Sweet Dream Begins
“I both gave birth to my second child Alvin and the candy making business twenty seven years ago.”
Successfully rearing both the Patigayon children and managing her home-based business was quite a “sweet delight” for an entrepreneur awardee, Mrs. Fe I. Patigayon of Jade Food Products of Brgy. Sumilihon, Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte, Caraga Region, Philippines.
“Manang Fe” Patigayon (as she is fondly called), manager and a mother of five; Joselito, 29; Alvin, 27; Julie Ann, 19; Joe Fe, 17 and Jade, 10 years old humbly shared how her “binangkal making” career in Manila during the early 80’s gave birth to her multi-million worth of candy manufacturing business today-two decades of experience that brought delight not only to her but the children who loves the delicacies of Jade Food Products.
“Linya na nako ang pagluto ug sweets, binkga, bud-bod ug uban pa. Ako’y nakasunod sa iyang skill” (It has been our family’s’ passion to cook rice cakes and delicacies. I was the one who followed the footsteps of my mom who was very skilled in cooking native delicacies).
Manang Fe, in her early 50s recollected how she got associated with the “sweets” industry. “Binangkal” maker (local muffin-like delicacy coated with sesame seeds which is a popular delicacy in the Visayas and Mindanao regions) ko niadto sa Manila. Nagsugod ko ug helper sa pagluto, peddling ug mag ‘back ride” pa sa motor sa akong amo niadto. Nainteresado ko nga nindot man diay na nga negosyo” (I was a ‘binangkal’ (a dip-fried round bread coated with sesame seeds) maker in Manila. I started as a helper and peddled the bread back-riding on a motorbike with my employer everyday. Then I became interested with the business and thought that the business was good).
Love Is Sweeter
A year after Fe’s career as a ‘binangkal’ maker and delivery assistant, she went back to the province and met Joe Patigayon, a candy factory worker in Talamban, Cebu City. After series of ‘sweet’ courtship and finally ended in marriage, the couple decided to migrate and settled in Brgy. Tagabaca, Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte in the Northern Mindanao, where their five children grew up. Since Brgy. Tagabaca relied more on agriculture, Manang Fe ventured into farming to support the family’s needs. However, since the needs began to grow and her desire to be an entrepreneur grew intensely as well, she then thought of going back to creating sweets and delicacies as an alternative livelihood to augment the family’s income.
Thousand Peso Capital
“Kami lang duha sa husband ko sa pagsugod sa negosyo. One thousand pesos lang amo puhunan niadtong 1982 ug wala pa’y buwan ako anak na si Alvin” (My husband and I started with just a thousand peso capital last 1982 when my son Alvin was barely a month-old). It was in Langihan (Salvador Calo Public Market), Butuan City where she first sold her goods in wholesale price to different retail stores. After years of supplying and doing business in Langihan and with a sizable number of “sukis” (valued customers) Jade Food Products became a by-word in the local market.
As the business grew, Manang Fe decided to generously hand-over her Langihan “sukis” to one of her valued clients who eventually became a distributor of Jade Food Products herself. When asked why she needed to turn over her valued customers to other entrepreneurs, she just smiled and said, “Gipabor nako sa iya ka’y naluoy man ko. Hinuon na-a pa man ko’y nabilin. Ang resulta, nahimo nu-on nako sila nga mga distributors.” (I gave my valued customer the opportunity to have the distributorship business. In return, it gave me even more distributors).
“Pangitaan nako ug paagi nga makaya ra nila (customers) ug palit ako baligya. Pang-masa ug tag piso-piso ra.” From the “piso-piso” (a peso worth of candy) of Jade Food Products, Manang Fe was able to send her children to school until her eldest son Joselito graduated from college and is now helping the business as the company’s Assistant General Manger and in charge of the operations. Joselito not only manages the company’s operations but also runs the motor pool and equipment maintenance of their service-delivery vehicles. Jade Foods “presyong masa” (mass-based price) really paved the way to support the family’s needs for education and support to the Patigayon children. Truly, Manang Fe not only raised a home-based business but the enterprise produced fruits of prolific children as well.
Maternal-Approach Business Model
“Gibalayan gyud nako…” (I provided housing assistance to them) (as Manang Fe was referring to one of her loyal employees). “Makatabang ko, mabuhi ko, mabuhi pud sila” (I can help, I live and they will live as well). Dili nako gustong sulohon ang tanan” (I don’t want to grab everything), she humbly answered.
