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Soft rifle case destined to the US market
Soft rifle case destined to the US market

Building friendly ties with our suppliers
Last June we visited the Hagonoy Sports International factory in Bulacan. This company has recently partnered with the Hinirch Foundation to support their exporting efforts. Hagonoy Sports employs 70 highly-skilled workers – some of whom are provided free housing for their families – to produce quality sporting goods destined primarily to the US and Canadian markets.

The firm’s Operations Manager Lulu Diaz and her team welcomed us with typical Bulakeno hospitality. During our stay, we learned about the strategic direction they want to give to their business, as well as the social aspects of their enterprise. Lycah Baylon and I provided their marketing team with a course on effective handling of customer inquiries. More importantly, we further developed the friendly bond which already existed between our two organizations.

We toured the compound and Lulu Diaz described the operations assigned to specific areas. Some workers took care of assembling the cordura fabrics into sturdy backpacks, while others trimmed the recent cuts and sewed the textiles back together. The work environment was friendly, well-ventilated and spacious. Relaxed, too, with worker’s children wandering around freely and dogs lazily snoozing by the entrance!

After the tour, our interns Micheal Estuaria and Donnielyn Gamutan, sat down with employees that were close in age to them in order to learn more about their stories.

Hagonoy Sports’ youngest worker is also a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers
Hagonoy Sports’ youngest worker is also a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers

Michael – A glimpse into sustainable trade
I really like going to new places, meeting interesting people, and talking about their lives. When ate Lycah told us that we were going with her and Eric to visit a company supplier which produces sporting goods, Donnielyn and I felt excited because we could experience another task outside of the office. We were assigned to help in interviewing some of the younger employees of the company.

When we got there, I saw how the Hinrich Foundation builds a relationship with their suppliers. Ate Lycah and Eric facilitated the training of the marketing team and their presentation gave me a glimpse of what professional communication and sustainable trade really looks like.

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Michael interviewing Pogs

After that, Donnielyn and I interviewed the company’s youngest sewers. I sat down with “Pogs”, who is just nineteen years old, and asked him a couple questions. After graduating from high-school two years ago, he started working for the company because he couldn’t afford to go to college. His auntie asked him to work for the company as a trimmer of threads. Now, he works as a support in production which inspires him to study welding someday at TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority). He said that he will keep on working for the company while studying so he can still support himself. He told me that no matter what happens, all you have to do is be persistent in whatever you do.

This field visit helped me understand how the Hinrich Foundation continuously helps the supplier achieve their goals. It also helped me understand the processes that the foundation is trying to implement. I think being an Export Consultant would be a wonderful job.

Donnielyn – Let’s make a difference
Fieldwork is really fun and I learned a lot from other people while doing it. When we visited the Hagonoy Sports International in Bulacan, I saw how Ate Lycah and Kuya Eric trained their administrative team on effective inquiry management.  After that, I met Maris Dela Cruz, one of the youngest workers in the factory. She has an inspiring story and when we talked about her personal life, she told me about her father.

“My inspiration in life is my father because he was always there no matter what, he never gave up on us, he did everything he could to make us happy and keep us safe. Thanks to him, I was hired at the printing press. I then became a sales lady and I am now a bag sewer in the factory. I realized many things because of these experiences, and became aware of my surroundings. I know how to be more responsible, to myself and to other people”.

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Donnielyn trades life lessons with Maris

Finally, she said that being a worker in this factory is very significant to her because she can now help her parents and her youngest sister who is studying in college.

Maris is a strong woman and I learned a lot from our exchanges. I saw myself in her and we both cried inside the office, just for second. You might not be studying or be rich, but you can always help other people, even in simple ways. Every little act is important to people who truly appreciate you.

Fieldwork taught me valuable lessons and built up my confidence. I want you to know how blessed you are to have life every single day and to be able to share it with your family. We should always strive to make a difference. Let’s all find our treasure!

About the author – Eric Johnson, Michael Estuaria and Donnielyn Gamutan

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Eric Johnson is the 2016-2017 Princeton in Asia Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation. Based in Manila, Eric focuses on a variety of tasks, including logistical and online support for the Export Trade Assistance, Education, and Developing Country Sourcing programs. He holds a degree in International Studies from the University of San Francisco and has grassroots work experience with humanitarian NGOs and charitable organizations. Eric is excited about this upcoming year wherein he will learn more about economic justice and social entrepreneurship.

Michael Estuaria and Donnielyn Gamutan are scholars of the Hinrich Foundation and interns at the organization’s office in Manila. Michael and Donnielyn’s responsibilities consist of assisting the export consultant during supplier visits and executing editorial work. Michael and Donnielyn have both learned a lot about sustainable development during their internship and aspire to become trade leaders in the future.