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Manolo Fortich livelihood summit spurs tourism, helps MSMEs

MANOLO FORTICH, Bukidnon (PIA)Recognizing the economic and cultural benefits that entrepreneurs bring to their communities, the town of Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon recently hosted the 1st Livelihood Summit to help build a vibrant economy by promoting tourism and encouraging the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) amid the COVID-19 crisis.

With the theme “Kapobrehon Atong Tulobagon, Solusyon Atong Hiusahon (Let us fight poverty by working together to find solutions),” the local government unit (LGU) has gathered over 2,000 attendees from its 22 barangays, including women's groups, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning), youth, self-employed, farmers, animal herders, wood carvers, souvenir item designers, craftsmen, jobseekers, micro-enterprises, and home-grown entrepreneurs, among others, to learn how to achieve economic prosperity through social enterprise development to increase household income.

Similarly, prospective investors, cooperative credit unions, financial and lending institutions, bankers, traders, researchers, and subject matter experts came to deliver valuable tips—through coaching and mentoring sessions—that serve as a platform for entrepreneurs to learn more from the departments of Trade and Industry, Tourism, Science and Technology, Labor and Employment, and Land Bank of the Philippines.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Agri Credit Policy Council, Social Security System (SSS), Hedcor-Pilmico, and Del Monte Foundation also came to share their best practices and expertise to help the town’s micro-enterprises grow and create jobs.

The summit appeared like a town festival, complete with a trade expo of authentic woodwork, handmade mats and baskets, beadwork, indigenous musical instruments, handicrafts, organic fruits and vegetables, Bonsai (trees in pots), local cuisine, delicacies, and other goods in merch booths. All of these products are made in Manolo Fortich, a town in Bukidnon famous for producing the country's finest and sweetest pineapple.

Mayor Rogelio Quiño said that in order to build a heady economy, local leaders might also start by listening to entrepreneurs.

"Entrepreneurs grow in the neighborhoods where they live. The money stays in their community. They also hire locals. As a result, this event leads to an upward spiral of success for the municipality of Manolo Fortich,” Quiño explained.

Manolo Fortich local government gathers over 2,000 participants from its 22 barangays, including women’s groups, LGBTQ, youth, farmers, animal herders, wood carvers, souvenir item designers, craftsmen, self-employed, jobseekers, micro-enterprises, home-grown entrepreneurs, among others, to learn how to achieve economic prosperity through social enterprise development to increase household income. (BGEpan/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

Hard work

The mayor inspired the people gathered in the dome when he narrated the hardships he endured to cherish life's simple joys.

“When I was young, I was paid to root up weeds in the fields. I also sell newspapers, ice, and other items downtown every Sunday. As I grew older, I gradually saved enough money to build my own corn mill,” Quiño said.

As mayor of Manolo Fortich's 22 barangays with nearly 115,000 people, he emphasized that the path to success begins within a heart that wishes to be the best at something—a heart, mind, and soul that does not desire to be ordinary, but extraordinary.

The summit includes culinary coaching and mentoring on noodle-making, baking cakes and pastries, and native cuisine cooking. (BGEpan/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

Journey to Success

Swayed by their mayor's inspiring story of what hard work can achieve, one of the town's entrepreneurs, Benjohn Mahistrado, who owns the famous Alomah's Place and Nature Farm, shared his success nuggets.

“The winning formula for success is determination, passion, and hard work. They really complement each other if you want to advance in an enterprise. These words of hope came from my roots. My parents once told us that we are ordinary people who have a dream. But we need to work hard to achieve and realize those aspirations,” he said.

Growers of Bonsai (trees in pots) and organic vegetables sell their products at reduced prices. (BGE/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

Inclusive growth—‘Walang iwanan’

In a speech, Gov. Rogelio Neil P. Roque said the gathering will establish linkages, pool business opportunities, and support government policies and programs to create a sustainable business environment for MSMEs.

“We should harness public-private partnership to help our local MSMEs grow. As LGU leaders, we look for practical ways to attract and retain more of these economic champs in the countryside in order to attain the overall goal of shared prosperity or the ‘Walang iwanan’ virtue,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, Vice-governor Clive Quiño thanked the local government for launching programs that improve people’s quality of life.

"This is truly a convergence that our small businessmen can link. This is the first, and hopefully not the last. This event showed that collaborative problem-solving leads to better outcomes. If you’re looking for ways to improve your business, increase productivity, boost revenue, and have more overall success, one thing makes a difference: people working together,” the vice governor said. (RLRB/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

The two-day livelihood summit appears to be a town festival, with merch booths selling authentic woodwork, handmade baskets and mats, beadwork, handicrafts, homemade delicacies, and other goods. All of these products are made in Manolo Fortich, a town in Bukidnon famous for producing the country's finest and sweetest pineapple. (BGE/PIA 10-Bukidnon)

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