Session Road blooms with community OTOP

Baguio City's central business district became an array of One Town, One Product from food, craft and arts, books as well as potted plants being showcased by merchandisers as they join this year's Panagbenga Session Road in Bloom.

Among the perennial trade fair participant is 67 years old Lorna Daud, proprietor of Yulaik Food Product from Naga City. She first joined the Session Road in Bloom trade fair in 2011 and continuously participated to date showcasing food products processed with raw materials that are endemic in her hometown Naga.

"I started processing mango sauce and dried lipote snack in 2009 which I brought to Baguio in 2011 when I first joined the Panagbenga and I was amazed that my P200,000 worth of products was sold out in seven days," Daud said.

From then on, she developed lipote (scientific name: zysygium currantis) into wine after learning from personal readings that this endemic currant in Naga is a good source of calcium and phosphorous that acts as a natural phytochemical agent against cancer. She also processed mango wine, lipote and mango vinegar which she markets by joining trade fairs.

A humble housekeeper, Daud started her food processing enterprise as she tried to find ways in making money from excess ripen carabao mango fruit from her backyard. She said the buying price for freshly harvested mango fruit is not enough to cover household expenses especially when these are already ripe.

"Whenever I go to trade fair in different places, I look at the local products and think how I could also make it using raw materials from our place. That's how I was able to increase my products," Daud explained.

With the help of the Department of Trade and Industry's Go Negosyo program, Daud was able to improve her product packaging which were initially produced from farm input assistance of the Department of Agriculture. Her processing center was developed with the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology.

"Without the assistance from government agencies, small entrepreneurs like me will not be able to improve our products," Daud explained who now has a lemongrass wine and juice added to her line of products.

This year, she brought around P500,000 worth of her products to the Session Road in Bloom which she believes will be sold out at the closing of the trade fair.

Other One Town, One Product from Naga being sold at the Session Road in Bloom are crab paste, dried herbs and pili nuts.

Also showcasing their hometown product is the 5th class municipality of La Paz, Abra bringing in their bamboo handicrafts which were sourced from the locals of barangays Udangan, Liguis and Benben.

Esperanza Barcena, 54 years old, mans the booth with P160,000 total worth of bamboo handicraft products ranging from baskets, table sets, mats, and bags among others. She said she first joined the trade fair in 2007 and was able to get a good return of investment but she got busy joining trade fairs in Manila that she was only able to come back to Baguio this year.

Other OTOP showcased at the Session Road in Bloom include the perennial Marikina shoes and sandals; leather jackets and bags from local entrepreneurs in Baguio; and, the local delicacies and indigenous woven products from the cultural tribes in the Cordillera. Local products delicacies, art and crafts from Nueva Ecija are also present including Bicol handicrafts made from Abaca; and, Marinduque's arrowroot cookies, coco sugar, bagoong and patis, among others.*

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