The members of the cluster team for the Wearables and Homestyle Industry convened on 20 October 2017 at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Santiago City Negosyo Center to hold their 2nd Cluster Meeting. The industry is considered one of the priorities in Region 02 and had been receiving a lot of interventions especially on product development and technology promotion. Thus, the meeting was held to simultaneously conduct a learning visit to Region 02’s Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) located in the city.

Mr. Michael Paggabao, Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist of the DTI Region 02 facilitated the meeting.

Ms. April Joyce Ronquillo, FabLab Technician presented the services of the Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab). She also expounded on the different equipment of the FabLab, their uses and capacity. Finally, she discussed the applicable fees for the availment of FabLab services and emphasized that because of time and cost considerations, the facility is only ideal for prototyping. After the orientation, the participants had an opportunity to have a first-hand experience of the FabLab. The MSMEs manifested their strong interest to take advantage of the facility for prototype testing, training and others.

Ms. Myra Dayag from the Enforcement Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discussed the log ban issued by Department specifically on the totally banned and regulated wood species. She emphasized that there is a total ban for all trees in natural forests. However, she clarified that trees in private plantations are harvestable subject to some rules such as compliance to cutting permits and registration for certificate of ownership.

The presentation of DENR was openly accepted by the members and many issues were raised by the members. These include the concern of furniture makers on the standardization and streamlining of checkpoint procedures and a shift towards a more business-friendly operation. It was agreed further that the members of the cluster team document their observations to come up with sufficient facts in support to those concerns.

Another issue raised is the insufficiency of wood sources as a result of the log ban which in turn hinders the growth of furniture businesses. It is however settled that the log ban is a lawful exercise of the government’s police power for the protection of the next generation. The discussions went on in agreeing for the solutions which include supply matching with NGP beneficiaries of DENR, organization of a regional furniture maker’s association to engage in bulk buying and most importantly a commitment from the members to start planting if not for them, for future furniture makers of the next generations.

Ms. Rocela Angelica Gorospe of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) gave a presentation on the programs and services of the department in support to the sectors under the Wearables and Homestyle Industry.

A workshop on the identification of Provincial Icons was also conducted during the activity. The provincial icons are those which are distinct in each province which may be integrated in the product and designs of the MSMEs. These icons add pride to the province and generate value additions for the products of the Wearables and Homestyle Industry in the region.

Finally, before the adjournment, the resolution of the cluster team recommending to Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) some competencies needed for the industry was reviewed and approved by the body.♦