Rising after the fall: The story of TAWA
By Annie Mae "Mai" Parco
Posted 16 October 2006
[See also Jasper Llanderal's blog entry about TAWA here.]
If we were to list down the
life incidents we like best to talk about, recounting our failures
will definitely be nowhere near the top of our list. It is because
we always take in failures as “dreadful” moments, reminding us
of our weaknesses, negative emotions and setbacks. And more to that
the conclusion that we are not capable of doing things we plan or
But as it is also said that
every failure has two possible effects -- either you inhibit
yourself from doing some things for fear of another failure, or
forces you to do better next time, trying other approaches to
achieve better next time. For the latter, it’s the opportunity to
do things again, in a more intelligent manner, to sit back and
examine where one has failed, and make the proper changes for a
I’m privileged to have
witnessed this second effect happen to a young but active union of
women, the Tubod Active Women Association (TAWA).
At first, it was not easy for
these women to do two different roles -- as mothers in their
respective homes at the same time as production workers in their
association. And the fact that TAWA being a newly organized
association embarking on a startup meat processing project, there’s
really not much to expect from this group of women.
The first quarter was a
challenging experience for the women of TAWA. There’s the
difficulty in establishing their market niche in view of the stiff
competition in the industry. There’s the constant demand for
quality improvement. Mastering financial recording is yet another
roadblock but a necessary evil. Not to mention the adjustments they
had to make among themselves to blend together the diverse
personalities composing the team. These were only the few as many
more obstacles were waiting for them.
Then there came the big storm
-- a net loss in the first three months; a trembling management
structure; unclear set of policies on internal control, leading to
the mismanagement of funds; miscommunication among members; and a
bunch of grievances from the different sides of the house.
It was a total disorder and a
source of all the ridicule and criticisms from neighbors reminding
them that what happened was just a “history-repeat-itself” tale.
The same as what happened to the livelihood projects of other people’s
organization in the area. There could have been enough reasons for
the members to quit and go back to the usual daily household chores
they’ve been doing for the longest time.
But for the women of TAWA, it
was more than just the hardships they underwent. For them, they have
a cause to pursue: to improve their and their families’ lot, and
to help provide employment to the other folks in their village.
Thus, despite the ridicule
and the criticisms, they focused on making their project succeed.
They assessed where and how they failed. They reviewing their
project objectives, examined the organizational structure and
evaluated performance of the management staff, redefined their
duties and responsibilities, held an open forum for the general
assembly. They also found other ways to market their goods, refined
the technical processes involved. On the financial aspect, they
installed a new internal control system, and set clear policies
approved by the general assembly.
The hard work paid off.
At present, TAWA is working
on the double to cope with the increased market demand -- from a
2-kilogram production volume of meat products to more than 10
kilograms. They were glad about the market’s response. They said
they can easily dispose the 10-kilogram volume in a matter of eight
days. They have also started utilizing their production center, not
just for the production of goods, but also for their weekly meetings
It was actually through their
failure that they have learned a lot. Now, they have become more
enthusiastic to continue the project and more confident to prove
that their critics were wrong.
Certainly, failure is not bad
at all, as the women of TAWA have proved. It just reminds us of our
innate imperfection as human beings. To be human is to experience
failure. As they say, “The only real mistake is the one from which
we learn nothing.”
Failure is part of life,
especially so in a successful life. Because in reality, most
successful people failed more often and it is from there that they
learned a lot and became stronger. Confucius was quoted as saying,
“Our greatest glory is not in winning, but in rising every time we
fall.” The same is true with this women’s group. Failure fired
them up to stand again, dusted themselves off and gave it another
try. But this time, with more passion.
Whenever they remember and
talk about those times of failure, they can’t help but laugh at
those moments. Just as their organization’s name suggest -- TAWA!