The Bila Rural Improvement Development (BiRD) Club

Brgy. Bila, Bauko, Mountain Province

It all started over a pot of coffee along with a discussion about the history and simple community life in Bila, Bauko Mountain Province where a group of young women came together to chat and relax before retiring for the night. Shifting from the usual topics, the group related their observations on the situation of the local coffee industry where the idea of venturing into the industry came up.

Although armed only with limited knowledge, three among the group were invited by DTI to participate in the Coffee 101 training way back in 2011 in Baguio City. From this, they came up with a Back Home Plan to consolidate and trade coffee beans.

However, realizing the potential of the coffee industry in Mountain Province, the opportunity laid before them goes beyond consolidating and trading green beans. Along with this, they then named their group as the “Bila Rural Development Club” or simply BiRD Club consistent with the aim to soar and fly high with their dreams. With that, they decided to try a hand in coffee processing.

CAR Mountain Province Bila Rural Development Club (BiRD Club) 01CAR Mountain Province Bila Rural Development Club (BiRD Club) 02

Reality may have dictated the absence of a processing center and needed equipment, but the group sought the roasting services of an establishment in the nearby municipality of Sagada.

Faced with the high cost of the process, the group then sought assistance from government agencies most especially the Department of Trade and Industry for the procurement of needed facilities through the Shared Service Facility (SSF) Program. After partnering with the Dang-dang-ay Di Ibila Multi-Purpose Cooperative where most of the members of BiRD club are also part, the group was able to benefit from the said program.

With the launching of their SSF in 2014, it invited better opportunities for the group. Today, it is providing roasting services for Individuals, SMEs and organizations in the nearby municipality of Tadian and in the locality of Bauko. Aside from that, BiRD Club, prides itself with its premium coffee, a product of functional facilities, continuous trainings undergone and learnings gained thus raising the quality improvement of coffee in the Province.

Further, the club also provides regular supplies to local markets in Maountain Province and in establishments outside the province such as the Health 100 and Porta Vaga in Baguio City.

CAR Mountain Province Bila Rural Development Club (BiRD Club) 03CAR Mountain Province Bila Rural Development Club (BiRD Club) 04

Aside from their President being invited as resource person during trainings and seminars on Coffee production, their processing facility in itself serves as an educational hub or on-site learning facility. This is where technical information is shared to farmers availing of its roasting services, and where individuals, students and other organizations through organized educational tours can have a first-hand experience in observing the whole process in the coffee production. The latest of which to visit the facility is a group coming all the way from the UNISG-University of Gastronomic Sciences from Italy.

Moreover, with all the experience in coffee production and processing, BiRD Club members replicated these in other product focus such as, insumix, wine and peanut as it continuously levels up worthy of its name especially that it has already.

Mary Ann's Souvenir & Gift Shop

Banaue, Ifugao’s Mary Ann’s Souvenir and Gift Shop was registered and established in 1992 with an initial capitalization of PhP100,000 and employment of four. Specializing in souvenirs and novelty items, the shop located at Poblacion, Banaue, Ifugao produces and a manufactures various woodcarvings and other handicraft products which are sold to tourists. These items are also sold to bigger buyers in Manila, Tagaytay and Cebu and exporters.

Owned and managed by Mary Ann Tacio, who is a residence of Banaue, Ifugao, the gift shop engaged in the production and manufacturing of woodcarving products primarily souvenirs, Wearable & Homestyle and novelty items.

As part of the Trade Facilitation and Marketing Assistance of DTI-Ifugao, Mary Ann’s Souvenir and Gift Shop was regularly invited for trade fairs participation. Tacio was able to attend various provincial trade fairs that made her qualified to participate in the regional trade fairs and eventually qualified her to participate in various national trade fairs like CITEM’s Manila Fame, National Art Crafts, and other National Trade Fairs being conducted all year round.

