VIGAN CITY – Innovativeness, artistry, ingenuity, industry. These characterize the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of Ilocos Sur that have been moving towards global competitiveness with the aid of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur (PGIS).
In the past year, many of them have become aggressive in creating new products, concocting new flavours, crafting new textures and designs.
DTI Ilocos Sur Provincial Dirctor Grace Lapastora, CESO V, has been urging the MSMEs, and those who are planning to engage in business, to continue sharpening their skills, developing and adapting new and sustainable ideas to upgrade their products with the help of government and private agencies. Governor Ryan Luis V Singson, on the other hand, assured them of the aid of the provincial government from training, to equipment needed, and marketing the products.
In this year’s Partuat ken Patanor and Agri Fair held during the Kannawidan Ylocos Festival on January 28 to February 17, the most improved one-town-one-products (OTOP) were recognized in various categories such as gifts, decors and housewares, beverage, condiments, preserves and pickles, sweets and desserts, snack foods, and wines. These are the local government unit of San Juan, Sigay Coffee Growers Association, Juanita’s Garlic Products of Sinait, Quirino Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Wynn’s Food Products of Salcedo town, Santa Catalina Food Processors Association, and Belady’s Health Products of Cervantes town.
To inspire MSMEs to keep on improving their products, the DTI and PGIS screened them to recognize the most outstanding entrepreneur for processed foods and non-food categories, woman entrepreneur of the year, and young entrepreneur of the year.
The most outstanding entrepreneur of the year, processed food category is Amanda Gonzales. She is the owner of Amanda Gonzales Food Products in Barangay Capangpangan, Vigan City. From a small meat processing enterprise in 1980’s, producing only longanisa and bagnet, she improved her business producing chicharon and other meat products. The firm continues to uplift the province during trade fairs due to its being a consistent top seller awardee in the processed food sector. As of now, she employs 15 regular workers.
The woman entrepreneur of the year is Maria Flora Ubaldo, owner of Joma’s Tower Café at del Pilar Street, Vigan City. From a barbecue store in the 1990’s, Joma’s became famous for its delicious cakes and pastries and catering services. This significant leap of the firm was because of her and her husband’s persistence to learn more on baking and cooking. And their resilience to bounce back after several setbacks that they faced along the way. Although she grew up with the family business of making cakes and other snack foods, she and her husband kept on attending trainings and seminars to keep up with the latest trends in cooking and taking the assistance from government agencies.
The young entrepreneur of the year is James Clifford P. Quimson who manages Delma’s Vigan Longanisa at Barangay V, Vigan City. With only two years after taking charge of the firm from her mother, he achieved to get the Food and Drug Administration License to Operate increasing the its market. The firm supplies 16 stores of Ever Supermarket and two Fishermall stores. These initiatives of the 29-year old entrepreneur did not only increase sales but also changed the lives of the workers who committed to always comply with food safety regulations to ensure that the products are clean and safe.
The most outstanding entrepreneur of the year, non-food category, is Dominico P. Panela, owner of Rowilda’s Loomweaving located at Barangay Camangaan, Vigan City. At a very young age he acquired his skill of loomweaving by helping his weaver-parents. The firm became famous when it introduced the ‘ikat’ design in its loomwoven products that made a hit in the gifts, decors and houseware sector. It remains as Ilocos Sur’s leading handloomweaving factory, building a niche in all the trade fairs of DTI due to its continuous innovation and market demands sustainability.
DTI has also been helping the youth of the province to become good entrepreneurs. It challenged senior high school and college students to come up with the most innovative business plan. Sinait National High School created pots made of coconut fibres which are considered wastes. Philippine Science High School – Ilocos Region Campus came out with coconut bowls that can be used for eating, and drinking. Ilocos Sur Community College created lanterns made of coconut trunks. Macro Colleges, Inc., Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College, Ilocos Sur Community College and University of Northern Philippines sew clothes made of Abel Iloco.