount used for capitalization, the group started making marinated deboned bangus and smoked fish locally known as tinapa and peddled it to their friends and neighbors.

Seeing the group’s interest and eagerness in pursuing their vision to help alleviate the living condition of their members and families, DTI-Pangasinan Provincial Office through the provision of Shared Service Facilities Project (SSF) gave BRIC almost a million worth of of Bangus Processing facilities. These were food grade stainless steel smoking house, stainless tables, double chamber vacuum packaging machine, 22 cu ft. chest type freezer, 51 liter capacity Industrial Pressure Cooker and other tools that helped them in their production.

With DTI’s intervention in providing the much sought facilities under the SSF Program, BRIC increased their monthly average production capacity from 3,000 kilos to 10,000 kilos of fresh bangus processed into an array of assorted products in a vacuum packed. The quality of their products also improved, aside from their best seller deboned and smoked bangus, variety of other bangus products like bangus relleno, tocino, nuggets, siomai, longanisa, shanghai are now available. More so, their market widened due to the used of vacuum packed packaging that prolongs the shelf life of the products. BRIC bangus products are now reaching NCR, Zambales, La Union, Cagayan, Baguio City, Laguna, Bicol Region and even abroad as pasalubong.

Binmaley Rural Improvement Club

With the provision of SSF, BRIC is now selling a monthly average of PhP80,000.00 worth of processed bangus products, higher compared to PHP50,000 sales before SSF was introduced.

“DTI improved the lives not only of women entrepreneurs but our families as well. DTI helped us how to start, they gave us trainings on work values, ethics, entrepreneurship, book keeping, accounting even on food pricing and costing, labelling and food safety. The facilities we have always wanted to have, we received through DTI’s SSF Project.” Nanay Mila testified.

Noteworthy of the impact of the BRIC bangus processing project is that it helped alleviate the economic condition of their members through increased on income and employment generation. Likewise, the barangay and its municipality itself benefited from the BRIC Bangus Processing Project through revenues and taxes out of the income generated by the group including the promotion of Municipality of Binmaley as the home of “BRIC Processed Bangus.”

Ilocos Norte's White Gold

Garlic is a high value commercial crop or cash crop that farmers in Ilocos Norte plant during the month of November. Its pungency gains inevitable preference among the consumers. Ten years ago, San Nicolas had an area of 400 hectares devoted to garlic production but due to the increase in production costs and gradual decline in the market price per kilogram, the garlic farmers shifted to other crops. It was in November 4, 2009 that the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) initiated a joint project on Garlic Technology Commercialization.

The garlic growers organized themselves into an association called the San Nicolas Bawang Association (SNBA) with 39 members from the garlic growing barangays of the municipality. Efforts to revive the garlic industry were undertaken.

In support of the garlic industry, DTI helped in the facilitating of activities and MSME development programs for the association. Several trainings on production, labeling, packaging and product improvements were conducted. The innovative features and processes done were revival of land areas for garlic planting, optimum utilization of small sized garlic and processed food product development.

The processed products have gained wayward popularity locally and abroad making San Nicolas as a haven of healthful products. An array of processed products of the association includes: garlic polvoron, noodles, pickles, flakes, garlic miki, canton and crispy garlic chips (gipang). To maximize the available raw materials and ingredients, they also created new products, one is the crispy garlic chips with malunggay and squash that instantly clicked in the market. Local and national trade fairs participation were of great help to boost not only their income but also their contact to other retailing companies.

As processing progressed and market demand widened, DTI and other national agencies also provided SNBA tools and machineries for production.

With all these developments in the garlic industry, members have already established a strong foundation. Market selling price of garlic jacked up enabling them to sustain a regular source of income.

Truly, the Ilocos white gold has regain its shine and luster. The joint efforts of the farmers, DTI and other government agency played a tremendous role in the realization of the objectives of the SNBA.

The Art Of Abel Paoay Weaving

“Abel Paoay” prepared by our hands, inspired by our hearts
– crafted and painstakingly developed through the years

Handed down from generation to generation, the art of Inabel Weaving is a golden thread entwined in the Ilocano culture. Manually woven through a wooden loom, an abel fabric is made up of pure creativity, imagination, positivity, respect, discipline and keenness.

