• Eco-chic finds a niche in Payatas 13 livelihood


    In the Philippines, the name carries the stigma of poverty, filth, and tragedy. The place is best remembered for its infamous dumpsite, which claimed hundreds of lives when it leveled nearby slums in an avalanche of trash back in 2000.

    Over a decade later, a nearby village paints a different picture. Villagers no longer sift through trash; instead, they dabble in textiles. Men print patterns on canvas, which the women then fashion into eco-bags.

    Welcome to Payatas 13, a village transformed by the power of social entrepreneurship.

    For the people, by the people
    Payatas 13 experienced a turnaround when Mike Go, a Gawad Kalinga social entrepreneur, launched Trese back in 2008. The concept was simple; employ local residents, print shirts, and use the profit to fund community projects.

    After securing a deal to become the official shirt printer of Gawad Kalinga, their product offering diversified with the addition of canvas eco-bags. In fact, the demand for bags has now grown bigger than that of the very popular print shirts.

    But while Trese attributes its initial success to Gawad Kalinga’s orders, Go admits that it’s not enough to sustain all of Payatas 13’s community projects. The real profit, he says, comes from corporate patrons who share his vision.

    As word spread about Trese’s philosophy of grassroots empowerment, organizations with an inclination for philanthropy contacted Go to order company collaterals.

    Spreading the good cause
    Top call center and business process outsourcing services provider Telus International Philippines (TIP) has integrated Trese products into its employee engagement initiatives. The company regularly distributes recognition gifts to its team members. Sourcing from Trese was seen as a way to add social value to activities that reflect the company’s caring culture.

    Telus International Philippines President Jeffrey Uthoff talks about this fruitful partnership. “TIP is aware of the tragic history of Payatas and that’s what compelled us to invest in this partnership because we believe in the power of transformation. Seeing Payatas 13 today gives us a renewed sense of hope knowing that we can truly change the world for the better, one step at a time,” he shares.

    “Seventy percent of our income comes from corporate organizations who partner with us and we are thankful to TELUS for supporting us. We encourage everyone to visit us and see how the partnership is positively affecting the lives of the members of the community,” adds Go. “Clients like TELUS order our products when they know that they are helping a greater cause.”

    Besides offering sustainable livelihood, Trese also funds the construction and maintenance of Payatas 13’s community facilities. To date, the company continues to fund Payatas 13’s health clinic, day care center, and village hall.

    Changing lives
    The partnership with Telus spurred further demand for Trese’s products. To catch up with the orders, Trese recruited more local residents to work for the company. From just a handful of employees, Trese now provides above-minimum income for more than 30 residents and their families. On average, they collectively produce around 700 eco-bags in a single day.

    “Ngayon, di ko na kailangang lumayo para kumita. Tipid sa pamasahe, kaya mas malaki ang naiuuwi ko sa pamilyako [Now, I don’t have to venture far. There are no transportation costs, so I earn more for my family],” says Analiza Espinosa, a mother who now works as a sewer for Trese

    Meanwhile, Mark Paneda, who has no formal schooling, has now found a way to be a productive member of his community as a printer for Trese. “Dahil sa Trese at sa mga patron na tulad ng Telus, hindi na ako patambay-tambay na lang [Because of Trese and patrons like TELUS, I’m no longer a drifter],” Paneda explains.

    According to Go, Trese’s operations have changed the lives of a lot of Payatas 13’s residents. “They find comfort in knowing that their hard work doesn’t just support their families, but their communities as well,” he ends.


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