MANILA, Philippines – Hard work mixed with a bit of luck became the perfect recipe for success for a former fish vendor from Lipa, Batangas.
Carmen Tolentino found her fish business declining in the late 1980s following the sinking of MV Doña Paz, which is considered as one of the country’s deadliest maritime disasters.
Seeing the success of the hotdog stall next to hers in a public market, Tolentino tried her luck at selling processed meat.
“’Yung katabi ko, nagbebenta ng hotdog, eh malakas kasi syempre wala ngang kumakain ng isda. Sabi ko kung pwede ako umangkat ng padalawa-dalawang bag, pwede daw. Nagsimula na ako magtinda ng hotdog nu’n,” she said on “My Puhunan.”
Carmen Tolentino, owner of Carmen's Foods. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
With only P500 as capital, Tolentino bought about 5 kilos of hotdog and pork to be used for tocino.
Tolentino put in the work by creating her own tocino recipe, but it was luck that pushed her to success.
“Nakapulot ako ng kapirasong papel na may recipe, nakita kong kailangan pala dagdagan ng pinepapple juice. Dinagdagan ko ngayon ang aking tocino, ayun nagsimula na,” she said.
Starting with orders of only 5 kilos of meat a day, the new recipe had Tolentino ordering 100 kilos daily just to keep up with her customers.
In 2006, Tolentino moved her meat processing business to a factory, which now employs 100 personnel and processes 5,000 kilos a day.
Her company, Carmen’s Foods, has also branched out to other processed food items such as sausages, skinless chicken, luncheon ham, and burger patties.
Despite her success, Tolentino has not forgotten her roots and her struggles as a market vendor in the 80s.
“Hindi dapat na ikahiya ang pinaggalingan, lalo na ang pagtitinda sa palengke. Huwag tayo makakalimot sa pinagdaanang buhay,” Tolentino said.
“Huwag mawawalan ng pag-asa dahil lahat ng tao may pag-asa hangga’t gagawa ng paraan. Dahil kung tamad ka at asa lamang ng asa sa Diyos, wala ding mangyayari. Kailangan kasabay ang sipag,” she added.