12 October 2020

     The Department of Science and Technology Region V (DOST V) Team composed of Engr. Jacinto Alexis B. Elegado, Provincial Science and Technology Director, Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) – Albay represented by Engr. John Paul M. Jacob, PA I; Dr. Rafaelita O. Lucena, Senior Science Research Specialist/GAD Focal Person and Ms. Abegail F. Bustamante, SRA/GAD Staff, recently conducted the project visits and monitoring of two (2) firms enrolled under the Gender Responsive Economic Action for the Transformation (GREAT) of Women Project 2 (GWP2) in the Province of Albay. GWP2 is a convergence undertaking by DOST, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) in the region, led by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). There are three (3) provinces covered namely, Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon, and the priority sectors are Food Processing (Processed Fruits and Nuts, and High Value Crops) and Homestyle and Wearables.

     The local enterprises owned and managed by women micro-entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the Province of Albay include Ben’s Bakers Corporation, Maroroy, Daraga, Albay and HML Foods Corporation, Bagumbayan, Daraga, Albay. Aside from being GWP2  enrolled, both firms are Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) adoptors making use of the equipment provided that improved the firms’ productivity level and capacity. SETUP is DOST’s banner program. The firms also have their Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards compliance, updated certifications, permits and licenses to operate, giving the firm a competitive advantage over those selling same product lines. Policies pertaining to the standard requirements particularly for personnel assigned and procedures in the production area are strictly followed.

     Mesdames Teresita Reginaldo, Accounting Head and Violeta Ramos, Nutritionist/Chairperson of Ben’s Bakery narrated that the firm, one of the oldest bakeries in the municipality since then catered locally with their specialty of pandesal and cassava cake. A variety of breads including those traditional, pili and buko pies, and viands are sold in different outlets in Legazpi City and Daraga, Albay. The family plans to establish a two-storey restaurant with a function hall that will enable them to cater to more product consumers especially during occasions and celebrations. The building construction is now on its finishing touches and expected to be completed before the year ends.

     Another family business, the HML Foods Corporation involves the siblings with Ms. Katrine and Mr. Alfred Llaguno taking charge of the product manufacturing and packaging. Mr. Llaguno shared that the firm continuously cater to local market with their traditionally made bottled delicacies, known as Bicol’s Best with product varieties such as Plain and Spicy Laing and Gulay na Santol; Bicol Express Tinapa and Pork, and Chili Paste. These Bicol’s Best products are delivered and sold throughout the country and available in the HML main office, at their food chain in Quirino and Legazpi City, LCC Supermarkets, Robinson’s Supermarket, SM Supermarket and Hypermarkets, Savemore and City Malls. Aside from the family owned food chain, called the Pares King, Pares Prince and Pares Queen, HML opened a barn park, the “Farm Plate” located at Gabawan, Daraga, Albay. It is open to tourists and locals, providing a serene and tranquil place to destress, unwind and relax. Farm Plate, a   DA – GAWAD SAKA Awardee also has a food menu where guests can choose from among their delicacies/specialties. While serving healthy and local delicacy, the management offers free buko juice as welcome drink. HML Corporation now plans to become an exporter of Bicol’s Best.

     DOST V and PSTC-Albay through the successful implementation of SETUP and GWP2 look forward to a continued improvement in the delivery of S&T services and have more technology adoptors-beneficiaries among the local enterprises. (Engr. J.A.B. Elegado, PSTC-Albay/Dr. P.O. Lucena, DOST V)