Giga Natural Products Specialist Corporation (GIGA) started as a garage business established in 1999 by husband-and-wife tandem Marcos Jose “Peping” and Rowena Joyce “Joy” de Villa. With an initial capital of Php30,000, the pair developed a variety of products which soon became a hit to consumers from here and abroad.
Before GIGA, the couple was into selling ladies’ ready-to-wear clothing and accessories from 1986 to 1999. This grew to be a lucrative effort for some time until they decided to close the business and embark on a new industry line. Thus, the establishment of GIGA (which stands for “God is good always”): an enterprise that manufactures natural personal care products made from plant-based and locally sourced ingredients.
Since its inception, GIGA has developed a variety of natural products such as soaps, scalp conditioners, massage oils and rub cream, baby soaps, body sprays, and dog shampoo bars which generated a generous amount of revenue at the company’s participation in the recently concluded 63rd Manila FAME at the World Trade Center last April.
The company’s best-selling product, the Massage Rub Cream, was a hit among local and foreign trade buyers visiting the company booths at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Pavilion, which was supported by the DA-Agribusiness Marketing Service (AMAS).
Using virgin coconut oil as base, the company boasts of a wide array of plant-based natural ingredients used in its products such as peppermint, tea tree, lemongrass, ginger oil, virgin coconut oil, beeswax, and seaweed.
“Our products are composed of 99.5 percent natural ingredients which make them really effective. We do not advertise in TVs or in magazines. The effectivity of our products speaks for themselves,” said Jocelyn Bacay, sales coordinator of GIGA.
The company’s partnership with DA and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) gave GIGA an opportunity to touch base with its regular local and foreign clients as well as introduce its new products at Manila FAME.
“I am amazed by the comments made by our regular buyers; those who already used our products. I am also overjoyed to introduce them to the first-timers. As a sales staffer in GIGA, meeting these people makes me so proud!” exclaimed Bacay.
From being a single proprietorship company, GIGA has already expanded and built its presence in the local and international market. The company has established several retail outlets in select supermarkets and contracted a number of resellers nationwide, including the locally based online shops Lazada and Cudsly.
GIGA also has arrangements with foreign distributors in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia and is seeking distribution to countries particularly in the Middle East.
“The company stood strong not just because of its products. It’s also about the people behind GIGA, who are Bible-believing Christians who have a heart in managing their staff,” added Bacay.
Bacay shared that she is a survivor of the super typhoon Yolanda that hit the country back in 2013. A month after the disaster, she moved to Manila and found refuge at GIGA, where her career as a sales coordinator blossomed.
“I started at a low salary. But after three months, my superiors noticed my performance. They let me visit the different branches of the company and appointed me as an assistant in their office. Now, I am here and I am thankful that they are giving me their full trust. I am truly blessed to be part of GIGA!” said Bacay, who solely manned GIGA’s booth at the DA Pavilion in Manila FAME.
GIGA won an auspicious award at the 35th Agora Awards for the Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship in the small-scale business category held at Manila in 2014.
The Rainiers Research and Development Institute (RRDI) started as a backyard business of husband-and-wife team, Dr. Rainier Villanueva and nurse-wife Victoria, who formulated their own herbal shampoo made from lawat leaves: the Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo.
A neurosurgeon, pharmacist, and medical technologist all rolled into one, Dr. Villanueva was drawn to the idea of marrying the traditional herbal treatment with modern medical practice. He conducted intensive researches and experiments to process the raw ingredients and turn them into a more convenient form meant for daily usage.
The shampoo is composed mainly of the leaves acquired from the lawat plant which is indigenous in the Visayan region, particularly in the island of Masbate. RRDI sources the raw ingredients used in its products directly from the province which, in return, provides livelihood to the locals.
Dr. Villanueva developed the fascination with the all-natural, traditional body treatments in his home province of Masbate. “In the early days, people in Masbate used lawat leaves to treat their hair and scalp problems such as dandruff and hair fall. These leaves are crushed and turned into a gelatinous form and applied directly into the scalp,” explains Victoria “Vicky” Villanueva, executive vice-president of RRDI.
Through word-of-mouth advertising, the Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo became widely known not only locally but also internationally. From the shelves of local supermarkets, the shampoo eventually reached retail shops in foreign shores and even clinched a prestigious award in the 27th Salon International Des Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland way back in 1999.
Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo is notably the first non-medical product distributed by Zuellig Pharma, a Swiss pharmaceutical company based in the Philippines. This helped build the company’s strong branding presence in the market. It is now being exported abroad, to countries such as the US, Norway, Germany, Australia, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and Malaysia where there is a captive market.
From its humble beginnings as a simple husband-and-wife business endeavor in 1989, RRDI grew to be one of the pioneers and recognized Philippine companies in the field of herbal and natural products such as shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorants, and other herbal treatments. The company has then developed more personal care products made from all-natural ingredients like lawat, gugo, akapulco, virgin coconut oil, carrot, calamansi, and tawas.
These all-natural RRDI products were a hit among local and foreign trade buyers and visitors who trooped to the World Trade Center for the 63rd Manila FAME, a trade show which showcases finely crafted products covering the home, holiday and gifts, and fashion sectors crafted in the Philippines for the global market.
RRDI’s participation in the recently concluded Manila FAME has allowed the company to expand its market reach even more. RRDI is one of the select companies that was part of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Pavilion, which showcased a wide range of food gifts, body care and wellness products, manufactured by local communities supported by the DA-Agribusiness Marketing Service (AMAS).
“Manila FAME is a good trade show for people to visit and experience. We have been participating in Manila FAME way back, even during the time of Mina Gabor (founder of CITEM). It is really an ideal place to showcase one’s products. By being here, you can see that the Philippines has such beautiful products!”says Villanueva.
The company’s partnership with DA and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), organizer of Manila FAME, gave Manila FAME trade buyers and visitors a welcome opportunity to get to know up close RRDI’s product lineup of carefully formulated herbal products.
From a simple backyard business, RRDI has become a full-fledged manufacturing company that positions itself as a one-stop service provider in the areas of R&D, raw material sourcing, product development, toll manufacturing/private labeling, product testing, and packaging development.
“If you want posterity and a continuation of your legacy, you have to have your own brand,” concludes Villanueva, who shares that RRDI also has a CSR program that involves sending several underprivileged youth to school and granting them part-time employment.