Following the conferment of 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray as the One Town One Product Philippines (OTOP) Ambassador, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) began preparations for a new video series entitled Raise Your Flag.  

The video series stars Catriona Gray as she promotes the local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the local weaving communities they support. The goals of this initiative are to spread awareness of the beauty of Filipino culture, to promote OTOPreneurs and their products, and to further the advocacy to support and purchase local and quality goods. 

Miss Universe 2018 gives her message

Last August 26 to 29, DTI-OTOP began the production shoot in their first location, Laguna. The first session was taken at the Provincial Capitol where they met with Governor Ramil Hernandez and Vice Governor Karen Agapay. Present there also were DTI-CALABRZON Regional Director Malou Toledo and other provincial board members and heads of municipalities.  

The team visited several weaving communities such as Lumban Embroidery where the OTOP Ambassador experienced the traditional sewing working with three generations of ‘magbuburda’ through OTOPreneur Benson Del Valle. Here, she also met MODA (Modernong Obra, Disenyong Atin) designer Jessycris Baduel.  

To further promote the OTOP stores and initiatives that DTI has been establishing, the team visited Pagsanjan. Present at the courtesy call were Mayor Peter Cassius Trinidad and the Negosyo Center Business Counsellor Adrimar Aquino. They also had another Conferment following this in San Pablo City where Mayor Amben Amante adopted the beauty queen as an illustrious daughter of San Pablo City. 

The Raise Your Flag Laguna goals to visit, promote, and appreciate Filipino culture and resident MSMEs were further pursued as OTOP Ambassador Ms. Catriona Gray visited Ai-She Footwear, the shoemaker famous for creating the original Catriona shoes. At the store, Catriona undertook the process of creating her very own shoes through the guidance of OTOPreneur Ms. Corazon Coligado.  At the Escaba Food Products location, she was given a fiesta reception with the Association of Laguna Food Processors (ALAFOP) highlighting 10 of the heritage and innovative products of the province. 

Our OTOP Ambassador experienced the meaningful life of the local weaving communities and learned more skills such as cotton twinning at Nooks International. Aside from this, she worked through the intricate and eco-friendly process; Upcycled Plastic Weaving, innovated by our local OTOPreneur at Junk Not Handicraft. Here, Catriona met another MODA designer Loj Toñacao and learned more from the local entrepreneurs in terms of providing livelihood to the community as well as creating a path towards sustainability.  

Laguna de Bay, where there is an abundance of Water Hyacinths that turned into a resource for the local MSMEs in Laguna, was an additional stop for the team. DTI’s OTOP Ambassador again experienced firsthand how the crafts are being created using the water-based plant at Rolyolikha and Sarilikha through OTOPreneur Renel Baltrato. 

To end the successful run of the first leg of Raise Your Flag series, they visited the Taytay Falls of Majayjay and had dinner at Infusion Cafe and Deli in Los Baños. 

The Raise Your Flag Laguna initiative was truly able to reach the goals of seeing the importance of learning and advocating our local products, our weaving communities, and our Filipino culture. Adding to the experience, and the gratitude felt, she was honored by DTI CALABARZON with OTOP products from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal & Quezon. The team also expressed thanks to Regional Operations Group Assistant Secretary Demphna Du Naga, and Laguna Provincial Director Susan Palo, for the successful project. 

“As the OTOP Philippines Ambassador, I am lending my platform to our Filipino small businesses, MSMEs, to give them a hand up and to showcase their talent, creativity, and ingenuity along with their stores, in hope that we can overcome the challenges together,” Gray expressed her gratitude to all the local entrepreneurs and weavers on her Instagram with over 10 million followers. 

Throughout the duration of the production, the whole team observed strict health protocols as enforced by the government. The company involved underwent swab testing beforehand and implemented social distancing. 

Regional Operations Group Assistant Secretary Demphna Du-Naga vows her full commitment to continuously uphold the Philippine weaving industry and to flaunt our local crafts made by our Pinoy MSMEs. 

Galing ng Pilipino, Tatak OTOP, Atin to! Let us Rise up and Raise our Flag! ♦

Date of Release: 3 September 2020