After qualifying to participate in the 2nd phase Manila Fame Exhibits and selling fair at the World Trade Center and the Sikat Pinoy National Arts and Craft Trade Fair at the Megamall, Mandaluyong City, Ann’s Souvenir Shop was also endorsed to participate in the Regional Trade Fair at Fiesta Mall, Alabang.

The enterprise was able to participate in various trainings like Negotiation Techniques and Skills training, Productivity Enhancement, Business Management and other entrepreneurial trainings.

Also, Ms. Tacio availed of productivity improvement and enhancement having been consistently endorsed to designers from Manila for product designs. Her shop was entered and included in the Export Pathways Program in 2008 with level 3 as the entry stage. As a growing business, the shop was endorsed to PLGU for the Ifugao Certified Products.

With DTI’s Trade Facilitation and Marketing Assistance Ms. Tacio’s enterprise was able to maintain three big buyers in Manila who are into domestic and export markets, the Christian Ventures, Balikbayan Handicrafts and Grandma’s Handicraft.

At least fifteen new product designs were recently introduced and a systematic production schedules were likewise introduced. For the CY 2016, Tacio’s firm recorded a total of 2.2M as of August 31, 2016. The increase in sales each year was attributed to the increase of buyers, joining trade fairs and improved designs from enhance prototypes. From the initial investment of Php 100,000.00.

The firm has reached an investment size of 5M from an initial employment of 4. Today, Tacio’s enterprise already employs and maintains at least 12 regular workers and 10 contracted workers. From level 3 as an entry stage of the EPP, the firm is now marked at stage 5 and soon to graduate from the EPP classifications.

Person With Disabillity Trains Weavers During DTI Negosyo Center Training

Exemplifying the saying “action speaks louder than words,” Carol, a hearing and speech impaired lady, trained a group of weavers on bags making, a DTI sponsored fabric conversion skills training held recently in Lagawe, Ifugao.

Rising to the occasion, Carol ably taught the 14 participants the skills on how to sew loomwoven fabric into admirable bags.

DTI Negosyo Center Lagawe, Ifugao

Consistent with the principle of equal opportunity for all, the DTI-Ifugao Provincial Office tapped her as the resource person for the training. After all, she owns the hands that have sewn the much coveted Ifugao made loomwoven bags in the province. Her bags were always a favorite during DTI organized municipal and provincial trade fairs.

Through hands-on and sign language, she demonstrated to the participants the best way to compute the measurement, make the pattern, cut the loomwoven fabric, and sew this into purses and backpack prototypes. Afterwards, the participants followed the procedure and got to sew on their own with her guidance. At the end of the training, the participants were able to produce replicas of the prototypes.

DTI staff Lovelyn Grace K. Cayapa said that overall, the participants were satisfied with how Carol transferred her skills secrets. She said that they were happy with the outcome, only that they had to concentrate more on her to be able to understand what she was trying to point out.

DTI Negosyo Center Lagawe, Ifugao

Carol B. Tamawa used to sew sling bags, backpacks, and purses for women entrepreneurs operating in Banaue, Hingyon, and Lagawe. Among those who tapped her sewing services was Ifugao Weaving Products, one of DTI’s clients. For quite some time, Ifugao Weaving Products enjoyed the privilege of having Carol sew its DTI designed camera bag. The first prototype of the bag became a hit in succeeding DTI organized trade fairs.

Carol had always delighted patrons with her superior sewing services and loomwoven bags. This has kept buyers coming back for more. But in 2012, she opted to start her own business and registered this with the DTI under the business name – Carol’s Ifugao Native Bags. Since then, she sews and sells her own bags with the label – Carol’s Bag, Hingyon, Ifugao. Her bags come crisp and clean and first- rate, no one would think these were sewn in one of the unknown Barangays of Ifugao, but it’s the label that gives it away.

