Press Releases

In a sea of people during bazaars, it might be hard not to notice the busiest lady of them all. She would take every opportunity to market the products of her organization carrying the brand, Don Alfredo’s, named after her late spouse. From local bazaars, the bedding sheets manufactured by the group are now available in certain malls such as Solenad, Vista Mall, and Robinsons Galleria.

Meet Ms. Normita Z. Aquino, popularly known as “Manang Normie” of San Pedro City. She organized the group as a Workers’ Association registered under the name, Samahan ng Kababaihan ng Laguna (SKL) – Maryland Chapter. It was not an easy feat for a widow who was able to manage home and work responsibilities at the same time.

Manang Normie opened some free space at home to accommodate the production of curtains, bedding sheets, and pillows. There are already two production rooms frequented by the members where they can use the sewing machines to turn fabrics into useful products. Given the proximity of the work areas, supervision to ensure productivity was conveniently undertaken.

It all started with four sewing machines along with some fabrics all donated by the City Government of San Pedro. This has paved the way for the establishment of a small Livelihood undertaking managed by Manang Normie. Some additional units were granted under DOLE’s Bottom-Up Budgeting Program in partnership with the local government unit. It was the first assistance received by the group from the national agency but not the last.

The workers’ association was among the livelihood beneficiaries under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program back in 2018. With additional equipment and materials worth Php500,000, the group was able to increase its production volume in an effort to expand the current market. It has provided for the expansion of the product portfolio, too.

SKL-Maryland Chapter was able to bid for the mass production of personal protective equipment for workers hired under the emergency employment program of DOLE known as Tulong Panghanapabuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

The supply of hats was granted to the association. It was a sturdy blue fisherman’s hat embroidered with the DOLE logo and the program’s acronym that has won over the interest of the office. Be that as it may, it was the reasonable price offer that eventually sealed the deal.

With a sustainable livelihood project, the workers’ association has already set its eyes on the Kabuhayan Program’s enhancement component. The group is planning to produce garments as an additional product line to its existing portfolio. It was a response to a window of opportunity spotted by the group’s leader.

DOLE Laguna Provincial Director Guido R. Recio has been supportive of livelihood projects whether for formation, enhancement, or restoration. He has been advocating for assistance under the DILP across the province to reach farmers, fishermen, vendors, and even inmates in the informal sector. Besides, the office renders technical assistance through Senior Labor and Employment Officer and provincial focal for welfare services, Ms. Lorena M. Gacosta.

This success story is expected to be replicated by other group beneficiaries this year. Among them is the Southern Tagalog Rubbers Producers Cooperative with an existing business of manufacturing rubber sheets. Hopefully, it will be able to follow in the footsteps of successful group beneficiaries of livelihood grants.

In 2021, there were 265 beneficiaries of kabuhayan grants involving several projects from retail of rice, grocery items, and frozen goods to baking of bread for sale. Beneficiaries include farmers, vendors, persons with disability, former rebels, and even inmates. The total amount granted is at least Php12 million.

Perhaps Manang Normie can share some good business practices on how she was able to successfully manage home and work responsibilities. After putting her daughter through college for a bachelor’s degree, she now has ample time to focus on business growth. It appears that she can already handle the demands of a possible expansion.


Rudyboy R. Sinay

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