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.
Silya, Elektrika atbp. started out as a homegrown business by a family of designers based in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.
The passion in sustainable design of the company’s 26-year-old manager and graphic designer Gariel Peros led to the establishment of Silya, Elektrika atbp. in October 2015, with the full support of her architect-parents.
Peros’ father, who owns a construction company, introduced the idea of recycling scrap and reclaimed wood and used steel bars sourced from demolished houses and transform them into functional pieces such as benches and stools, lighting fixtures, wall art pieces, sign boards, and other wooden bric-a-bracs.
Silya, Elektrika atbp. creates one-of-a-kind conversational pieces inspired by various designs and art perspectives, with the technical expertise of a dedicated team of graphic designers and illustrators.
“A lot of people warmed up to our unique designs, much to our surprise. We get lots of positive customer feedback. We can actually customize the product designs depending on our clients’ specific requests. We get orders here and there,” said Peros.
Local buyers find their prices really affordable — prices range from Php300 to Php3,000 per piece, depending on the size and intricacy of the product design.
The sustainable designs of Silya, Elektrika atbp. were recently featured at the 63rd Manila FAME via the One Town, One Product (OTOP), a priority program of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (DTI-BDTP). Foreign trade buyers and local visitors were highly impressed with both the aesthetic qualities and functionality of each piece. Most of the company’s products were sold out by the end of the trade show.
“Participating in Manila FAME is quite overwhelming for us because a lot of buyers really appreciate our products. Aside from the sales generated, we also get the rare chance to meet some business partners. It’s truly a satisfying experience!” exclaimed Peros.
An ‘open house’ is slated to be held in the family home in Quezon City sometime soon for their regular and new clients. “Everybody can come and check out our furniture. We encourage everyone to check out our website and social media accounts for updates regarding our scheduled open house,” said Peros.
“I really enjoy what I’m doing right now. Hope people continue loving the products that we create from the heart,” she added.
“This project is so heartwarming for us! When you go to the barangays, you’ll notice several areas of improvement. And we saw that the people are really exerting an effort to improve on their craft and generate livelihood for the rest of their community. These are some of our objectives, and I can say that they have been met.”
Noemi Avancena, product development consultant of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), could not help but be proud of the end result of a long and arduous journey towards the development of self-sufficiency among the small enterprises and group of artisans tapped by USAID for the Crafts of Palawan project.
Avancena, along with representatives from USAID, and the Provincial Government of Palawan, was at the recently concluded Manila FAME where the select group of Palawan-based small cooperatives and enterprises showcased for the first time their handcrafted products using locally available, sustainable materials.
The Crafts of Palawan booth put on display over 200 newly developed products, ranging from handicrafts and furniture items to houseware, fashion accessories, and souvenir items.
Eva Valledor, manager of Binuatan Creations which was part of the Crafts of Palawan at Manila FAME, shared that the program has been a tremendous help to her dedicated team of grass gatherers, who regularly source out raw materials like indigenous grass and fibers such as buntal fibers, mangrove grass, buri sprigs, vetiver, abaca, and other varieties of wild grass found mainly in the province. Binuatan Creations manufactures woven products like bags, pouches, placemats, table runners, purses, slippers, and window shades.
“Exporters are asking samples from us. For each buyer inquiry, an opportunity is given not only to us but to the grass gatherers as well. We’re not yet in the export industry, but I personally would like to learn the tricks of the trade,” said Valledor.
Binuatan Creations was one of the five MSMEs which participated in the Crafts of Palawan showcase at the 63rd Manila FAME along with AVT Bambuhay, Bacolod Rattan Furniture Shop, Malampaya Pancol Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and Nitz Pearl, Gems & Souvenir Shop.
The collaborative project of the Provincial Government of Palawan and the USAID through the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project has already assisted over 18 micro-entrepreneurs and 50 local artisans since 2014. As a culminating activity, they joined the 63rd show edition of Manila FAME after an intensive six-month product development with international lifestyle designer PJ Arañador and a series of design consultations with USAID-COMPETE consultants.
“A lot of work still needs to be done, but we are already thankful to the Provincial Government of Palawan for being so supportive,” added Avancena.
Foreign trade buyers particularly from the US, Netherlands, Germany, and Japan flocked to the Crafts of Palawan booth which encouraged the exhibitors to join the succeeding editions of Manila FAME as well as other local and international trade shows.