In support of her livelihood, and having recognized early on her potentials and the effect of her contribution to the business growth of other women enterprises in the Province, the DTI accessed the PDAF of Congressman Teddy B. Baguilat Jr. to fund the acquisition of her high speed sewing machine in 2013. Later in early 2016, because she needed a manual sewing machine to match the volume and type of sewing jobs coming her way, she was granted an SSF funded manual sewing machine.

In October this year, she will be going to Manila to participate for the first time in the DTI-CAR organized 2016 IMPAKABSAT Regional Trade Fair. 

Frustration To Inspiration

From the hinterlands of the Cordillera, a resilient couple hitched their hopes in the lowly saba, a common banana which is used as ingredient to Filipino dishes and sweetened desserts. Discouraged by the trading practices for fresh bananas, they slowly evolved from small frying pan into 3-vat production of tasty and crispy banana chips.

“If you don’t like to buy my banana, I will earn money from them,” said a frustrated Manang Linda when a trader refused to buy her saba and wanted only her lakatan.

Determined to fulfill her statement, she started to cook banana chips in the ordinary frying pan which at first were greasy and sold them in small cellophane packages at the nearby elementary school.

A graduate of BS in Social Work, Erlinda Gasatan has no knowledge in food processing. The pupils complained that her banana chips were so hard. Not once did she increase the size of her packaging but maintained the price just so to be able to sell. Conner was very far from the government center but she took the time and went to ask assistance from an agency known to promote food businesses. She was dismayed because the advice was for her to join an association in order to be eligible for government assistance. Down but not out, her determination was fueled so she made self-discovery in the best processing methods. Trial after frustrating trial she persevered until at last, she found the right taste that was acceptable to the school children.

By sheer ingenuity, they increased production by constructing a small oven at the back of their nipa house. This was a cut oil drum covered with concrete. It was crude, but it was what they can afford and it served the purpose at that time.

Gasatan Banana Chips

Being a CARP beneficiary, enter the DTI with their businesses diagnosis and consultancies for MSMEs. The establishment was found wanting in almost all aspects of business.

“I was reluctant at first to heed the advice of the DTI because it meant money and I have to send my children to school” admitted Manang Linda. First is the packaging. She closed her eyes and purchased cellophane packaging that gave a longer shelf life. A computer-printed label is stapled to identify it as Gasatan Banana Chips. The Product was introduced through numerous Municipal, Provincial and Regional Trade Fairs. Then she was linked and advised to penetrate the other local markets such as school canteens and bigger groceries in Apayao, Kalinga and Cagayan. She was also invited to attend some entrepreneurship development seminars, one of which is the BEST Game that she found most informative.

Wanting to share their blessings to their neighbors, the couple assisted in the organization of the Karikitan Food Association. These served as their raw material source in many of their developed products. While maintaining the sweetened and unsweetened banana chips as their main product, they have diversified in taro chips, chili paste, chili powder, their successful turmeric tea and the most recent banana vinegar.

“I acknowledge that there is still a long way to go towards the development of our enterprise, but as it is, I am already thankful for the benefits that banana chips making has done for my family and my neighbors” said a grateful Manang Linda. “While we are still these poor peasants, we were able to improve our house, purchase a small tract of land, own a brand new delivery vehicle but most of all send our children to school” she added. In fact, their first child has just graduated Bachelor of Laws last April 2015, their second child is an architecture student at the Saint Louis University in Baguio and the rest are still in high school.

Four college graduates were also produced by their four full time workers who, just like them are fully dependent on the banana chips business for their livelihood. Add the benefits derived by their neighbors through their part time labors and in the supply of raw materials.

“I thank God for all His blessings and I thank the instruments He used in pushing me in my business, especially the DTI. And I am still expecting for more hand holding for my success will not only benefit me but our whole community” ended Manang Linda.

