MANILA, Philippines – A former vendor of sugar-glazed bread twists, locally known as “pilipit,” is now a multimillionaire in her hometown of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija thanks to hard work and a bit of luck.
Leticia Uy started her path in business as a barefooted teenager, going from bus to bus to peddle boiled corn.
“Wala akong step-in no’n hindi ako makabili. Nagtitinda lang ako ng mais sa terminal, umaakyat ako sa mga bus,” she said on “My Puhunan.”
Leticia Uy, owner of NE Mall. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
She said as a teenage girl, other vendors older and bigger than her would often boss her around and push her out of the buses.
Uy, who had no entrepreneurial background and only finished fourth grade, said she had to rely on her dreams to get her through that difficult stage in her life.
“Nangarap ako na pagdating ng araw, yayaman ako. Sabi ko, ‘Nasaan na kaya ‘yung mga tumutulak sa akin noon? Bibigyan ko ng bahay,’” she said.
Uy eventually owned a bakeshop selling the famous pilipit, earning her the moniker “Pilipit Queen” of Nueva Ecija.
Pilipit, a native pastry from Nueva Ecija. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
The bakeshop soon evolved into a three-storey building that housed a restaurant, supermarket and a bookstore.
But Uy did not stop there. After her son floated the idea of building a mall in their small city, Uy decided to take out a loan from a bank to build a shopping mall.
In 1983, Cabanatuan City’s first mall, the NE Mall, was opened.
The 75-year-old Uy now owns three malls and several restaurants, one of which is located in the US.
She said aside from her determination to succeed, what brought her fortune was her honesty to her costumers.
“Looking back, ang nakikita ko na dahilan ay honesty. Very honest ako sa pagbabayad ng utang at hindi ako nanglalamang sa kapwa. Gusto ko ako ang namimigay, ayoko ng binibigyan,” she said.
From one helper, Uy’s bakeshop in now has 3,000 employees working in a big factory. Her food business produces 10,000 pieces of siopao, 300 packs of polvoron, and 900 boxes of brownies daily.
To give back, Uy conducts a medical-dental mission every year. She also provides house and lots for her employees.