Travelers going to the town of Miag-ao to visit the Miag-ao Church or to drive up to the mountains of Antique would not miss Brendan’s Pasalubong for it is located by the road in Trapiche, Oton. Its Lengua de Gato is a bestseller and a sought after pasalubong food item.
Brendan’s Pasalubong was developed into an enterprise by Felomina Sarabia of Oton, a first class municipality in the Province of Iloilo. It is a namesake of her nephew – Brendan – who assisted her in Lengua de Gato making when they were in Manila. The two of them produced the foodie and they sold it among customers in the megacity.
“We used to have Lengua de Gato customers among offices in Manila and and even up to Baguio,” recalled Sarabia, “but I went into a hiatus because of health issues.”
Sarabia decided to come back to Oton to take care of her ailing father then. “Family is important for me and I felt responsible over my father who have toiled hard to bring us up to what we are today,” she articulated.
Sarabia, however, have found a free time in between caregiving and household work and she started to once again whip up ingredients for Lengua de Gato.
“Funny thing about Brendan’s,” quipped Sarabia, “we thought that it will only be a momentary venture, a pass time that will provide us with some extra income at home.”
It begun however to gain attention when the family started to offer the product among selected friends in town. Orders slowly trickled in especially during occasions and town events – they made Lengua de Gato a giveaway – transforming Brendan’s into a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME).
Sarabia found herself attending seminars and trainings organized by the Local Economic Development and Investment Promotions Office (LEDIP) of the Iloilo Provincial Government. These trainings allowed Brendan’s to acquire capacity building support from Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) and packaging from the Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST).
These support services for MSMEs enhanced the ability of Sarabia to improve internal management systems and packaging for product safety and marketing. It also boosted Sarabia’s confidence on the viability of its product.
Brendan’s increased popularity was also attributed to various product roadshows and trade fairs that it participated. These marketing events expanded its market reach and they have observed that carrying the name Oton in the brand tag also created curiosity about the place among customers.
This is another dimension of MSMEs – they foster enterprise tourism by making the place synonymous with the brand, like “Brendan’s of Oton, Iloilo,” thereby establishing a ‘pride of the place.’
All of these elements contributed in the growth of Brendan’s Pasalubong and its development was demonstrated, not only by the increasing number of walk in customers, but also by bulk orders from locals, travelers, and Overseas Filipino Workers.
Sarabia started to expand the product line by introducing other food varieties like Ensaymada, Banana-Carrot Muffin, Butterscotch, Apple Pie and Puto Cheese. These food products are now sold at the selected pasalubong centers in Iloilo and in other towns and cities.
“Almost all our food products are fast moving. One of the reasons that we are sought out by customers is perhaps the homemade character of Brendan’s,” added Sarabia.
The Ilonggos, in particular, equates homemade products to good quality and it spreads through a word-of-mouth, an informal communication yet a powerful person-to-person marketing approach relied upon by the Ilonggos.
The growth of Brendan’s also manifested in the demand for additional workforce to augment production requirement.
Sarabia mobilizes family relatives and community members to provide additional support. On the process, Brendan’s helped generate jobs at the grassroots level and it improves community relations.
“The family and the community is a vital support system, not only during moments of health or emotional distress, but also for livelihood activities. Family support is important for emerging MSMEs and our experience with Brendan’s is one good example,” noted Sarabia.
This is an area where MSMEs are effective at – they provide livelihood opportunities among folks and they create an economically productive communities.
*This is an edited feature profile on MSMEs series done as a project of the Local Economic Development and Investments Promotions Office (LEDIP) of the Iloilo Provincial Government in January 2017.