Natural Metaphors Body Products

Natural Metaphors Body Products is a manufacturer of natural and enzyme-based soaps that are proven effective in exfoliating, moisturizing and rejuvenating the skin. Run by a family owned enterprise with Melody Ayupan the daughter as proprietor, researcher and production manager, Lorna Jane Ayupan, the mother as operations and sales manager and Robinson Ayupan, the father as the market researcher and developer.

The business started in Santiago, Isabela where the family was based in 2003. Rice bran and coconut oil were the basic ingredients of the first soap manufactured. Guided by a chemist relative, Melody at a young age of fifteen with no formal training in chemistry used kitchen pots and ladles to mix the ingredients with a small wooden box as mould. At the start, the soap was intended for family use only considering that Melody was also having allergic reactions to the common soaps in the market. Sometimes, when the mood overcomes Melody, she doubles the recipe to include gifts to friends and relatives. To her surprise, those who tried the soap returned to order additional pieces for their use and to give as gifts or pasalubongs to friends and family.

In 2007, the family moved to La Trinidad, Benguet and repeated their success with the soap making business. New found friends who tried the products were impressed and became regular customers. Natural Metaphors Body Products was registered with DTI-Benguet on the same year. With the assistance of the local DTI office and the La Trinidad LGU, the home made soaps were exhibited in different local trade fairs. As a result of these product exposures, orders have increased far beyond the family’s expectation. They had to rent a small soap making facility in the lowlands and hire contractual workers to accommodate the orders. Eventually, a minimum of 300 pieces of soap (150 gms) are being ordered monthly.

With research and assistance from professional friends, the family ventured into processing other soaps such as gluthatione, collagen, salad bar, goat milk, oatmeal and strawberry soaps. Metaphors strawberry soap and Metaphors strawberry feminine wash are the centerpiece productions of the business, inspired by the ONE TOWN ONE PRODUCT of La Trinidad, Benguet which is strawberry.

From an initial capital of P10,000, the family had to avail of additional working capital from the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation. A rich benefactor sympathetic to their cause added in a sizable amount to jumpstart volume production. The funds were used to build a small soap making laboratory at their La Trinidad home. Additional financing from the Local Government of La Trinidad and technical assistance from DOST Set-up program further boosted the production and marketing capability of the firm. The business maintains a product outlet at the Old Market Building in Km. 5, La Trinidad, Benguet.

Natural Metaphors Body Products

Ms. Lorna Ayupan has been very active in pushing the products during trade fairs and various exhibits like Panagbenga, Impakabsat, Adivay, Lang-ay and Strawberry Festival. Their first trade fair experiences were unforgettable as she described the waves of people who came to their booths to buy their products from early morning to closing time. These developments inspired the family to improve their products even more. They availed of product development workshops to explore labeling and packaging possibilities that will further boost appearance of the products. They have been active in attending various government livelihood fora and seminars. On various occasions, they were invited to share their success story on TV, print and other media. These media coverage have enhanced sales of Metaphors tremendously. The firm employs the direct selling approach to their products, with word of mouth as best advertising.

Natural Metaphors Body Products

Putting aside the boundless energies of the family in promoting their product, the products’ other appeal lie in the use of natural and organic ingredients. These products provide an excellent alternative to people who want to go back to the basics. What also personifies the business enterprise is the teamwork of the family members, with the daughter and father focusing on the research and production side, this leaves the mother, Lorna, with her genial personality in the forefront of the business operations. To cap their achievement as a family, Melody was selected as one of the Go Negosyo Ten Most Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs in 2009, one among the ten national awardees. They were feted in a highly publicized national affair where she brought home a Nokia Special Award and BPI Family Bank Award.

Today, the company has a minimum production of 2,000 pieces a month. It manufactures nearly 12 soap variants including the top sellers strawberry soap and charcoal soap. It has 13 people under its direct employ plus a contingent of satisfied customers, individuals, students, dealers and institutions distributing the products down the line and earning a regular income from the activity. The company has its own shares of struggles but their quest for healthy and effective products will not be deterred.

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