Ms. Mary Jane M. Bawagan is a selfless mother and a supermom to her five children who have sacrificed a lot just to sustain the daily needs of their family.
In 2014, she started her ‘carinderia’ business nearby the Bayle Supermart, the first supermarket in Tabuk City, which was then located in front of the famous White Carabao Statue. She sold different kinds of home-cooked foods and snacks. Her ‘bibingka’ otherwise known as ‘sticky rice cake’ became her most saleable product and a true popular or hit product to the locals. Six years later, the property where she did her business entered into negotiations with the owners of the Jollibee Foods Corporation for a possible lease agreement. Unfortunately, the agreement pushed through, which required her to seek a new business location. Filled with sadness, Mary did her best to calm herself and push forth with her business, although in a different location. Keeping in mind the importance of foot traffic, bravely searched for a possible area along the highway wherein she can continue her business. She went to the Bantay National High School where she sought the permission of the school principal to be given the chance to occupy and rent one unit.
Luckily, Mary was able to obtain approval from the school where she started her canteen. She continued selling affordable homecooked meals and snacks to the students and started gaining good profit. Unsatisfied with what she was making at that time, she dived into the online marketing set-up to reach a wider market, especially for her popular products like the ‘bibingka’ and other ‘meriendas’ or snacks.
Seeing how Mary strived for her family, her daughters showed their support to by taking charge of the marketing aspect of their business. Through their marketing strategy, they were able to receive multiple orders from the online market and regular customers daily. Ms. Bawagan felt excitement and happiness every day because of their top-selling ‘bibingka’. She didn’t feel tired even if the production process was truly exhausting. “Hindi mahirap ang paggawa ng bibingka, nagsisimula akong magluto ng madaling araw, mano-mano akong gumagadgad ng niyog para sa gata na ihahalo sa malagkit”.
The wins also came with the losses or the downs. After baking a lot of orders in one day, her electric oven started to bug down, affecting the heating of the oven. In 2020, she also faced one of the most challenging and difficult parts of her life and business—the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand and sales slowed down, especially the bibingka. Schools and offices were closed, transportation was restricted, and regular customers were lost.
Physically and mentally exhausted because of the devastating happening over the past two years, Mary noticed a light at the end of the tunnel. Businesses were slowly getting back, and her regular customers started ordering again. Motivated by the newfound hope, she promised that she will do her best to learn and improve her business.
Mary learned of the programs of DTI from her co-entrepreneurs and customers. Curious as to what these programs can do to help her, she decided to visit DTI Kalinga and sought business advice. Upon arriving in the office, she was interviewed and profiled through the Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa- Livelihood Seeding Program (PPG-LSP) where she was chosen as one of the beneficiaries. The program became her way to acquire a new electric oven for her ‘bibingka’, which bugged down earlier on.
The NC Tabuk City Business Counselor also endorsed her to the One Town One Product Next Gen (OTOP NEXT GEN) and will be assisted with product development and expected to have her new product label and packaging for her bibingka and chili paste.
Her ‘sticky rice cake’ keeps on rising as more people send their orders. At present, she delivers her ‘bibingka’ to the different barangays of Tabuk City daily along with her other homecooked snacks. She now accepts orders and special requests of her clients and started gaining three-thousand pesos daily because of the doubled number of customers.
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them. Indeed, our life is really hard, but I dreamed to live a better life. I capitalized on my interest and passion and that’s- COOKING and BAKING. I don’t just grab the opportunity in business, I also put my best into preparing and cooking my products to maintain the loyalty of my customers. Obstacles may also hinder you along the way, but I instilled in my mind the motto “Never give up!”. I am deeply thankful for the assistance that DTI Kalinga gave me. “Sobra ang pasasalamat ko sa inyo.”
By: Kevin E. Racraquin / NC Tabuk City, Kalinga