WITH stay-at-home orders in effect for most of the pandemic, Filipinos have learned or re-learned the art of cooking. And aside from just feeding themselves or their families, many have turned this skill into a business with food products easily marketed and sold via various online platforms.
Maricel Concepcion and Rolinda Monteclaro had this in mind when they and 48 others joined San Miguel Corporation’s community-based Cookery Classes, among a suite of training programs spearheaded by the company for former settlers from Barangay Taliptip, Bulakan town.
The programs are aimed at teaching new skills to relocatees and provide them with new sources of income.
The Cookery Classes attracted mostly mothers who wanted to help their families earn while they safely shelter in their homes. These homes were provided by SMC through its assistance program for relocatees who used to reside in Taliptip, future site of SMC’s New Manila International Airport.
“Gusto ko po talagang sumali sa cooking class para magkaroon ng higit na kaalaman sa pagluluto at ma-apply ko po sa pagtitinda namin. Nag-o-online (selling) po kami at gusto po rin namin magtayo ng kainan,”said the 39-year-old Concepcion.
Monteclaro, 38, said she will be able to cook more dishes and add to her menu as she also sells food for a living.
“Malaking tulong po ito sa akin dahil nagtitinda po ako at ito po ay nakakatulong sa akin para magkaroon ako ng ibang menu sa ginagawa ko pong pagtitinda,” she said.
Birth of a program
Through a partnership with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), SMC supported the training of close to 100 graduates in courses like heavy equipment operation, electrical installation and maintenance, shielded metal arc welding, dressmaking and cookery even during the early months of the pandemic.
However, some relocatees were not qualified for TESDA scholarship and could not leave their homes for training.
“Our goal was to give them adequate training, even for a short time near their homes, on skills that they can immediately use for business. Our San Miguel teams on the ground, in cooperation with Barangay Taliptip community training organizer Edna Ramos, then devised these short programs to allow relocatees, particularly the mothers, to learn from certified TESDA trainers whom we brought to the Taliptip community,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.
Over 100 relocatees have completed short courses in community-based entrepreneurship and reselling, beads and accessories-making, fish deboning, tinapa making, shrimp paste and dessert-making, and doormat-making, and most recently, cookery.
“With our experience in the food business and the ongoing trends during this pandemic, we know that food remains a viable business for homemakers. The use of online platforms will also help them expand their market beyond their immediate communities,” Ang said.
Cooking to earn
SMC funded the purchase of masks, cooking gear, cooking equipment, and ingredients as the classes were held at the venue provided by Taliptip barangay captain Michael Ramos.
For five days, the relocatees learned the proper measuring of ingredients, familiarization with equipment, proper preparation of ingredients, and the actual and proper cooking procedure. The last batch of trainees numbering to 16 completed their training last August 5.
“Puro fast learner na sila. Basta yung instruction malinaw ay kaya nilang sundan,”said trainer Yolly Villarama, who teaches food processing, cookery, housekeeping, food and beverage service, and flower arrangement in TESDA.
“Hirap sila sa una but since marami silang tinatanong at dahil nagiging open forum ay maganda yung nagiging outcome ng pagtatanong nila,”she added.
The short curriculum included courses on how to make mother sauces, salad and salad dressings, stocks sauces and soups, and vegetables and meat dishes, but Villarama also gave the relocatees some leeway on what to cook.
“Paminsan-minsan po may mga request sila na mga pagkain so yun po yung ginagawa naming para mas mabilis silang matuto at maibenta rin nila agad,”Villarama said.
Concepcion and Monteclaro both preferred Chicken Cordon Bleu and Gelatin Con Leche as their favorite dishes.
“Yung Gelatin Con Leche and yung Chicken Cordon Bleu, maganda po sya na i-online selling. Kakaiba po yung panlasa niya at alam kong tatangkilikin po siya,”Concepcion said.
Most important things
The relocatee-students are mindful that food hygiene, quality, and quantity of food, hard work and patience are among the important things in cookery.
“Ang lagi ko pong sinasabi sa mga estudyante ay sipag at tiyaga lang ang kaakibat ng training na ito. Dapat alam nila ang proper procedure, papaano ba mag prepare ng food, paano maprepreserve, ano ang tamang pagluluto. Kinakailangan talaga na pati yung personal hygiene bago magluto ay alam nila,”Villarama reiterated.
Concepcion said: “Ang natutunan ko po yung kalinisan sa sarili higit po yung sa mga kasangkapan aming ginagamit para po maging malinis ang aming niluluto.
Makakatulong po siya sa hanapbuhay dahil higit sa mababang presyo ay alam po namin na magiging masaya yung bibili sa amin at tatangkilikin po kami.”
Monteclaro added: “Ang natutunan ko sa kanya ay wag pachamba-chamba. Kahit marunong ka na talaga magluto, gagamit ka ng panukat o measuring cup para po maging okay yung panlasa ng mga pagkain.”
Edna Ramos, community based training organizer and San Miguel partner, said that more than the skills, the training gave the relocatees confidence on how to better support their families.
“Napakalaking tulong po ang proyektong ito dahil nagkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang mga relocatees na hindi lamang sa pangingisda maaring kumita. Ang kasanayang kanilang natutunan ay magiging bahagi na ng kanilang pamumuhay at maari nilang pagkakitaan ngayong panahon ng pandemya,”Ramos said.