Time flies so fast.
We’ve been in community quarantine for more than four months now in response to Covid-19. Lots of things have happened and our lives have changed in ways we never anticipated.
Economies worldwide are adversely affected. More and more countries, such as Singapore and Japan, are declaring recessions. In a press statement, the World Bank Group said that Covid-19 would plunge the global economy into the worst recession since World War II. Based on the forecast, the world economy will shrink by 5.2 percent this year.
Locally, for the first time in 22 years, the country’s economy shrank in the first quarter of the year, and this has led to the unemployment of 7.3 million Filipinos.
Support local goods and products
To help our economy recover, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has relaunched the program “Buy Local, Go Lokal.” It’s a nationwide campaign designed to encourage Filipino consumers to support local products and save local jobs.
“Only with this support from our fellow Filipinos will we reopen our economy,” DTI secretary Ramon Lopez says. “We continue to remind the consumers to patronize local products. In this way, our local companies, which create local employment, will survive. If we buy imported, what we are helping are those companies and jobs abroad.”
According to DTI, out of 1.42 million registered businesses, 99.6 percent are composed of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These enterprises generate 63.19 percent of the country’s total employment.
One of the industries badly hit by this pandemic is the local fashion industry. Due to limitations and restrictions in movement, several fashion designers have been forced to close their boutiques.
“Their main income is from made to measure apparel and with no clients coming to their shops, their sewers and the like also have no source of income,” Jackie Aquino, Fashion for Healing campaign creator, tells the Manila Bulletin. “The creative economy is suffering too. There are no shows. All fashion professionals, from show producers, models and their agencies to stylists and photographers, are affected.”
To elevate the fashion scene, industry leaders such as designers, manufacturers, retail brands, and fashion show producers, have come together to form the Philippine Fashion Coalition (PFC). This alliance aims to create long-term plans to address the needs of the fashion scene.
Aside from PFC and their programs, there are also several online shopping platforms where consumers can buy clothing from local brands such as Bench, Mosaic, and Anika. On Facebook, there’s a group named BuyPinoy. This community is dedicated to selling fashion and beauty items that are Philippine made.
“Local designers shifted their production into making protective gear from masks to outer wear that somehow, in a real small way, help jumpstart the fashion industry,” Jackie continues. “For us to survive this, we have to support all industries on the local level to ensure that the economy can move forward.”
To further strengthen the campaign in supporting local entrepreneurs, the DTI also has forged alliances with the Association of the Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI), SM Foundation, Go Negosyo, Security Bank, and Union Bank in rolling out the BUYanihan campaign.
This multi-sectoral program aims to raise awareness of the struggles of MSMEs. It is designed to further strengthen the call to support their products and services. Each organization in this campaign has its own ways of supporting MSMEs, such as facilitating bank loans and waiving rental fees.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture and RestoPH, SM Supermalls has launched the Farmers’ Produce caravan. This is a moving caravan that goes to different SM branches. It supports local farmers, members of RestoPH, and other MSMEs by giving them an avenue to sell and promote their products.
“Our farmers and MSMEs need all the help and support they can get to continue to provide for their families and the community,” says Steven Tan, SM Supermalls president. “Through this project, we are bringing farmers, business owners, restaurateurs, and consumers together to make a positive and lasting impact, not only on the lives and livelihoods of the farmers, but on the country’s economy.”
Since most members of the creative industry are independent or freelancers, they too are hurting. Artists can’t hold physical exhibits while galleries are closed, making it hard for them to sell their pieces.
In Baguio, the country’s first-ever UNESCO Creative City, people are coming together to help one another. In partnership with the University of the Philippines Baguio and Baguio Arts and Crafts Incorporated (BACCI), an artisan market named Medëko Kita bazaar was opened. Here, more than 20 artisans from the Cordillera regions were given the chance to sell their crafts both in physical and online spaces.
In Davao, artists joined forces to mount an exhibit for the benefit of their fellow artists badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Everything came as a surprise, and we are still trying to navigate this new landscape,” Mindanaoan artist and Lawig Diwa group member Kublai Millan tells the Manila Bulletin. “Early on into the quarantine, a group of artists in Davao initiated an online exhibit to help fellow artists. They gathered quite a number of participants. Aside from this, there are individual, small-time efforts to help each other.”