MORE than a year into community quarantine, borders have temporarily closed, businesses have ceased operation, and a number of Filipinos lost their jobs. Almost immediately, the pandemic became more than just a health concern but mostly an economic crisis. This is especially true for the Philippines whose economic leaders and businessmen were taken by surprise and have not really prepared for what was to come.
Just this March 12, 2021, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)-Davao Region reported 23,981 workers displayed in the entire region as of March 9, 2021. According to Dole-Davao Assistant Director Jason Balais, the number may change in the coming days as some of them have already been rehired. The unemployment rate in Davao Region is currently at 10.4 percent, the highest it had been in years.
The termination report of Dole-Davao showed that “1,221 workers from 103 establishments that reduced or retrenched employees, while 381 workers from 21 establishments were affected after these permanently ceased operation, and seven establishments temporarily closed affecting 168 workers.” Top reasons for termination included the businesses’ financial losses, retrenchment to prevent loss, and a combination of market and financial losses.
Just like anyone else, Kevin Joven did not anticipate the financial woes that would come to him in 2020. Pre-pandemic Joven was operating a water refilling station and a co-working leisure hub while also being a licensed portfolio manager in an insurance company. It’s safe to say that Joven was doing well financially. But all these were affected by the community quarantines last year.
“At first, I was really devastated and depressed as a start-up entrepreneur. I even thought about giving up life. But then again, life is beautiful and has many surprises in store,” Joven shared with SunStar Davao.
Ready to give up, he met someone who knows how to formulate liquid soaps, anti-bacterial fabric conditioner, disinfectants, and dishwashing liquid.
“It was not me who knew how to make liquid soaps but let me call it God’s will as I have met people who are knowledgeable and are experts in making quality products. The learning experience is easy if you follow the steps [carefully],” he said.
Joven added that through these people, he learned how accurate measurement, temperature and proper scent application are important.
SoapBerry was established in July 2020 when he immediately began contacting online sellers to distribute his products to achieve a wider reach. He also got help from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Davao City’s Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) online program, which provided him a clearer plan for his business.
Now, their business continues to thrive and not only helped them but also provided employment for other people who lost their jobs by encouraging them to sell SoapBerry products online.
“Our resellers, distributors, and resellers are mostly mothers and we appreciate that SoapBerry has helped them in their daily needs. In SoapBerry, we don’t talk about it as a sole business but a livelihood for everyone. As the saying goes, 'bahala’g ginagmay, basta kanunay.' We are now on our 9th month and we are proud to share that we have been supplying LGU (local government unit) offices, hospitals, hotels, stores, and homes,” said Joven.
For Ruby Bernales, her current baking business started with the insistence of her daughter to try the baking videos she would watch on Youtube. They started May 1, 2020 when the city was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and movement restrictions were tighter. Everything started as a hobby for the both of them. They started with choco moist cake, crinkles and banana cakes, which Bernales would sometimes bring to her workmates for a taste test.
“Never in my dreams na mamaligya ko samot na kay pandemic way mga kwarta. Pero sila ang naghatag sa akoa og urge na i-business kay ila gyud ko orderan. I took that as a challenge,” shared Bernales.
Not long enough after, what started as a hobby became a small business for Bernales. Even if she is among the few Dabawenyos who still has a job amid the pandemic, she feels grateful to have a backup.
“Sa culinary naa ka dapat willingness to learn and patience. You have to invest in materials and quality ingredients. You must have the passion to be creative and open-minded to the criticisms and people’s suggestions,” she added.
Now she is happy that she is earning from what was previously a hobby that she diligently taught herself to learn.
What they teach in school
Even if technical-vocational skills can be learned through watching Youtube videos, these are no longer new to many of us. Especially those who went to public high school, technical-vocational studies have long been ingrained in the curriculum even generations before this pandemic.
Davao City National High School Technical Vocation Livelihood (TVL) Track head Avril V. Marino shared that they currently have three strands under the track: (1) Home Economics; (2) ICT; (3) Industrial
“For Home Economics, we offer Housekeeping, Front Office Services, Bartending, Bread and Pastry Production, Food and Beverage Services, Cookery, Caregiving, Wellness Massage, Beauty/Nail Care and Hairdressing. For ICT, we are offering Animation, Programming, and Computer System Servicing. For Industrial Arts, we offer Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Electronic Product Assembly and Services, Refrigeration and Airconditioning Services, Automotive, and Electrical Installation and maintenance,” said Marino, who handles the Shielded Metal Arc Welding NC II and Wellness Massage NC II specializations.
She said as they offer these programs, they keep in mind that due to financial constraints, not all students may have the capacity to proceed to college. Therefore, one must already acquire specific skills that may be of help for the graduate to land a job or open a business.
“TechVoc Education is important because it will give them specialized training, increase personal development, and higher job opportunities with high earnings, and lessen unemployment. Overall, TechVoc will help your professional skills, improve your current skills, helps you to produce products and have you own business, and train or retrain you to become competent globally,” added Marino, who also shared how he was a former overseas Filipino worker and was hired not only because of her degree but also of her Level 1 and 2 skills certificates.
TechVoc subjects in Davao City High normally come in eight subjects and are taught 10 hours a week. The students also spend most of their time in the workshop learning practical skills.
“The training itself is one big reason why it is important, to add up, we should know that the standards taught here are not only the standards locally, competency standards in the training regulation of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to the curriculum guide of the Department of Education are global standards,” she said.
Partnering with local government units, Tesda conducts training now and then to OFWs, farmers, small businessmen, and other beneficiaries. Tesda-Davao Region, for example, Multiplier Training Program on Upland Rice Farming in Sitio Pigdalihan, Barangay Pandaitan, Paquibato District, Davao City. Here, the beneficiaries from five priority barangays were taught profiling, scheduling of farm activities, monitoring and coaching methods.
They have also provided jam-making and tocino-making training programs to former women rebels last March 3, 2021, in Balay Panaghiusa, a halfway home for former rebels. About 16 former rebels benefited from this training. In 2020, Tesda also launched techvoc learning studies for free.
Some of the programs offered by Tesda that are not only beneficial for Filipinos’ local employment and business opening but also as employment abroad are Korean Language and Culture, Bartending NC II, Driving NC II, Masonry NC II, Horticulture NC II, Mechatronics Servicing NC II, and Contact Center Services NCII, among many others.