The municipality of Paoay, Ilocos Norte is considered as the loom weaving center of the province. In Barangay Nagbacalan, most of the residents have loom weaving equipment in their homes. Back in the olden days, Inabel weavers or locally known as Agagabel operate individually, hardly able to buy their own raw thread materials and making do of the only color and type of thread available in the local suppliers. Marketing of their products was also a struggle for they did not know how to properly identify the costing and pricing of their products.

However, as fate may call it, one strong willed Agagabel lady, Charito Cariaga, led the challenge to bare the genuine Ilocano artistry. In 1992, the Nagbacalan Loomweavers Association (NLA) was established. A year after, through the encouragement of DTI and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), the association was converted into a cooperative and was registered to the Cooperative Development Authority.

Through a soft loan from the Cooperative Bank of Ilocos Norte (CBIN), grant from Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and a financial assistance given by DTI, the cooperative operated in full bloom thereby bigger opportunities paved way for the association. Their first big project was when Department of Education Ilocos Norte commissioned them to make uniforms. This was also the time when NLA was able to establish an account with the Manila Coats Bay, a major supplier of textile materials. Direct transaction with Manila Coats Bay was a liberating experience for the weavers and the cooperative, aside from they can buy their raw materials at a cheaper price, wide arrays of colored thread were also made available for their use.

Nothing can stop the feat that Abel Paoay has been gaining as it became the most sought abel producer in the province. They gained their much needed exposure in the market outside the province when the DTI-CITEM through a British Consultant brought their products to Manila to be showcased at a special setting booth. The continuous increase in orders outside the region and the country is also a product of the cooperative’s participation to various provincial and national trade fairs organized and facilitated by the DTI.

The cooperative’s journey from their humble beginning in 1992 with 13 members and a start-up capital of only Php5,200.00 has gone a long way as they can now be considered the icon in the “abel” industry. Today, the cooperative has 30 active members, benefitting also other weaving communities in adjacent barangays with an asset size of approximately P3M, and an average annual sales of P1M, catering to the local and international markets including local and foreign celebrities, couturiers and interior designers. All these became possible with the assistance provided to the cooperative by DTI including the provision of upgraded loom weaving facilities through the SSF Program; provision of trainings to enhance the skills, product, productivity and entrepreneurial capabilities of the cooperative members through the SMERA and Industry Cluster Programs and market development assistance.

Traditionally used for blankets, pillowcases, table runner, bags and other garments, the abel Paoay is one of the exceptional Ilocano crafts that showcase not only of the Agagabel’s knack in weaving but also the greatness of Ilocano culture and tradition.

Veggie Noodles: Crisscrossing Its Way To Success

Travelling to the historic town of Gregorio Del Pilar is a grueling trip because one has to crisscross the Buaya River for about thirteen times and traverse the rugged terrain on the slopes of Mt. Kintangog to reach the town. While travelling through the backbreaking roads, the Mt. Tirad Pass is in full view and one can travel back to 1899 during the historic Battle of Tirad Pass. The town is endowed with abundant natural resources but these agricultural products are sometimes left to rot or fed to animals because farmers find it difficult to transport their products to other municipalities.

In 2005, the local government unit of G. del Pilar identified ginger as their One Town One Product (OTOP). To implement the OTOP Program, the DTI conducted Skills Training on Ginger Processing, provided new packaging and labelling materials and assisted in the marketing of their products. This jumpstarted their zest in processing other agricultural products abundant in the locality. In 2011, the DTI introduced the Veggie Noodle Project by conducting Basic and Skills Upgrading Trainings on Veggie Noodle Processing and provided packaging and labelling materials for the veggie noodles and chips. The Tirad Pass Food Processors Association (TPFPA) was then organized to undertake the project. “The Veggie Noodle Project has changed our lives” said Ms. Dolores Matuque, president of the TFPA because we generated additional income and employment for this women-managed association. We were able to participate in local fairs and in the National Food Fair 2013 at the SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. We have gained more markets because consumers are buying healthy food.

