Cebu News

Balik Cebu program, OTOP fair open anew

Ellamae Larrobis and Grace I. Lacamiento/BRP - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The “Balik Cebu” program has once again been activated to assist balikbayans here for this year’s Sinulog festivities.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama led the ribbon-cutting at the “Balik Cebu” booth located at Level 1 of Paseo Marina at the Ayala Center Friday. The booth, which will provide balikbayans event guides and other Sinulog-related information, will be open during mall hours. Tickets can also be purchased at the booth, including those for the Miss Cebu pageant and the Grand Parade.

The program, now on its twelfth year, is being implemented in coordination with the provincial government and the Cebu Association of Tour Operators.

Joy Verchaegen, 52, of Belgium, was the first to register at the booth. She said she has been a devotee of the Santo Niño since she was a teenager.

“Ever since I was a high school student, I’m a devotee of Sr. Santo Niño, and now that I’m 32 years married, I came back here to witness again the Sinulog Festival,” she said.

Balik Cebu program official Syrah Quebletin said they expect more to arrive next week.

Meanwhile, the 9th “Sinulog Fiesta One Town, One Product” Fair of the Department of Trade and Industry, which was also launched Friday at SM City Cebu Atrium, aims to generate P6 million this year. 

Jointly undertaken with the Cebu City government and the Sinulog Foundation Inc., the exhibit will run from January 11 to 22.

The annual trade and marketing event showcase a variety of products from a variety of food and non-food sectors, native delicacies, processed food, novelty items, fashion accessories, handicrafts and export-quality furniture.

Around 56 micro, small and medium enterprises in Cebu and from other neighboring provinces occupy the 62 booths in the fair.

Sinulog Trade Fair Committee Chairman Elias Guia Tecson said last year the fair generated P5.6-million.

A new highlight for this year’s exhibit features health and wellness and tourism-related business in line with the booming performances of both industries.

He cited that DTI continues to strengthen its assisted MSMEs in terms of skills upgrading, product quality, food safety training, packaging and labeling, financing, marketing, technology development, speed matching, access to business-related knowledge and information interventions.

To promote further income opportunities, the government agency initiated the trade fair and exposition to market Cebu MSMEs in time for the Sinulog festivities.

DTI-7 Director Asteria Caberte described OTOP as a strategy to help small-scale entrepreneurs to primarily generate domestic sales and eventually produce a ripple effect in the society as they create more jobs and eases out poverty particularly in the countryside.

“It continues to inspire us to push forward for the progress of OTOP. The Cebu brand is really working effectively, making our sales very fast. So let’s continue with this brand and work together with the private sector and local government unit,” she said.

OTOP is a priority program of the government to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs with local chief executives of each city and municipality taking the lead in identifying, developing, and promoting a specific product or service that has a competitive advantage.

It supports the MSME sector to manufacture, offer, and market distinctive products or services through the use of indigenous raw materials and local skills and talents.

The Sinulog Trade Fair first started at the Plaza Independencia in 2003 and was transferred to SM City Cebu in 2006 for a more strategic venue and regular trade collaboration with the increasing number of participants and growing sales turn-out for MSMEs.

Other exhibit partners include Cebu Gifts, Toys and Housewares Foundation and Cebu Fashion Accessories Manufacturers and Exporters  Foundation. (FREEMAN)


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