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03 Ayos Sapatos
Leathercraft gains ground in Masbate through SETUP

August 27, 2021

Leathercraft is now slowly but firmly taking a foothold in Masbate, the undisputed Rodeo Capital of the Philippines.  Thanks to Ayos Sapatos, a pioneering local firm in the province to adopt modern technologies in the manufacture of leather products such as bags, belts, key chains, purse, and slippers. This milestone comes as a result of the technological intervention that the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office V (DOST V) provided under the DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).

Ayos Sapatos is a homegrown business established by Precioso R. Baes, a registered nurse working in a local government hospital since 2006.   In 2013, he was lured by the call of entrepreneurship to augment the family’s income.  He said it is better than going abroad far from family.  Drawing inspiration from his relatives in Laguna who are into shoe and bag-making business, he established a shoe repair shop as a complementary business to his wife’s store that sell different food and non-food products including shoes manufactured by their Laguna relatives.

When DOST-Masbate first came to visit Mr. Baes just before the pandemic hit the nation, he was overseeing his staff of three in a 12 square meter shop with manual basic tools and second-hand sewing machines.  Later, he also showed his 38 square meter future workshop right in his own home that is near completion.  He was confident of the direction he is taking to level up the sideline business he has come to love.   However, he lamented that using old equipment with limited capabilities in his engraving, cutting, and sewing operations is such a bottleneck.  Churning out better quality products will not be possible without the right equipment.  As if on cue, DOST-Masbate representatives assured him that SETUP is the key.  In December 4, 2020, Mr. Baes officially became a project cooperator during the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for the project “Upgrading Production Operations of Ayos Sapatos” facilitated by the staff of DOST- Masbate.

Less than two months after fund release in February 23, 2021, Mr. Baes procured one unit each of Laser Engraving Cutting Machine with desktop printer and Electric Leather Sewing Machine.  True to the project’s objectives, the shop is now creating product after product with improved and customized designs as the laser engraving equipment turns out higher outputs from 1-2 bags per week to 2 bags per day.  The machine afforded him to utilize other media such as wood for bag making and other product lines such as trophy.  The firm has already graduated from manual sewing of thick leather as the new electric leather sewing machine does the job best.  Two additional workers were hired as the firm speeds up production to service demand of its fast-growing homegrown customers who have come to love and appreciate his truly Masbate-made creations.

And Mr. Baes has never been optimistic about the firm’s future than now as products leave the shelves faster than before!   His next immediate goal is to produce more items and expand market reach to include Legazpi City and Naga City where he is slowly growing a customer base.  He is also happy and proud to be able to contribute to the tourism industry in Masbate.   Before, people visiting the province could only buy dried fish and pastillas as “pasalubong” items.  Now, they can add as take-home world-class leather products with the brand RL Crafts or short for Rodeo Leathercrafts, manufactured by Ayos Sapatos.

SETUP is one of the flagship programs of DOST that provides innovation fund assistance to encourage SMEs adopt technological innovations to boost productivity and market competitiveness. The nationwide program covers the following sectors: food processing, furniture, gifts, decors, handicrafts, agriculture/marine/aquaculture, metals and engineering, ICT, pharmaceuticals, health, and wellness products.  (MLDela Cruz/JDAlbao, PSTC-Masbate)