Baguio City – With only an old sewing machine, some pieces of raw materials, and a huge generous heart, Grace C. Loy-od of Baguio City is the DOLE Cordillera’s official entry for this year’s DOLE Best Assisted-Livelihood Project for the individual category. Her story of overcoming the many challenges of adversity through diligence is sewn together by her resilience and unwavering goodness to her community.
Mrs. Loy-od started with a small Sari-sari store catering mostly to jeepney and taxi drivers as well as some residents in their barangay at Asin road, Baguio City. Motivation pushed her to acquire a national Certification (NC II) from Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for Tailoring on August 2016. She was also invited by her friend to attend a free training on sewing at a vocational school.
Having decided not to settle in merely selling simple grocery items and to maximize the learnings she has previously acquired, she decided to buy a sewing machine from the small earnings she has accumulated in her small retail business.
Late 2017, Mrs. Loy-od slowly included her sewing products, such as bucket hats and aprons in her sari-sari store.
However, as her three children grew so did their educational expenses, making her consider options to increase her productivity and boost her business for their household.
With her family as inspiration, she decided to approach the DOLE-CAR Baguio Benguet Field Office with the hopes of bettering her business. Soon after, her project proposal was approved and chosen to receive Php 20,000.00 livelihood assistance from DOLE in 2018. It was granted to her in the form of equipment and materials; a high-speed sewing machine and a kilo of thread and fabrics for her sewing operations.
From a manual sewing machine, she began to use the high speed sewing machine provided by DOLE. This helped her make more finished products which resulted in extra income to fund her children’s educational fees and also their household bills.
Since the machine allows her to finish more products, she decided to rent a stall at a local mall on October 2018. She started to deliver the hats and aprons not only throughout Benguet but also in Mountain Province. She used to travel to Manila in order personally purchase raw materials such as threads, fabrics, and even used clothing. She earned the trust of many returning customers who eventually turned into resellers of her products.
Things were sailing smoothly, until the unexpected pandemic struck the country like a storm. Travel restrictions prevented her clients from purchasing goods, resulting in decreased sales. This coupled with the ongoing wet season further lowered the demand for the farmers’ hats that she makes.
To keep her finances afloat, she started sewing doormats which are highly needed during the rainy months of May onwards. She also noticed that facemasks became highly sought during the long lockdown, thus she decided to make washable cloth masks as well.
Benevolence and empathy moved her heart to donate some of the washable facemasks she manufactured to frontliners such as street sweepers and uniformed personnel. Her impact in the society rippled even further when she freely offered some of the manufactured hats to the TUPAD workers during the implementation of their work in the community. She has also previously donated some of her facemasks and clothing items to the affected residents during the Taal Volcano eruption and during the flooding in Manila.
To date, she continues to expand her business by manufacturing throw pillows, curtains and other kinds colorful hats. Her income has more than doubled from P 6,000 to P 14,000 while unhesitatingly providing free basic sewing instructions to her friends in Benguet. She was able to buy another sewing machine and she opened and sustained another outlet at Buguias, Benguet.
Generosity and determination can overcome the storms we face, and Mrs. Loy-od’s story is a testament of sailing instead of sinking. Her unwavering goodness is a testament that while we develop our skills and expand our businesses, we can still make a positive effect in the community.
The Best DOLE-Assisted Livelihood Project is an institutionalized incentive and award system organized by the DOLE-Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns starting 2015 in order to recognize the beneficiaries’ effort in successfully managing and sustaining the gains of chosen livelihood projects.
END//Daryll B. Ponard with reports from DOLE Baguio-Benguet Field Office