Baguio City’s silvercraft unmasks silver linings for small businesses; eyes new markets in the ‘new normal’
Domestic trading for small manufacturing businesses, especially those under non- essential industries have been greatly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. While majority await the discovery of COVID-19 vaccine, workers under these industries were left in a quandary on whether they should shift their business to another industry, hold on and wait for things to stabilize or give up altogether. Among these non- essential businesses is the jewelry industry which is responsible in providing employment to more than 100,000 workers nationwide, according to Board of Investments (BOI).
In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) particularly Baguio City, the Silver Jewelry Industry was a thriving industry sustained by various handicraft shops specializing in silver jewelry and other filigree products. Notwithstanding its problems, the silver craft industry still generates revenue for the region, making Baguio City famous not only for its cool climate and temperate fruits and vegetables but also for the abundance of silver jewelry products.
TAWIDCRAFT Corporation; the journey of a silvercraft
An epitome of one such thriving industry is the TAWIDCRAFT Corporation, an enterprise that specializes in the production of fine quality silver jewelry products. Tawid, an Igorot term which means inheritance, was a term explicitly chosen by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Rimando, to convey to its customers the fact that indeed their products are worth handing down from generation to generation.
TAWIDCRAFT joined the silvercraft industry in 1992 and was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry in the same year. The enterprise, which is blessed with artistic and creative owners has since then joined various productivity missions here and abroad to enhance their skills, widen their perspectives and update the corporation on the existing trends in the silver craft industry.
The company started from a basic mano-mano processes in producing jewelry which is still being practiced at present for some products, since it can only be produced by hand. With a meager initial capitalization of Php10,000.00, the TAWIDCRAFT has grown into one of the bigger businesses in the industry, which is now supplying SM Boutiques, in addition to trade fairs and exhibits where TAWIDCRAFT showcases its fine quality silver jewelry products. In fact, the corporation started producing its silver jewelry in a shed at the back of the proprietors’ residence. Now, a 3-storey building is being used for production with the top floor as a showcase room of their silver jewelry products.
DOST upgrades TAWIDCRAFT; the silver lining
In 1999, the Department of Science and Technology-CAR provided technological support with the provision of two equipment i.e. electric wax injector and steam dewaxer, through its Regional Grants-in-Aid (GIA) program. In 2001, the TAWIDCRAFT Corporation was once again assisted by DOST-CAR through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). The program invested Php200,000.00 for the acquisition of several equipment such as M Rotary Tumbler, Vulcanizer, Foredom CC-FCT-30 Motor and Automatic Vacuum Wax Injector. Aside from these, Mrs. Rimando joined DOST-CAR sponsored seminars on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and Packaging and Labeling.
DOST-CAR also provided technical consultancy services in 2007 through DOST’s Manufacturing Productivity Extension (MPEX) Program. Through the MPEX, the enterprise was able to reinforce its strengths, resolve its weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. Further, a strategic planning workshop was conducted on May 23, 2008 with the Calzado Management Consultancy to come up with a draft vision, mission and growth strategy that reflects the TAWIDCRAFT’s legacy of fine quality work and unique designs, excellent management skills and commitment to customer satisfaction.
In 2010, the company availed of another SETUP assistance with the project entitled “Sterling Tableware: A New Direction in Silvercrafts Manufacturing for Tawid Crafts.” This project focused on the provision of technology interventions to enable the firm to diversify products to include sterling silver tableware, increase production and expand market outlets.
DOST’s provision of technology interventions through the years, coupled with the hard work and determination of the company to succeed in the business has resulted to the improvement of production efficiency and product quality. The continuous R&D on product and process has resulted to product expansion and diversification, one of which is the above-mentioned production of sterling silver tableware. Moreover, the company has supported the local employment of Baguio City with the 16 direct and 11 indirect employments.
Hopes turn into realities; TAWIDCRAFTS innovates additional products
The continuous research and development on products and processes have resulted to product expansion and diversification, some of these are faster waxing, lost wax and centrifugal casting, improved prototyping methods through rubber mold production, improved finishing stages efficiency, and improved benchworking processes.
“Part of our marketing is taking care of our loyal patrons. We try our best to provide a solution to their needs. We never say no to them until we have exhausted every possible way to help. As a result, our customers have been spreading our name through word of mouth to their families and friends, who in turn come to us with other products that they want to purchase,” said Daniel Rimando, TAWIDCRAFT manager and the owner’s son.
He also added that their latest innovation is incorporating weaving into the processes to produce a new set of designs that would cater to a new demand from the market. They have also tried venturing into Gold jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings, as there is also a market in the wedding events.
TAWIDCRAFT, surviving the COVID-19 crisis
Being in the luxury items industry, the company have reported no sales since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. This pandemic has restricted its operations but its savings and financial aid from the government has helped and sustained its workers and their families during this crisis.
COVID-19 may be the invisible enemy that is slowly tearing down and burying the dreams of non-essential business workers but this did not deter TAWIDCRAFT. Instead, it is now more determined to find ways to gain back the demand for the industry and in turn maintain the jobs of its workers.
TAWIDCRAFT continues to advertise its products in several local bazaars and is looking into various options on marketing strategies to reach a wider set of customers. At present, it is strengthening its online marketing platforms during the ‘new normal’. For now, the company can be reached through their social media accounts but it will be launching its own website, tawidsilver.com soon. // DOST-CAR S&T Promotion Unit
Despite the threats from the COVID-19, 29 DOST scholars in CAR volunteered their services to front line offices, frontliners, and to communities affected most by the pandemic.
