[STRICTLY BUSINESS] Paula’s Bukidnon Delights: Spreading better lives with pineapple jam
MALAYBALAY CITY (13 March 2021/BukidnonNews.Net) Being an empowered woman is more than just a label. Anna Paula Chiong, in her own ways, managed to become one by balancing her time between family and business.
She now runs a business producing more than 600 kilograms of pineapple jam every month.
Paula traces her success to her roots, her Talaandig indigenous ancestry. She grew up in a low income family. She built her determination to improve her family’s life with strong faith and hard work. In college, even if she was an IP scholar, she sold pineapple jams using her mother’s recipe to support her education.
She has already forgotten about that recipe when she joined the corporate world. She managed to revive it, however, when she married Dino, an outdoor junkie and mountaineer. Her husband’s active lifestyle and expertise in organizing events with large number of participants inspired Paula to bring back her pineapple jam as keepsake for guests to remind them of Bukidnon.
Her friends would later resell the jams. Eventually, from just a sideline, she was motivated to make it her full time business.
She joined the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) Program in 2018. It was where she realized the potential of her small business especially when one mentor challenged the entrepreneurs from Bukidnon on what they can offer.
“Daghan kaayo kog nalearn sa KMME kay dili man ko business graduate. Didto nako na-structure kung unsa akong buhaton ((I learned a lot from KMME since I’m not a business graduate. It’s where I learned to make a structure on what to do).” Paula said as she also recalled the additional assistance provided by DTI to improve the packaging and labelling of her product.
The growing Mama Nene’s Homemade Delights became one of the top sellers during the Valencia Trade Fair in August 2019. Aside from that, Paula was able to close a deal with a Manila-based company that used the jam as a new flavor for their yogurt and milk products.
Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Paula found ways to move forward.
When the Kaamulan 2020 was cancelled, she donated the unsold pineapple jam to IP folks.
With zero sales during the lockdown, Paula refocused her goals to getting certifications for her business. In November 2020, after investing in a P450, 000- processing facility, Mama Nene’s Homemade Delights/Paula’s Bukidnon Delights managed to obtain a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
She recognized that even for an empowered woman, it is not an easy feat to do business in the new normal.
“Kinahanglan maniguro gyud ta sa atong kaugalingon. Kinahanglan nato ibalance ang atong time para sa atong mga bata, ang time para sa atong bana, ang time para sa atong negosyo—gamay man or dako (We have to insure ourselves. We need to balance our time for our kids, our time for our husband, our time for our business—whether small or big).”
Paula continued with her business despite the pandemic without pushing over her employees.
“Dili mi open na magtangtang og tao. Nangita mig paagi kung unsay pwede namo ma-income nga dinhi lang sa lokal na baligya (We’re not open to laying off employees. We looked for ways on how we can earn even in the local level only).”
This led to the creation of more pineapple-flavored product variants: ensaymada, muffin, and even pandesal made from the older stock of pineapple jam.
“Being an empowered woman is not easy. But if you have faith and you pray, God will give you strength to help other people,” she added. [STRICTLY BUSINESS is the sub-section on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under the business section of BukidnonNews.Net. This piece was contributed by the Department of Trade and Industry -10 as a press release]
IN PHOTO: Ms. Anna Paula Chiong of Paula’s Bukidnon Delights empowers IP women in the community by hiring them as employees of her growing business. Photo COURTESY OF DTI-10 KMME Video Project