23 October 2010 in TRIBUNE Catanduanes
Local producers a big hit at OKB Trade Fair 2010
Twenty-two producers from Catanduanes returned home feeling good after an eventful week at the Orgullo Kan Bikol (OKB) Regional Trade Fair held at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City from October 7 to 10, 2010.
The producers generated a combined sales of P726,113.00, of which P712,513.00 is cash sales while the remaining amount was for booked orders. Again, the biggest contributor to the sales was the furniture sector as Metro Manila residents continue to be mesmerized by the beautiful and intricate narra creations of ETBal Enterprises. Buyers also marveled at the products of OKB first-timer Gloissancraft, which made heads turn with its pretty handmade-paper bags with caragumoy lining inside and flower accents on the outside.
OKB buyers also lined up for the nutritious pancit bato of Elpedes Pancit Factory, the succulent pili nut candies, achara, special polvoron and coco balls of the Virac Pili Processors Association and the yummy peanut butter of Sarilikha Food Products. The Virac Pili Processors Association had five member-microenterprises who joined the fair – Belen’s Pinahamamis na Pili Atbp, JERDMLS, J n’ D, Catanduanes Deli, and Bing’s Special Pilinut Candy, who sold not only pilinut treats but also papaya pickle (achara), tablea de cacao, ginger ale powder (salabat) and coco jam (santan).
These products also received "wow" reactions from walk-in buyers: quilted bags of Nizzach Crafts; native frames & lamps of Fiberart Enterprises; abaca handmade products of Lucky F Abaca Handicraft, Lydia’s Native Products; caragumoy bags of Pandan Women Weavers Association; and the handmade paper bags of Nilda Traquena. The DTI-CARP booth showcased an array of products made by its assisted groups in Buyo, Patagan, Bato, Biong, San Andres, and Calabnigan.
Catanduanes Bazaar joined the OKB for the first time to promote its Catanduanes souvenir shirts and other items. DTI-RuMEPP products also had the first exposure in a major exhibit with its selection of lasa brooms, abaca hammocks, abaca sinamay flowers, abaca Christmas decors and food items. Incidentally, the Rural Micro Enterprise Promotion Programme (RuMEPP), which is IFAD-funded and implemented in only 19 provinces all over the country including 5 in Bicol, was a major sponsor in this year’s OKB event.
This year’s OKB Trade Fair became an exciting experience for the participating producers as Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad who hails from Gigmoto, Catanduanes graced the occasion as its guest of honor. Ms. Shalani led the ribbon-cutting ceremony with no less than the Catanduanes Vice Governor Jose "Bong" Teves, Jr. assisting her, together with DTI Regional Director Jocelyn Blanco and PHILEXPORT official Ms. Leny Abella.
After the ribbon-cutting, Ms. Soledad was ushered by Teves towards the booths of Catanduanes producers. Ms. Shalani exchanged pleasantries with the local producers for a while before being escorted again to view the exhibits from other Bicol provinces. The Catanduanes producers reveled and felt proud to have received the longest attention from Ms. Shalani. All the exhibitors, officials and visitors inside the hall craned their necks to get a glimpse of the beauteous councilor as many converged around her, posing for a snapshot or getting her autograph.
The Catanduanes producers were even further inspired when high officials of the province came to visit the affair on the 2nd day. Governor Joseph Cua came with wife, Ms. Nancy, and their son. PBMs Nel Azansa, Roger Pereyra, Shirley Abundo, Wilfredo Santelices, Edwin Tanael, Raffy Zuniega and ex-officio PBM Lemuel Surtida, and SP Secretary Ursus De Quiroz also stayed for hours at the fair and chatted with some of the producers. Several town officials were also seen – Mayor Leo Rodriguez of Bato and wife, Mayor Odilon Pascua of Bagamanoc, Mayor Obet Fernandez of Panganiban, and Vice Mayor Ninfa Namata of Pandan.
Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, despite being busy in Congress due to budget hearings, took time to visit, coming late in the afternoon with his two daughters and another lawmaker in tow, Rep. Tom Apacible of Batangas.
The Catanduanes producers were grateful for the support of their local officials, with the provincial government subsidizing 50% of the booth fees and part of the expense for hauling the products to Manila. Governor Cua, in his personal capacity, allowed some of the producers to stay at the RSL quarters in Manila, thus minimizing their daily expenses. The municipal government of Virac also gave financial assistance to Virac Pili Processors Association for its participation in the OKB.
Meanwhile, an OKB special event, the Bicol Investment Conference (BICON) on October 8 at the SM Conference Center showcased presentations of the region’s investment potentials and advantages, topics like tourism prospects, mining, renewable energy, transport services, cattle ranching, moringa and pili plantations.
Hon. Joey Salceda was the keynote speaker as Regional Development Council chair for Bicol. Congressman Luis R. Villafuerte of Camarines Sur also gave an inspiring message on booming investment areas, spicing his speech with personal insights and experiences that delighted the audience a lot. The most significant part was the matching of prospective Manila-based investors, who were also invited to the event, with provincial representatives who backed up their project’s potentials and gave further details about their proposed investment areas.
The Catanduanes team was composed of PBMs Zuniega, Asanza, Abundo, Pereyra, Santelices; SP Secretary de Quiroz; DTI provincial director Ireneo Panti, Jr.; FICELCO officer-in-charge Rodolfo Mendoza, Directors Fidelito Soledad and Atty. Greg Sarmiento; Romeo Aquino of the PPDO; and, Eli Peña of the Provincial Agricultural Support Office. Congressman Cesar Sarmiento was represented by his daughters.
Noteworthy were the initial discussions by the team members with some potential investors – Mr. Rodolfo Azanza Jr., Country Head of SN Power Philippines for renewable energy development and sea transport services (from Codon to Caramoan); Mr. Randy Favis of Fortuna Brahmans for cattle ranching project; Mr. Gil Peña of Goldpoint Construction Corp. for crab culture project; and LCC Legaspi for mall construction here. Meantime, Global Green Power PLC Corporation, thru its President Mr. David Montaigne, signified a keen interest to invest in renewable energy anywhere in Bicol.
Other potential investment areas that Catanduanes enrolled in BICon aside from those mentioned above were the Catanduanes Integrated Transport Terminal, Resort Development of Puraran Beach, and Development of Luyang Park. The Catanduanes Team plans to convene to discuss timetables for follow-up and direct meeting or negotiation with these potential investors before the year ends.