increase amidst the crisis
July 15, 2020
MAKATI CITY – 2020,
is it the best year yet? Well, not for the younger generation. The
recent restrictions on travel and other leisure activities affected
the tourism industry everywhere. Far from happiness, most of Region
8’s micro entrepreneurs who fall under the sector of tourism support
were greatly affected. These are businesses who support the local
tourism by offering a handful of sweet native delicacies.
Leah Hiangnan, a young
traveler and entrepreneur/owner of Todoc’s Special Native
Delicacies, is already experiencing success from her thriving
business selling chocolate moron (chocolate sticky rice pudding). It
is a well-known native delicacy usually introduced and loved by
visiting tourists, and pasalubong from every kababayan in Eastern
Visayas. Her brand- Todoc’s, is known to originate from Abuyog,
Leyte, the true home of this delicacy.
Prior to the threat of the
COVID-19 pandemic, her product was top-selling, she also has
shipments to Manila, Cebu and Bohol.
For Leah, success is on
her side, until recently she experienced unfortunate events in her
life. Her father died this year, then comes the pandemic. Sadly, her
orders for the Holy Week and Summer were cancelled due to low demand
in tourism-support products and logistical concerns.
Everything seems to stop
in her life. “Nahulop ko Maám, asa ko pamilngon an akon ibayad
monthly sa akon loans para sa business operation,” says Leah who
emotionally shared her struggle on how she can pay her loans used to
expand her business when their operations stopped. She also shared
how her family is financially affected by the hiatus, especially
that she gave birth to her first born. Good thing the financial
institutions imposed moratorium for loan payments.
She was also concerned of
the employees who depend their livelihood on hers. Twenty (20) of
her employees instantaneously lost their jobs, and she could not
support them either.
For some time, she paused
and started to think of ways how she can advance forward. She was
determined to move on and learn to navigate the unknown paths of the
“new normal”. With internet and a social media account, she started
posting photos of her product online. It was a positive step, a few
Exactly May 1, 2020, she
called out 7-10 employees and started the production of chocolate
moron. They started to work twice a week. Though far from her daily
production and 20 employees working for her, it was a good start.
Soon enough, she will gain back her monthly income of
Leah noticed that most
orders are coming outside of the region. She searched further and
found out that there is a high demand for native delicacies in
Now how would she deliver
her products? Again, through online searching, Leah found a way.
“Pasabay” services are the trend for micro entrepreneurs. Small
logistics player in the region offer door to door delivery of
products from small businesses to their linked businesses in Manila.
“Naghahanap ako Maám ng
paraan para maka-kuha ng orders, mag-produce kami at maka-deliver,”
says Leah who was determined to seize every opportunity of getting
bulk orders outside the region and delivering them.
Talking about disaster
resilience, she is coping with the crisis by establishing a broader
network and strengthening business ties with her partners while
finding ways “paraan/diskarte” to make sure her business goes
Usually she sends her
products in Cebu, Bohol and Manila, now, a door opened for Dumaguete
with an initial order of 60 packs of chocolate moron.
Despite the spiking prices
of raw materials for the production and the limited supply of sugar
and milk, Leah will be producing 12,000 pcs of chocolate moron this
week and expects more to come in succeeding weeks.
Leah will also process the
delicacy in the water retort facility at the Food Innovation Center
by DTI and DOST to extend the shelf life of her product. She
considered the possible delays in logistics, and so, she wanted to
ensure the consistency of her product’s quality.
“I will always find ways
to make sure that our business will always run by building new
business linkages and stepping in for every opportunity I find,”
says Leah Hiangnan with full determination to keep her business at
the middle of a crisis.