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(A Feature Story of the Best Community-based Project in Batangas Province)
By: John Maico Hernandez

bigkis

Women are active partners in nation-building. Their participation in socio-economic development is indeed a leap forward in achieving an equitable, peaceful and more prosperous society. While the society aspires to unfold the maximum potential of its people, greater concern for women empowerment is at present sake.

Bisig at Galing ng Kababaihan para sa Isang Sambayanan (BIGKIS) Association is one of the women associations aspiring for inclusive growth and development. Having been established in 2002, the organization aimed to let women realize their full potentials and their role in helping facilitate
socio-economic development. Through this organization, every woman was given the chance to speak and realize how important their roles are in nation-building. Likewise, the organization also paved way for livelihood opportunities for 40 women members of Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas who normally stay at home with no means or source of income.

The municipality of Sto. Tomas while helping women realize their fullest potentials, spent strong efforts in making ties of women that shall embody womanhood and development initiatives through livelihood. Since a lot of women in their locale are engaged in business but having a hard time dealing with good packaging and label design of their products, the local government of Sto. Tomas asked for the technical assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the packaging and labeling of MSMEs products in their locale.

Meanwhile, rooting from its commitment to provide technical assistance to Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), DOST Batangas conducted a forum on packaging and labeling to help all MSMEs in Sto. Tomas with their packaging and labeling dilemmas. BIGKIS Association was one of the participants in the forum which showed strong interest in improving their Batangueño delicacies products.

During the forum, the local government of Sto. Tomas has been engrossed in searching of a product that will serve as a trademark of their locale while making women as its prime producers and help contribute to local environmental conservation. Having considered the plenty supply of buko in their locale, they embraced the technology from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in processing buko wine.

However, in consideration of women encouraged in making contribution to local development, the local government has chosen BIGKIS Association as the adaptor of buko wine. To help BIGKIS Association establish livelihood was the principal reason of the local government of Sto. Tomas in endorsing buko wine enterprise to the association since their small-profitable business in making Batangueño delicacies is not stable. Moreover, they believed that the association will be responsible of establishing commitment to capacity building of members, contribution to environmental conservation and stimulation of buko wine industry in Sto. Tomas.

BIGKIS Association, thru the leadership of Dr. Helen Grace Navarro, accepted the buko wine production enterprise endorsed by the local government. They were trained by experts of UPLB. Using the acquired knowledge, members of BIGKIS Association started producing buko wine utilizing UPLB’s wine production facility and equipment. Though far expanse demanded a lot of their time and effort, BIGKIS Association still pursued their commitment in producing quality buko wine.

The association’s management has really a strong desire to help every member improve their lives thru their buko wine enterprise. Dr. Navarro, as president, found ways and means to develop further their association by making linkages with government agencies, registering their group to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as a workers’ association and by joining trade fairs which usually serve as springboard in making their product widely-known in the market. Among other organizations, one can really deviate how their entrepreneurial acumen drives them towards earning public interest with their buko wine product. Deriving motivation to improve more their buko wine production, the association and the local government of Sto. Tomas asked the assistance of DOST Batangas.

With commitment to transfer and commercialization of technologies needed by resource-based, labor intensive industries for value added and productivity, DOST Batangas enthusiastically assisted BIGKIS association thru the Grants-in-Aid program of the agency. They assisted the association in the capacity building of its members and in registering to DOLE as a workers’ association. Since they needed to travel to UPLB and make use of their production equipment just to produce buko wine, DOST Batangas provided them with equipment such as: stainless working table, refractometer, thermometers, ITDI wine fermentation kit and ebulliometer to make their wine production easier and more convenient. Meanwhile, to improve their wine production process, training on buko wine processing and other tropical fruit wine such as bignay, apple, rambutan and duhat was conducted. Moreover, Awareness Seminar on Basic Food Hygiene and current Good Manufacturing Practices were also provided to the association. To help them penetrate more markets, they were also assisted with the packaging and label design of their wine products. Indeed, DOST Batangas paved way for the advancement of the association which triggered good market sales standing of their products.

DOST Batangas, thru its consultancy services, also linked the association as a recipient of thesis’s prototype of Batangas State University’s Mechanical Engineering students. DOST Batangas suggested the fabrication of filtering and bottling machine for the production of buko wine which can help escalate the production process of the association. Completely, the equipment designed and fabricated by the students helped a lot in upgrading buko wine production of the association.

Throughout the years, the organization has proven itself as an organization full of vigor and commitment to development. This can be seen on their engagement to Materials Recovery Facility which made them won 5th place in the Model Barangay Award 2002 recognized and given to them by former President, Gloria M. Arroyo. Their participation in different trade fairs and recognition of Buko wine as 2nd Best Product in Mahaguyog Festival 2015 is indeed a proof of how big the association has grown and succeeded.