MANILA, Philippines – A visit to the country's "culinary capital" of Pampanga won't be complete without sampling Filipino native delicacies such as halayang ube, sapin-sapin, rice cake, and moche.
A household name in “kakanin” is Susie's Cuisine, a family-owned business since the 1970s.
Susie’s Cuisine was named after Susie Ayson-Yabut, who took over the business after her mother retired.
Yabut, like many Amerasians in Pampanga, was abandoned by her American father and was given up for adoption by her Filipina mother when she was a baby.
She said that growing up, she pushed herself to succeed knowing that she was adopted.
“Gusto ko ipakita sa family na OK ‘yung in-adopt nila. Kasi minsan may mga naririnig ako sa ibang tao na, ‘Sigurado ka kaya diyan?’ May pino-prove ka na ang ginastos nila sa’yo at time and effort [ay worth it],” she told “My Puhunan.”
Susie Ayson-Yabut, owner of Susie's Cuisine. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Susie’s Cuisine only started out as a small carinderia, but later found success in native delicacies, particularly its “tibok-tibok,” a Kapampangan pudding made with carabao’s milk.
Yabut said the business sells 300 trays of tibok-tibok daily.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, Susie’s Cuisine was wiped out, forcing Yabut and her husband Glenn to move to Manila to seek greener pastures.
But the opportunity in their hometown lured Yabut and her husband back to Pampanga.
Raising more than P200,000 as capital, Susie’s Cuisine again opened its doors and added more delicacies and dishes to its menu.
Susie's Cuisine in Pampanga. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
There are now 14 Susie’s Cuisine branches in Central Luzon, raking in up to P5 million during the Christmas season.
Yabut attributed her success to her adoptive mother Anicia.
“Kasi parang nagtagpo din kami ni Nanay ko, kasi sa tingin ko single siya, kailangan niya ng family, tapos kami kailangan din namin ng family. Ngayon naaalagaan namin siya kaya parang payback time, parang in place lahat,” she said.