Hand-crafted bags, fans, hats, textiles, furniture, local delicacies, spread and crops, among others, are being showcased in a pop-up bazaar held at Aurora Park in this city from Oct. 3-6, 2023.
Participated in by around 28 Sustainable Livelihood Program Associations (SLPAs) from the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan that are currently being assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the bazaar aims to introduce and promote the products to a wider market, said Anniely Ferrer, acting assistant regional director for operations of the DSWD Region 1, in an interview Tuesday.
The bazaar is among the highlights of the 4th SLP Congress in the region where beneficiaries and program implementers convene to strengthen their marketing, network building, collaboration, and partnership engagement with public and private institutions.
SLP is a government program that helps low-income families, particularly those who are affected by poverty and disaster, to improve their livelihood. It provides them with financial assistance, training programs, and access to microfinance loans.
“I am so glad that we have this opportunity to bring and promote our quality products in other places. The reception from new buyers is so inspiring,” said Marilou Sarmiento, president of the Laoac Fabric Remnant SLPA, in an interview during the opening of the bazaar on Tuesday.
Locally-sewn and affordable quality rags, body pillows with cases, and bedsheet sets are among the best-selling products of Sarmiento’s group during the bazaar in this city.
Sarmiento’s group is among the 28 SPLAs, composed of around 700 households in the region, that were granted Security Exchange Commission (SEC) certificates on Tuesday, under the DSWD’s Sulong Security Exchange Commission (SEC) Express program.
“Through the Sulong SEC Express, we were able to expedite their registration in just one day. Prior to that, we trained them on how to prepare their reports and compliances, how to protect their investment, sustain good business practices as well as financial literacy,” said Rogerio Bismonte, partnership officer of the DSWD Region 1.
After obtaining the certificates from the SEC, Bismonte said the SLPA-turned corporations are given a five-year incubation period to be able to qualify and participate in the bidding process of government programs and projects such as feeding programs, and in DSWD’s rehabilitation and care facilities.
DSWD also provides livelihood assistance to individuals like Jovelyn Ragonjan, a seller of iodized salt, garlic, and anchovies in Pasuquin town, Ilocos Norte.
In a media interview, Ragonjan expressed her excitement during the opening of the bazaar as many visitors dropped by her booth and bought products.
“I hope to make good sales with the exposure of our products in the city,” she said, noting that her sales only peak during the holiday season when tourists stop at the various stalls selling agricultural crops and salt along the national highway in Barangay Caruan, Pasuquin.
In her speech, Ferrer enjoined the SPLAs to be patient and work together to fight poverty.
“Maliit man tayo sa ngayon pero unti-unti, tayo ay lalaki at yayabong (We maybe small right now but little by little, we will become bigger and prosper,” she said.
At the end of the bazaar, winners will also be awarded for having the best product presentation and best booth, among others. (PNA)