SMEs in Lumban
The municipality of Lumban was a principal mission station of Franciscans in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was founded as a civil entity in 1590. The town is located about 104 kilometers away from Manila and is next to Pagsanjan, one of the most popular tourist spots in Laguna Province. Population is estimated at 24,309 in 2000 and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.02 percent. Lumban’s business activities consist of many small cottage industries where most of the workers are women work. On the other hand, the men are engaged in other industries or some of them may go to other places to get job.
The current situation
Lumban is well known for it embroidery industry , especially that of “barong”, the Philippine formal wear.The embroidery of barong is done by dexterous handwork. Clothes for the barong are made from plant fibers like banana and pineapple, and also from silk, ramie linen, and synthetic fiber. The cloth of plant fibe rs comes mainly from Cebu, and that of silk comes from Hong Kong. Before, the embroiderers use only the clothes of natural fibers for barong, but these clothes are not very strong and need a lot of care. In addition, there is a demand for more elegant looking barongs. Thus they have diversified the raw materials. Depending on what a customer wants, the embroidery designs can be both traditional and modern . Since cheap western style clothes have dominated the Filipino people ’s life, demand for barong has been reduced. Thus, barong producers in Lumban have now diversified to other embroidery products such as tissue box cover, cushion cover, and coaster. As for the market, only a few enterprises export their product to such countries as Europe. Most of the barong produced is sold in the local market, especially in Manila. This is because the barong is a traditional Filipino wear and only a few people use it outside of the Philippines. Moreover, it is very difficult to produce a large amount of good quality barong as production depends highly on handwork. However, the producers are trying to export more products. The association of barong makers are promoting and support ing the export activities of the individual firms. In terms of production process, the following are the necessary steps: first an under drawing on the clothes is made; then they do embroidery by hand; and finally tailor the barong with sewing machines. There are several relatively large firms which function as organizers of a series of the production procedures and engage in sales, design, product development and sometimes export. They are also responsible fo r the quality of the products and check the quality of work when they receive the embroidered clothes. We visited two organizing firms during the fieldwork and both firms do not embroider in house and use subcontractors to minimize the cost of production. The subcontractors are located in Lumban and as well as in other municipalities. A lot of women are engaged in embroidery work in Lumban. By taking a walk around the town, we were able to see many small factories where less than ten workers sit together and embroider under the eaves. Because of the characteristics of embroidery, female workers are dominant at factories. Most enterprises do not…