In early 2014, the TFPA was identified as co-operator for the Shared Service Facility (SSF) for a bakery project. According to the association, this project has a great potential to succeed because there is only one bakery in the town and it is located in the far-flung barangay of Concepcion. On November 28, 2014, this dream was finally attained when the DTI formally turned over the SSF equipment for their bakery project. To date, the association processes pandesal three times a day and producing 25 kilos of pandesal. They have generated 21 new employment with the various income generating projects of the association.

“But things do not stop here” said Ms. Matuque. “No matter how difficult it is to travel to our place, it will not deter us from striving to gain wider market and diversify into more product lines to become a truly successful association. We would like to set an example to our fellow women association existing in the province of Ilocos Sur.” She added.

Molding The Modern Art Of Damili

Showcasing exceptional craftsmanship, the art of pottery is a living legacy of Filipino’s rich heritage and culture. Locally known as “Damili” the pottery industry is the major source of livelihood of the “Mannamilis” of Barangay Taboc, San Juan, La Union.,

Clay pots, jars, stoves, and gangis (little clay tub) are some of their conventional pottery products. The red-clay jars and pots may look classic and traditional for some, but for Dozen Baduyen, there is more to these fragile and exquisite handicrafts.

Damili

The twist of fate from regular office worker to entrepreneur happened to Dozen in 2001. He had to quit his job in Manila to go home to San Juan, La Union and look after his sick mother. Given with no other choice, he continued the struggling buy and sell pottery business of his mother. Amidst the limited knowledge he had about the industry, it was a challenge he took.

It was a rough trail for Dozen especially when he had to adjust and endure financial woes, but giving up was never an option. Passionate and inspired to improve his product and market, an idea of creating decorative jars came to his mind.

The regular red-clay jars were given new-look and variations. Well-designed pottery products like hanging lamps, candle holder, oil burner, table lamps and some of his creations painted with colorful designs were eye candies. In 2005, he formally started the Red Clay Pottery Craft, his very own line of creative pots and jars business.

Dozen realized that to maximize the potential of his business, he needed to showcase his products. After visiting DTI Region 1’s Rimat ti Amianan Trade Fair, he saw the advantage of Trade Fair exhibits as an excellent opportunity to sell his products to several markets that could boost his income. Thus, he seek the assistance of DTI La Union on how to join Trade Fairs.

Since then, local and national trade fairs staged Dozen’s products. It was also during a trade fair when a big Product Manufacturing Company noticed his pottery products.

Much to his pride and delight, this company helped him in bringing his products to Europe, New York and Middle East.

Driven to improve his entrepreneurial and technical-know-hows, he also participated in trainings and seminars for MSME development provided by DTI.

Damili

“I have this valuable relationship with DTI. They changed my perception of what ‘Government Service’ is all about. DTI is a working agency and their employees have the sincere desire to help entrepreneurs like me,” he added.

In addition to his collection of contemporary products, Dozen also established the Red Clay Pagdamilian, a place where tourists can see and engage themselves in the actual pottery making.

Inspired by the help of DTI, Dozen wanted to share DTI’s assistance and committed to help other Mannamilis in their area. He bridged their association, Taboc Mannamili Association (TMA), to DTI’s programs and services.

Damili

The traditional and manual process of pottery making requires a lot of rigid labor, thus, slowing down their production especially during rainy seasons. Determined to revitalize the pottery industry, TMA seek the support of DTI through the Shared Service Facilty Project. Tools and equipment were provided to upgrade their pottery production, address the increasing consumer demands and changing trends.

Production process can now be optimized with use of their Clay Mixer which has significantly reduced their processing time by mixing local clay alone from 8-manhours to only 30 minutes now. Transforming this to its production cost would mean also savings on its labor cost, increase in productivity and better quality of products. To date,
“We are thankful to DTI for supporting not only our livelihood but also for strengthening the Damili Industry, the manifestation of our rich culture.” Dozen said with a smile.

 
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