Photo from Loren Legarda FB page.

Local producers are urging Filipino consumers to patronize Filipino-made products for their noche buena and Christmas gifts.

“We have always been consistent in our advocacy of supporting local food producers. We urge everyone to buy from our food producers, including micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Whenever we buy from them, we not only boost the sale of their products but also ensure they have a stable source of income. Ngayong Pasko, aguinaldo niyo na sa mga kababayan natin ang pagbili ng mga produkto nila (Buying local products would be your gift to them),” said Asis Perez, former national director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), in a news release on Tuesday.

As the economy recovers from the pandemic, Perez said local food producers are stepping up their production for both domestic and export markets.

One of them is Mailyn Villasin, whose homemade gourmet tuyo and tinapa are now being sold in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. She started her business in 2018 in her hometown Lucena City with a starting capital of PHP15,000.

“Filipino products are something everyone can be proud of. They are more delicious and of higher quality. There are many delicious local food products here. We don’t need to buy Christmas gifts from outside the country, just buy the products of our local farmers and local producers. Our local products deserve our support and patronage. They make great gifts for our friends and loved ones. Not only do you help our local businesses, but those products are healthier and good for you,” said the Tasty Bites owner and CEO.

Bonifacio Orgas, president of the Samahan sa Industriya ng Cacao Pangkabuhayan (SICAP) Quezon Agriculture Cooperative, said local food products make for great pasalubong for those going or returning abroad.

“Quezon Province produces chocolates that are as tasty as those made overseas. Just the other day somebody ordered 35 pouches of chocolates to bring to Canada. Another ordered 2 cases of 750 ml cacao wine to sell in Taguig. A man from Atimonan bought 30 pouches. I sell my products here from my house,” Orgas said.

Gloria Villanueva, manager of Grand Central Manufacturing Inc. (GCMI), makers of Giana Deli Products, said the family-grown business has maintained its relationship with local suppliers through thick and thin.

“GCMI continues with the legacy of producing quality ham and sausages using locally sourced meats and spices. During the pandemic, we did online selling and focused on packing operations. Through this erratic season we maintained our cooperation with local suppliers establishing an economically viable and sustainable relationship,” Villanueva said.

For its part, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hosts local trade fairs showcasing local products and produce from farmers, fishermen, and local micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Honeylee Eclavea, Trade and Industry Development Specialist of DTI-Quezon, said the One Town One Product (OTOP) program has been upgraded to OTOP Next Generation to highlight not just one product.

“We want to try a fresh, new concept. The product should be unique, compliant with product standards, and certified under FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and License to Operate. Through OTOP Next Gen, we are improving the packaging and labeling of one food product. We are also promoting mandatory labeling requirements,” said the DTI OTOP Coordinator in Quezon.

“Buy local, shop at the local trade center. When you buy their products, you help the local farmers, local manufacturers, and the community. Support the products made by Filipinos,” Eclavea added. (PNA)