An online business involving ube (water yam) and mango sticky rice saved a Filipino couple from the UAE affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Hajjie Soriano-Valencia and Aldrain Valencia—who went home to the Philippinses back in March—were surprised at how their online business named Dream Foodie Philippines, wherein they sell sticky cakes, ube, and mango sticky rice, became an instant hit among Filipinos, even being featured on TV shows, magazines, and news outlets.
The couple, who used to work in the F&B and hospitality industry, went to the Philippines initially to spend a vacation. However, lockdown measures prevented them from coming back, and their industry became hit hard with the economic effects of the crisis.
The two then thought of selling mango sticky rice in April when they remembered their trip to Thailand, where the said dessert is considered as a staple delicacy.
“Nagustuhan namin ng sobra, halos every day noong nandoon kami, bumibili kami [ng mango sticky rice]. Naisip namin ito na gawing business dahil gusto namin siya personally, and then since may ube kami na tanim sa Laguna at paborito ito ng mga magulang namin, naisip namin lagyan ng twist ‘yung mango sticky rice ng Thailand para maging perfect for Filipino taste,” she said.
Their business boomed after they began posting it on Facebook groups, drawing in attention from netizens all over the province. They were then featured on Yummy.ph, Rappler, and were even interviewed on GMA’s Unang Hirit.
Hajjie said that while it was sad to leave Dubai, they are happy to have started this business because they also get to help other employees affected by the pandemic by hiring them.
“Takot kami noong una, tinanong din namin sarili namin kung pano kami magsisimula. Pero masaya kami dahil nakapagsimula kami ng maliit na negosyo. Hindi lang kami ang kumikita, nakakatulong pa kami sa mga empleyado namin na kumikita din,” she said.
The Filipina said they plan to expand their business further, reaching as far as other provinces and cities in Metro Manila and the National Capital Region.
She also encouraged other OFWs who want to go home and start their own business to not be afraid of taking the risk.
“Huwag po tayo matakot magsimula or sumubok ng pagkakakitaan, ‘wag po tayo sumuko sa mga hamon at pagsubok sa buhay,” she said. “Kahit din po kami d’i kami galing sa mayamang pamilya, na-inspire kami sa mga magulang namin na lahat pinasok na negosyo tulad ng pagtinda ng uling, mga prutas, lambanog and even kabaong para maitaguyod lang kami. Mga magulang namin ang nag-inspire sa amin,” she said.
“Ang negosyo ay tiyagaan, hindi pabilisan basta dapat mahal mo at gusto mo ang gingawa mo. Basta marangal at walang inaagrabyadong tao kahit konti ang tubo basta kumikita okay ‘yun,” she added.