Courier service J&T Express Philippines, known for efficiently delivering parcels even to far-flung and hard-to-reach locations in the country, showcased its Certified Lokalista Campaign in a webinar during its highly anticipated double-day sale on Nov. 11. The campaign, which started on Oct. 16, 2020 and will run up to January 14, 2021 encourages people to ‘buy local’, patronize, and support small-to-medium-sized entrepreneurs, and thus promote regional products to a larger national audience.
J&T’s Certified Lokalista campaign has been attracting entrepreneurs from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, many of whom are promoting and distributing their wares in other islands and regions outside their own for the very first time.
Officer-in-Charge Executive Director Nelly T. Dillera of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade Training Center (DTI-PTTC) pointed out one distinct factor that set this new e-commerce explosion apart from similar trends. She said: “Culture is the basis of how we can and should develop products, from food to wearables. What is important is preserving them while adapting to the new global economy. E-logistics has made it possible for local products and crafts to be brought to the homes of the people.”
With 75,000 online entrepreneurs now active on digital marketplaces, DTI itself, which is focused on exports, “did a backward integration on helping people to start their own business and onboard e-commerce,” Director Dillera continued. One support that the DTI-PTTC will be providing these new entrepreneurs is training in vital areas like the digitization of their processes; business finance and operations; business marketing; business human resources and organization; and working in the logistics and supply chain.
According to Zoe Chi, Vice President of J&T Express Philippines, the Certified Lokalista campaign celebrates the hard work, creativity, and nationalism of the online sellers. She said, “Filipino entrepreneurs, especially those who went above and beyond amid the mobility restrictions brought about by the pandemic, deserve to be supported and recognized for their creativity and tenacity.”
Panel moderator Amor Maclang, the Co-founder of GeiserMaclang Communications Inc., enthused that the increasingly popular digital double-day sales, launched on the same day of the same month by different online marketplaces, can be a long-overdue opportunity where shoppers can support regional entrepreneurs. She said, “It is because of these men and women that our local products are finally getting the recognition they deserve! Generations-old family recipes, regional specialties, and other proudly Filipino wares are becoming stars on these e-commerce platforms.”
The Certified Lokalista campaign kickstarted in 2020 by awarding Filipino entrepreneurs with a Certified Lokalista badge that will recognize them as J&T trusted sellers. These Certified Lokalistas, whose inspiring work has paved the way for the promotion of Filipino goods, will be awarded P20,000 worth of free shipping by J&T Express. These citations are also designed to influence more sellers to represent their own regional products online.
Ms. Chi described how the challenges brought about by the coronavirus crisis and its lockdowns became instead an opportunity for businesses to discover the advantages of e-commerce and e-logistics. She looked back, saying, “After the pandemic greatly reduced mobility, both old and new entrepreneurs without any previous e-commerce interest or experience joined the platform in droves. It was a matter of survival because people were staying away from brick-and-mortar stores and were doing a lot of their shopping online. But what these sellers may or may not realize is that by joining e-commerce, they aren’t just boosting online sales–they are becoming ambassadors of their own heritage.”
Four Certified Lokalistas who represented the three major islands of the Philippines spoke about and showed their own homegrown products and produce which gave their respective regions their unique edge.
Maria Todi, founder of the School of Living Tradition, based in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, emphasized the intricacy and beauty with which native artisans design and weaveT’boli shirts, bracelets, necklaces, and rugs, among other heirlooms. Because the handicrafts are a collective effort, Todi said that buying from the T’boli means “not just helping one weaver or organization, but helping a community.”
Meanwhile, Katherine Jordan, the Marketing Head of the Leyte-based online food store Mary’s Abuyog Special Toskolyet Moron, atp., named the following delicacies that have become popular outside the region: pili nuts, chocolate moron, binagol, sagmani, and suman latik.
Rica Dakudao-Buenaflor, who relocated from Davao to Bicol in 2002, founded Que Rica to manufacture, promote, and deliver the latter’s best cuisine to other parts of the archipelago. She maintained that Bicol should be known as the “land of Keto” because of its nutritious food: “We produce the healthiest recipes when it comes to heart-healthy fats. Coconut milk is high in fat and with no carbohydrates. The pili nut contains the highest healthy-fat content, and 95% of the overall production of pili nut comes from Bicol.”
Finally, Bulacan-based culinary whiz Rheeza Santiago-Hernandez said it is about time that the normally reticent Bulaqueños start promoting the dishes that they are known for. One example is the hamon bulaqueña which has a rich place in Philippine history. Santiago-Hernandez said, “It is historical. It was served during the liberation of Bulacan in 1898 during the time of General Gregorio del Pilar, who was then a lieutenant colonel. Other national heroes who have dined on it are Jose Rizal and Apolinario Mabini.”