Life is a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down.  Even misfortunes can unexpectedly turn into a blessing in disguise.

Sought for other opportunities

While teaching is a noble profession and the financial pay is decent, it is still not exactly as high as the typical Filipino teachers can hope. Most especially, when you are a teacher with a large family to feed, clothe, educate, and shelter. Thus, it is only natural that teachers sought other opportunities to earn beyond the context of teaching while still performing their teaching responsibilities. 

Mr. Abraham Moreno or “Sir Abby”, is a typical teacher struggling to make his finances improve, was enticed to invest in double your money schemes in the hope that these might be the answer to his financial burdens. He risked by obtaining high loan amounts in different banks because he believed the money will return in multiple folds.

In the first few months, everything went smoothly. The promised return of investments was received and his financial status progressed. But as the famous tagline say, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true”. Alas, not a year since all the supposed “investments” sprouted like mushrooms in the rain, all of them crumbled in vain. All were a sham created to scam.

Shattered dreams

Many dreams turned into bitter nightmares. One of them was that of Mr.Moreno. With the meager pay that he monthly received, the teacher and breadwinner were to provide all basic necessities for a wife, one daughter, two children under their care (children of relatives that live with them), and in-laws. Indeed, it was a struggle for him. But because he still had other resources as a Taekwondo coach in the Philippine Taekwondo Association, he receives monthly pay large enough to augment their monthly basic needs.

Hence, despite the major financial setbacks caused by the investment scams, he and his family were able to fare. Then 2020 came with something that none of us has ever prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The world came to an uncertain halt. Travel, entertainment, food trips, leisure, religious activities, even education, and sports were all put on hold. For people who have a lot even when they sleep all day and hardly lift a finger, it may sound like a distant troublesome news. However, for people like Sir Abby who had needed to work extra, this was awful news.

Taekwondo coaching was a big part of his monthly income. With the prohibition of any contact sports due to the pandemic, his other means of income were put to a stop. This may sound depressing, however for a positive person like Sir Abby, he still looked at the positive side of the pandemic. He and his family did what most people do during the entire lockdown, that was, to become “chefs”.

The best is yet to come

Sir Abby’s wife Sally, a homemaker and a good cook thought of making a snack for their family during the lockdown. She remembered how cassava was often used as the main ingredient in making a “puto binagol”. A native delicacy usually prepared as a staple supplement when rice was scarce in the far-flung area of Governor Generoso, the place where she grew up.

She added a twist by inventing her own brand of putting through adding another famous Pinoy delicacy “bukayo”. Together with the whole family, they created an improvised steamer using a simple kitchen kettle and cooked it traditionally inside the “bagol” (coconut shell).

Proud of the delightful afternoon where the family bonded together in their kitchen eating some delicious Filipino snack. The family was more than happy to share their delicious snack in Sir Abby’s Facebook account.

Posting yummy foods in social media will mostly garner icons of likes, hearts, and wows from friends, colleagues, and other common associates. Sir Abby was more than happy to received their appreciation. Little did he expect that the best is yet to come.

One friend wanted to taste it and the good friend that Sir Abby was, generously gave some to his friend. However, his friend did more than say “thank you”. He posted the photo of the said delicacy as well as details on how others could taste it, too.

One word led to another. The power of social media has proven to be a striking business marketing strategy. Soon, Sir Abby and his family received flocks of messages asking for orders. The one-time kitchen experiment became an instant family business.

Taking a leap

With the meager resources that they have, they strived to cater the volumes of order for a lot of people who flocked outside of their house just to get a taste of the locally trending delicacy. Soon enough, the whole family decided to take a leap to make the business legal complete with all the necessary permits the Philippine government would require. Thus, the consumers were assured of food safety and sales continued to raise up.

More than a year after the unexpected business and its’ success, the family still derived a steady profit from it. Though a lot of individuals were trying to copy their family’s recipe, loyal customers knew the taste difference.  Indeed, nothing beats the original.

Ask if he has any message to other struggling teachers and individuals, Moreno a devout Christian said “Ayaw mo kawalan sa paglaum. Luyo sa mga kalisod, naa gyud gi-andam nga kaayohan ang Ginoo para sa atoa.” (Do not lose hope. Despite all trials, God is preparing something great for all of us.)


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