“It’s not just the sales, but the experience here as well. They (the companies) observe a lot of things in this area. They see new ideas from other producers and their competitors. We can say that we have achieved our goals,” said Avancena, adding that the USAID is in close touch with the Provincial Government of Palawan to discuss possibilities of continuing the noble project to help local MSMEs in promoting their products and expanding their business networks.
The COMPETE Project is a four-year project funded by USAID which aims to assist the Philippines in improving its competitiveness to attain higher levels of trade and investment. USAID-COMPETE targets to develop the main sectors named in the Philippine Development Plan such as the tourism, manufacturing, logistics, and agribusiness sectors.
To boost the tourism sector of the country, USAID-COMPETE and the Provincial Government of Palawan launched a souvenir products development program for the artisans of the province, which serves as the debut collaborative effort for an exhibit at the 63rd edition of Manila FAME.
HallONE, the year-round sourcing facility and creative space of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Mission (CITEM), proved coco coir as a unique, sustainable, versatile, and marketable manufacturing material by generating more than PhP 20 million potential export orders of coco coir products at the recently concluded 63rd edition of Manila FAME last April 21-24, 2016 held at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.
Uplifting the humble fiber from its traditional use in horticulture and soil management, HallONE showcased newly developed and innovative coco coir products for the home, fashion, lifestyle, and seasonal décor, drawing remarkable interest from its local and foreign buying companies and receiving a total of 213 inquiries during the Manila FAME event. The HallONE exhibit featured resort footwear, ladies’ shoes, Christmas ornaments and table tops, mats, carpets, mattresses, hanging and table lamps, vases, magazine organizers, storages, pet products, side by side with its traditional applications in the country.
In cooperation with the regional offices of the country’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), the newly developed coco coir products were designed and produced by the Philippine exporters and manufacturers from the home, fashion, lifestyle, and agri-industry sectors based in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, and Bicol. These include Pilipinas Ecofiber Corporation, Coco Technologies Corporation, R. Cabrera’s Gifts and Collections, Charles and Clara’s Footwear, Ai-she Footwear, Jhaz Footwear, Sarilikha Handicrafts, Yarnyaa Handicrafts, Likhang Liliw Footwear Cooperative, Rolyolikha Atbp. Handicrafts, KAP-WESL Multipurpose Corporation, Martha’s Handicrafts, and Sowerscrafts Enterprises.
Miniature animal ornaments with strings and sticks, and animal-inspired Christmas trees made from coco fiber and coco peat were among the fast-selling products during the show, along with the ladies’ sandals, men’s slippers, beehive and nipa hut-inspired hanging lamps, cat houses and toys, and doormats as secondary favorites by foreign and local retailers and wholesalers.
“The products are very interesting and cute. The use of coco coir as raw material is something new to us buyers,” said Margie Adrada, a Filipina based in Seattle, who owns five Dekorasyon retail stores in the US, and never fails to visit every Manila FAME for product sourcing.
Initial orders from the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Japan were also placed through HallONE, while some serious orders are under negotiations with possible factory visits from Russia and Norway.
“It’s very surprising that the coco coir products would get this much attention and interest from foreign buyers and even from the local community. This is our first time to participate in this event, and we’re extremely happy with the outcome,” said Ramonito Bernales of Martha’s Handicrafts.
Besides the exhibit, HallONE’s Material Showcase, in partnership with the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), the Philippine Coconut Authority (PhilCOA), and Timbermate-HMT Industries Corporation, also attracted buyers who checked and studied the featured raw materials available in the Philippines. The guests found the information from the books, magazines, and the online material database prepared during the exhibit very helpful especially with regard to each of its biological origins, production characteristics, supplier information, and relevant application and manipulation techniques.
“It’s an excellent showcase! Exhibiting the materials that can be found in the Philippines is a very good idea. I’m very happy that I was able to see and feel each of the local raw materials that are being utilized in this event,” Charles Ting, a CEO of a company who manufactures wall coverings from Taiwan, exclaimed.
HallONE is located at the International Trade Center (ITC) Complex, Roxas Boulevard corner Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Pasay City. It is a sourcing venue for features high-quality export products from the Home, Fashion and Food industry sectors. To visit its design-driven venue, contact its secretariat office at telephone number (+632) 831- 2201 local 253/600.
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.