As a mother, Manang Fe can’t help but think beyond how she can care for her employees especially those who have been working with them for some time and helped her walked the road to a successful enterprise.
With a handful number of full-time and part-time workers (re-packers), Manang Fe does not only pay their salaries but also provided non-wage benefits such as providing them with free board and lodging assistance as perks. In addition, some of the regular employees were given housing assistance which they are only required to pay the cost in terms of a “data-data” (installment basis).
Just like a mother cares for her children, Manang Fe takes care of her valued employees. Her motherhood management style resulted to loyalty from her employees and eventually improved their quality of life.
Love Your Neighbor
True to what the Bible says, “Love you neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:32), Manang Fe exemplified a life of a loving and generous neighbor by providing them with free transportation services at times when they needed assistance especially during emergency situations.
At present Manang Fe has expanded her business from farming, manufacturing & managing their public utility jeepney. Whenever there is a need for emergency transportation assistance, Manang Fe is always there to lend a helping hand to her neighbors in times of needs – free of charge.
“Nabuhi mi ani (home-based business) ug nakatabang pud ni ug dako sa uban labi sa mga nanay nako nga silingan”. (We lived through a home-based business and it helped us a lot even our neighbors).
At present, Manang Fe is not only involved with community service to her neighbors by providing free rides but she also gives them opportunities for livelihood especially to the unemployed mothers. Jade Food Products employees comprise both wage-earning employees and or “pakyaw” (piece-rate) workers.
From a capital of One Thousand Pesos (Php 1,000) in 1982, the company’s gross sales are now estimated to reach a quarter of a million every month! From its phenomenal growth, truly the Biblical principle of loving our neighbors produced fruits of blessings to the Patigayon family.
Entrepreneur of the Year
“Advance mi sa pabayad ug amo mga contributions (like Philhealth. Para ra man pud sa akong kapamilya ug mga empleyado ko and pagbayad ug ensaktong balayranan. Maka-harvest man gud mi ug benefits, doble-doble pa.”(We always pay are workers’ social security premiums in advance, in fact we do exceed providing other benefits to them).
When asked how’s her involvement with government agencies such as DTI and the LGU and her views as an entrepreneur towards the agencies’ support to Jade Food Products, Manang Fe proudly replied that they’re actively participating and advance in paying their obligations and contributions both to the local and other government line agencies.
As a home-based enterprise situated in the midst of a rural barangay, seldom do we find an entrepreneur as pro-active in outlook like Manang Fe about her attitude towards supporting the government especially through payments of obligations and contributions at the same time understanding how it can help employees and the enterprise in return.
No wonder, Manang Fe’s effort was eventually recognized as the “Gawad Entrepreneur” awardee from the “Tulong Sa Tao Project” spearheaded by our country’s former President, Fidel V. Ramos last 1997 in partnership with DTI Agusan del Norte.
From then on, the recognition she received inspired her more to be of support to the government’s programs especially on entrepreneurial development projects organized by the local Department of Trade and Industry and other related government agencies.
Jade Food Products indeed not only delighted its customers but became an inspiration to other home-based entrepreneurs in the community.
Sweet Dreams Never Stop
At the age of 54, Manang Fe, an award-winning entrepreneur, fulfilled mother of five productive children, supportive wife and a woman who endured the obstacles of life still dreams of developing and expanding the business of Jake Food Products at the same tine continue her farming activities despite of the blissfulness she’s now experiencing.
She’s not only concerned with just the profit side of the business but now gearing toward sharing her blessings more to the family and community.
She envisioned being an inspiration to the budding home-based women entrepreneurs in Butuan City. Her livelihood advocacy is for the home-based women entrepreneurs and unemployed mothers to help their family’s’ income by being more productive and not rely on dole-outs or debts. Manang Fe lovingly shared, “Mag-tuon pud sila (especially the housewives) ug negosyo, dili kay mag-sige ug utang, mubarog sila sa unsa’y makatabang sa ilang kaugalingon ug pamilya.” (Housewives need to learn to be entrepreneurs and not keep on borrowing money or be indebted).
As a successful woman entrepreneur, Manang Fe still dreams of more quality time with her family. “Gusto sa akong mga anak nga awto na ang akong dribun.” (I’d like to drive a car still). Manang Fe shared how her children wanted her to drive a car instead of the usual delivery truck that she used to drive. Then smiled as she shared and ended the interview session with a slight humor, “Bisan sa una pa, manager na, driver pa gyud ko” (Even before, I’ve been a manager and driver). She ended our interview with sweet laughter.