Speech: Sikat Pinoy National Arts and Crafts Fair 2018

June 14, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda

Sikat Pinoy National Arts and Crafts Fair 2018

June 14, 2018 | Mega Trade Halls, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City

In 2008, I shepherded the enactment of Republic Act 9501 or the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Act as we recognized that MSMEs play a vital role in employment generation and economic growth.

As the principal sponsor and author of the MSME Law, I believe that our progress and development as a nation should be pursued with the end goal that everyone in the society should all benefit from such economic gains. Progress should not be measured alone by the infrastructure built by the government, such as the highways, airports, ports, flyovers, among others.  Nor should it be measured as well by the numerous towering buildings, shopping centers and malls built in the metropolis.

Because in the midst of this rapid pace of urbanization that is taking place all around us, the challenge lies in ensuring that those in the grassroots of the society also and actually benefit from the government’s efforts to provide basic services as well as improve the welfare and well-being of our people.  It has since been my aim to promote MSMEs so that our people will not have to rely only on available job opportunities and instead aim to become entrepreneurs — be their own boss and be the architect of their own destiny.

I therefore welcome you all to this 4-day National Arts and Crafts Fair which serves as a platform for our local entrepreneurs to showcase their products and promote their business undertakings.  I encourage you to go around and learn for yourselves the success stories behind each of the 188 local enterprises and businesses featured in this fair.

I am also particularly pleased to know that we have several booths that likewise feature products and crafts from different indigenous people (IP) communities.  Their living traditions are representations of our past and national heritage. These are building blocks that complete our distinct Filipino identity. I likewise acknowledge the fact we have local entrepreneurs coming from all regions, except Region 13.  This convergence taking place right here, right now is proof that despite our differences, amidst cultural diversity, our being Filipino is what binds us together.

I would also like to take this time to extend my appreciation to the Department of Trade and Industry for being a staunch partner in implementing the MSME Law through trade fairs like this.  DTI holds the key to knowing the needs of MSMEs, promoting and supporting entrepreneurship, and ensuring their continuing viability and growth, as mandated by law.

As reported by the DTI, MSMEs in 2016 accounted for 99.57% of the total business enterprises operating in the Philippines. In the same year, MSMEs generated a total of 4,879,179 jobs, which indicated that MSMEs contributed almost 63.3% of the total jobs generated by all types of business establishments that year.[1]

With these statistics, the vital role of MSMEs in economic growth and poverty alleviation cannot be overemphasized. MSMEs have a huge potential in actually becoming the main driver of our economic development and, given sufficient attention and support, this sector will no doubt accelerate socio-economic empowerment of various sectors in the society, including women, youth, and the indigenous communities.

We have just celebrated the 120th year of our independence.  As I joined the rest of the country in commemorating this turning point in our lives as a country and as a people, I have emphasized that the greatest challenge that we continue to face is that we are still bound by the shackles of poverty and inequality, despite the freedoms we enjoy.

As a legislator, I acknowledge the valuable contribution of the MSMEs in boosting the country’s development and in helping bail our people out of the poverty trap.  Allocating government support for the promotion of MSMEs will encourage people to engage in self-generated sources of livelihood, provide jobs to others so that people will no longer have any reason to beg in the streets.

Hence, I call for massive information dissemination so that those in the grassroots would know that the government does have the resources and mechanisms which, in turn, will redound to their benefit and well-being.

I also urge the DTI and other government agencies to take advantage of the NACF and treat this as an opportunity to look deeper into the needs of our local entrepreneurs and indigenous communities so we can subsequently provide the exact kind of assistance that they need.

Let us continue to expand the scope of our assistance, especially those in areas with high poverty incidence, for us to identify those who are not capable of joining trade fairs and those who have skills and indigenous resources but are unable to register or acquire the usual permits, so that we can open up more opportunities for them.

Moreover, let us also be considerably lenient in terms of the requirements and processes in giving people access to these programs. Perhaps we can consider looking into the possibility of relaxing the complex application process and burdensome collateral requirements, considering that most of the beneficiaries of MSME programs come from the rural areas. They also have to devote their time, effort, and money just to avail of the assistance intended for them. Let us not further hinder them from having access to the assistance and opportunities due them.

Meanwhile, as we empower the country’s poorest through MSME programs, let us not forget that our aim is also to enhance the value of our local and indigenous products and crafts.  We must also enhance the competitiveness of rural enterprises as we face the realities of modernization.  Let us elevate their standards to being world-class, ngunit may tatak Pilipino.

As we continue to move forward to attain socio-economic development, the repercussions brought about by modernization are inevitable. If we are not mindful, foreign influence in our daily lives, for example, will not only threaten the survival of the marginalized indigenous communities.  It will actually threaten the very foundation of our existence and identity as a people.

In closing, I wish to reiterate my support for the MSMEs sector, for the protection the rights of our IPs, and the promotion of our culture, heritage, artistry and craftsmanship.  Our measure of growth should not end in economic gains alone, but also in making sure that these will become inclusive and sustainable.

To the local entrepreneurs, and to our brothers and sisters from the different IP communities, never lose the fire inside you in fighting for your rights and pursuing your dreams. Continue to pass these on to the next generations and generously share to the world our rich culture and heritage as Filipinos.

To the rest, who are here to support this year’s Sikat Pinoy National Arts and Crafts Fair, immerse yourselves in the overwhelming creativity and talents of the Filipino people. Be engrossed with the intricate designs and mastery of their arts and crafts that exemplify our rich and exuberant culture and living traditions. Enjoy your visit and go home not only with your hearts full of pride in being Filipino, but also with your shopping bags full of products na gawang Pilipino.

Thank you very much and good day to all of you!

[1] https://www.dti.gov.ph/businesses/msmes/msme-resources/msme-statistics