Secretary Ramon Lopez, Mayor Jaime Villanueva, my good friend DTI Regional Director Joy Blanco, DTI Provincial Director Leah Pagao, esteemed guests, Dios marhay na aldaw saindo gabos.
I truly regret not being able to personally attend this morning’s inauguration of the 3rd One Town One Product (OTOP) Philippines Hub here at the Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts (Philceramics).
As Director Joy can attest, I have long been not only a staunch supporter and advocate of Philceramics; I am also an avid fan of its products that are beautiful even as they are functional.
In fact, it was the partnership between my office and DTI Region V that the communal workspace of Philceramics was created, artisans received training in production and design, necessary equipment and machinery acquired, and the products were promoted to a wider market.
The success of the Department of Trade and Industry’s OTOP program, which almost singlehandedly revitalized trade and industry in the grassroots level of hundreds of communities in the Philippines, is a testament to what we can accomplish if government supports small and medium business enterprises and enterprising citizens take a leap of faith and embrace entrepreneurship.
The OTOP program improved and enhanced the already existing yet latent potential and possibilities inherent in small town artisans. For rural areas like Putsan and hundreds of similar communities, OTOP introduced ways of re-branding what they do best and what they have been doing for generations. OTOP encouraged entrepreneurial independence in many of the country’s poorest communities.
This innovative program allowed each local community to: (1) identify one primary product as locally specific; (2) dedicate capital and other resources to its production; (3) establish it as a distinctive local brand; and (4) market it to the entire country and even internationally.
OTOP revitalized depressed and marginalized local communities by combining the production of commodities unique to a place with local pride and human resources development.
Because of OTOP, Tiwi’s local artisans where able to graduate from making coron-coron and badil-badil to producing elegant, well-designed, and functional world-class products. The catchphrase “local yet global” indeed applies to OTOP-backed products – products that are globally accepted and appreciated even as they mirror pride in local culture.
OTOP tapped on the natural potential and capability of local communities and challenged residents to unleash their creative spirit and encouraged self-reliance and cooperation.
But more importantly, the DTI had their back.
Because even before there is a business to support, when would-be entrepreneurs are just deliberating whether or not to take the risk and embark on their commercial journey, they are likely to back out if they are unsure whether the government will mitigate some risks and whether they will receive any support.
This is why OTOP works. It is a partnership between government and the private sector in every sense of the word.
As local businesses grow, their products will also improve, more people will be employed, and productivity and profit will increase. All these enable private citizens to contribute more significantly to the national economy.
Philceramics was my pet project way back in 1994 when its creation was funded under that year’s GAA. Construction and equipment installation began the following year and the Tiwi Production Center, as Philceramics was then called, was operational by 1997. Through the years, I have seen it and Putsan’s local pottery makers prosper and reap the rewards of their hard work and resourcefulness. Like a proud parent, I am delighted that Philceramics has constantly expanded even as the community continues to profit and become progressive and more developed.
Pottery is an ancient art and like the earliest pottery makers, the talented artisans of Putsan use humble clay to produce lovely works of art. With the unfailing support of DTI and the local government of Tiwi, our local craftsmen and women were able to mold and fashion better lives for themselves using literally their own two hands, a long tradition of artistry, and the dark red earth of their birthplace.
To everyone who contributed to the success of Philceramics and the One Town One Product program of the DTI, Dios Mabalos and you can continue counting on my enduring support.