July 02, 2006

Mercy G. Ramos-Gaño

Shellcraft industry booms in Pagudpud

Pagudpud, is one of Ilocos Norte’s pride of the north. As many may call it, Pagudpud is used to be the Boracay of the north because of its alluring and biologically diverse white sand beaches. This town is very strategic to tourism strategy because of its accessibility to both local and foreign tourists. In fact, the coastal and marine resources which constitute the greatest part of income is generated by the tourism industry.

On the contrary, while all the above-cited scenario is true, this may not sound good but this is the actual scenario. While Pagudpud is very rich in natural resources, you can still see the reality that is happening in a barrio where you can find sitting and gossipping, gambling and delousing each other’s head which surely an eyesore for those tourists visiting the beautiful sceneries in Pagudpud that supposedly trying to escape the extreme pressures and stresses brought by their subsistence activities. But all of these were gone now. Why? This is all because of the shellcraft enterprise.

As I have said, Pagudpud is very rich in natural resources. This will include now the seashells that are seen in the seashore. During high tide, more shells can be picked up and these can be develop into variety of products that our tourists and other visitors going in the area could buy.

It was already two years back since the shellcraft enterprise was given more importance in the town of Pagudpud. This is because through the office of the Local Government Unit of Pagudpud, they observe that the products from seashells when designed are salable to the tourists and other visitors. This geve them the idea to seek the assistance of other agencies that could help them develop the shellcraft ndustry. Through the Municipal Social Welfare Office (MSWO) of Pagudpud, agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Mariano Marcos State Univesity in Batac through its Extension Services Department, Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

The MMSU-Extension Directorate presently implements the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). SIFE is a global non-profit organization active in 48 countries and territories. It is funded by giant business corporations, entrepreneurs, and foundations including government agencies all over the world. The SIFE works in partnership with the business sector and higher education sectors. To date, 300 university campuses in the Philippines have already establsihed their own teams.

Through the SIFE fund realeased by the SIFE World to MMSU with its project “Improving Women’s Lives through Shellcraft Enterprise” MMSU works with other agencies to help them improve their products.

MMSU involves interested students to help develop the rural women particularly on entrepreneurship capabilities and business ethics. At present, fifteen SIFE students are actively involved, however, only four of them participated in the regional and national competition conducted this year.

Enhancement trainings on production design, packaging and marketing, enhancing entrepreneurial capability and simple bookeeping were conducted. With this, the rural women who are engage in the shellcraft industry became aware and more interested of the more opportunities they could get from the venture.

Through the LGU of Pagudpud, stalls were established beside the seashore of Saud, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Since then, the shellcraft makers will no longer be going around the beaches seeking for customers who could possibly buy their products. Not only that, after they have attended the trainings conducted, you could already see the development brough about by their attendance to trainings. A varietry of products, that is, from personal accessories to house decors, flower vases, and the like. This means that, with better products, means more buyers. More buyers, means more sales, more sales, means more income for the shellcraft makers.

During peak season, the shellcraft makers could earn an average income of P7,500.00/month (November-May) while during lean months (June-October), the shellcraft makers could earn an average of P2,500.00/month. Their products are sold at a minimum range starting P15-20.00 from personal accessories and house decors. Others are sold at P200-300.00 for the bigger items. The shellcraft makers, at an average, for the bigger items like flower base or house décor, they could spent P80.00 from the direct materials like shells and other materials including their labor. With a 90 percent mark up, they would sold the material of up to P150.00 less their expenses of P80.00, this will give them P70.00 income/item. For the costs of bracelets, they would need to spend P15.00 for the materials including labor. With 75 percent mark up, they would sold the material to P25.00 less P15.00 for the expenditures, this will still give the shellcraft makers P10.00 profit. This venture is considered to be a profitable venture considering the number of visitors going in and out of the area.

To date, the shellcraft makers do not only prepare for the tourists. Because of the continued promotion of shellcraft products, souvenir items for special occassions like wedding, baptism, graduation and birthdays are also made and are sold at a reasonable price.l All these were accomplished through the acquisition of new equipment like drilling machine, grinder and cutter to ensure better presentation of products. These equipments were acquired through the support of JICA giving an amount of P50,000.00.

To continuesly promote the project, the MMSU-SIFE presented the highlights of accomplishments in Olongapo City last May 19 during the SIFE Regional exposition sponsored by SIFE. This is to screen qualified teams to compete for the SIFE National Exposition.

Fortunate enough, the MMSU-SIFE team was one of the five teams selected for the national competion who come form Luzon. The National competition was conducted last June 16 at the Bayview Park Hotel in Manila. Sixteen teams competed for the semi-final round where MMSU, again emerged as one of the teams to compete for the antional winner. During the final round, judges from the different companies sponsoring the SIFE project screened the teams to look for the team who could really qualify for the SIFE World Cup. The MMSU-SIFE team this year as they presented the accomplishments of this year’s project was a blessing for the MMSU community. After the competition, the judjes announced MMSU as the National Champion and will be representing the Philippines in the SIFE WORLD CUP this coming September 10-20, 2006 which will be conducted in Parish France. All expenses will be paid for by the SIFE project. The four students who showed their commitment and talent and to bring MMSU and Pagudpud in the world arena are: Janill Magano, BS Biology II II, CAS); Joyce Rallojay (BA Socio III, CAS); Nathaniel Alonzo (BS Computer Science III) and Pathrich Joseph Sadornas (BS Accountancy III, CBEA). The SIFErs was accompanied and will be accompanied by the adviser to Parish, Bella Gervacio, Section Chief, Training and Continuing Education Section, extension Directorate.

At present, through the different agencies involved in helping to develop the shellcraft industry in Pagudpud is the creation of the shellcraft makers, their organization including their constitution and by-laws. With the organization of the shellcraft makers, the agencies helping them believed that this will help them stabilize the pricing of their products. This will also give them more opportunities to link with other agencies/institutions and market outlets that could help them in the promotion of their products.

The project, at present, is now helping 50 women folks in augmenting their family income. Before, the housewives will just wait for their husbands to go on fishing, but now, the shellcraft makers is now becoming a family enterprise. As what Mr. Fidelberto Curammeng, the Brgy. Chairman of Saud, pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, you could no longer see them gambing, gossiping, and delousing other’s head. They are now busy in the production of shellcrafts to meet the demands of their clients.

At present, MMSU, in cooperation with the DTI and the Pagudpud-MSWO, is working for the registration of the organization at the Department of Labor and Employment.

The sustainability of the project is attained with continuous motivation among rural women. This can be achieved by making them understand of their roles as they continue to strive for their dreams, not only for their families but also for themselves.

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