Lobbying the #WeWorkAsOne, the 29 scholars conducted voluntary activities in their respective municipalities/provinces through their own initiative and resources. In Baguio City and Benguet, 20 scholars rendered services in several agencies and checkpoints. Among their volunteer tasks is assisting in the implementation of the DSWD's Social Amelioration Program (SAP) particularly in data validation, data cross matching, and encoding. Other scholars organized and contributed to fundraising activities to purchase additional relief packs for affected families. Meanwhile, others joined in repacking and distribution of relief goods and snacks for frontliners in their respective communities.
Two (2) DOST scholars in Ifugao also funded and distributed relief packs and multivitamins for front liners and other affected individuals in their respective barangays. Further, three (3) scholars in Laguna, Cagayan, and Pangasinan also helped in the distribution of donations, assisted in the Organization Banatao Scholars Donation Drive, and supported the Project SIBOL donation drive that provides food packs to underprivileged families and individuals, respectively.
Further, two (4) graduate-scholars joined the Bayanihan as they helped in repacking and distributing relief goods and meals to stranded students and acted as security officers in various checkpoints in their barangays. Face shields were also distributed to drivers and vendors while others assisted in the production of ethyl alcohol which were donated in several universities.
Indeed, the sense of patriotism instilled to the DOST scholars all over the country has come to the fore when the pandemic hit the Philippines. The ripple effect of these brave and selfless efforts by young students is what the country needs now as we all work together so that #WeHealAsOne.// DOST-CAR S&T Promotion Unit
The Department of Science and Technology – CAR, is indeed shifting to the new normal as it conducts its first online orientation for new scholarship qualifiers through Google Meet application and Facebook Live.
The online orientation was held in four (4) batches, catering to qualifiers from Baguio City on June 16, 2020; Benguet on June 17, 2020; Apayao, Kalinga and Mountain Province on June 18, 2020; and finally, Ifugao on June 22, 2020. A total of 201 qualifiers with their parent/legal guardian attended the said orientation.
Dr. Nancy A. Bantog, DOST-CAR Regional Director, congratulated and encouraged the qualifiers as well as their parents citing John C. Maxwell when he wrote, “Our lives are to be a river, not a reservoir. What we have should flow through us to others.”
The scholarship unit spearheaded the orientation on policies including financial privileges and obligations of DOST scholars. DOST scholars enjoy privileges such as tuition fee of Php 40,000.00 per academic year, monthly allowance of Php 7,000.00, book allowance of Php 10,000.00 per academic year, P.E. uniform allowance of 1,000.00, thesis allowance of Php 10,000.00, transportation allowance, group insurance, and PE/MS Uniform allowance.
Qualifiers who decided to avail of the scholarship were then instructed to download the scholarship agreement and submit signed documents to the Provincial S&T Centers in their respective provinces or at the DOST-CAR Regional Office.
Meanwhile, the DOST – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) has opened its online application for the 2021 DOST-SEI S&T Undergraduate Scholarships for incoming Grade 12 students of AY 2020-2021. This is open to students who intend to pursue STEM courses when they enroll in college next school year.
Eligible applicants for the scholarship must be a natural-born Filipinos with good moral character and in good health. The application is open to all STEM students who belong to the graduating class and to non-STEM students who belong to the upper top five percent (5%) of the graduating class.
Interested and qualified applicants may apply online through https://www.science-scholarships.ph/. The deadline for the application is on August 28, 2020 while the examination is set on October 25, 2020.//DOST-CAR Scholarship Unit
One day, Mang Mario suffered from fever and sore throat for a week. He was worried that he might have been infected with COVID-19 so he got his phone and reported himself immediately to their municipality through the DOST’s FASSSTER and TanodCOVID. Because of this, the authorities were able to conduct immediate surveillance in Mang Mario’s neighborhood to save them from possible COVID-19 threats while they await his test results. Mang Mario works as security guard in one of the big grocery stores. Since the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was implemented, he reports to duty every day to assist customers.
The Department of Science and Technology- Cordillera Administrative Region (DOST-CAR) is keen on deploying the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSSTER) and TanodCOVID to help LGUs fast track possible interventions and contact tracing whenever COVID-19 symptoms occurred in a community.
FASSSTER is a web application designed for use by disease modellers, disease surveillance units, planners, and researchers. In partnership with the Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, and the Ateneo de Manila University, FASSSTER aims to provide a user-friendly tool for modeling disease spreads in the Philippines to aid in the DOH's disease surveillance efforts. FASSSTER takes a multi-dimensional approach in modeling disease spreads by using localized indices from Philippine health records and by integrating other data sources including but not limited to: disease and event surveillance systems and electronic medical records.
Meanwhile, TanodCOVID, a component of FASSSTER is for the reporting of COVID19 related symptoms that the individual is experiencing thru free text messaging which the LGUs can validate thru the TanodCOVID system. Map visualizations and report generation are some of the features of the system to aid LGUs in monitoring and decision making. The TanodCOVID system is one of the sources of data for the DOH systems and the FASSSTER system.
On May 13, 2020, the use of FASSSTER was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) through the Resolution No. 36, items H and I. It also endorsed TanodCOVID to LGUs as one of the tools for contact tracing and monitoring through the Omnibus Guidelines, Section 8, item 5, which was approved on May 22, 2020.
As of June 2, 2020, there are forty (40) registered users of FASSSTER in the region. Likewise, LGUs LA Trinidad and Mankayan of the Benguet Province have started the operationalization of TANODCOVID in their municipalities. Technical assistance in project deployment may also be provided to users.