MANILA, Philippines – The once dark and bitter life of a former drug addict and alcoholic is now a life full of color and sweetness, thanks to the success he reaped from making pastillas, a popular Filipino delicacy made from carabao’s milk.
Ariel 'Aying' Viñas, the proud owner of Aying's Homemade Pastillas in Nueva Ecija, grew up without a father's guidance and was lured into the world of drugs and alcohol as a teenager.
Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
In the early age of 14, Viñas was forced to work and help his mother in their homemade pastillas business.
But instead of saving up for his future, he said he used up all his earnings on alcohol and illegal substances.
“Parang nakawala ako nun eh, hindi ko pinapakinggan ‘yung nanay ko kasi hindi na ako takot. Iba ‘yung gabay ng ama. ‘Yung kinikita ko, napupunta sa inom, sa barkada, sa drugs,” he told “My Puhunan.”
Life in Nueva Ecija became difficult for Viñas, who spiraled into depression and substance abuse.
“Nakita ko ‘yung buhay ko pabaon na ng pabaon eh. Hindi ko na makita ‘yung liwanag, hindi ko na makita ‘yung bukas kasi nga wala na kong pinapangarap. Ang gusto ko ay mamatay na lang para matapos ang problema,” he said.
Reckless and high on drugs, Viñas and his friends would spend their days and nights searching for the ultimate rush.
Their binge would take a dangerous turn one night when, on board a car with its brake cables cut, Viñas and seven of his friends were injured in a road crash.
Viñas suffered a massive cut in his head, and broke both his legs.
But this incident did nothing to stop his dance with the devil.
“Pagkatapos noon, hindi pa, kahit nakasemento ang paa ko at nakasaklay, tuloy pa din. Mayroon pa ding nagsu-supply sa akin ng drugs,” he said.
Turning it around
Viñas began turning the corner when he met his future wife, Nancy, and decided he had to clean up his act for the sake of love.
At 25, Viñas gave sobriety a shot and started anew.
But 11 years of a drug-addled lifestyle came back to haunt Viñas when his firstborn died two days after birth.
Viñas again started to dabble in drugs and alcohol in an attempt to escape the pain of losing his child.
“Masakit, pagkadumating ka pala sa time na ‘yun na talagang mararamdaman mo ‘yung pagkakaiba ng mayaman sa mahirap. Unang una, gusto mo magamot ‘yung anak mo, ‘yung mga magawa kang paraan, pero wala kang magawa,” he said.
The loss of his child was the final test that Viñas had to endure before finally breaking free from his dark past.
His wife Nancy gave birth to another child, but was forced to leave the baby in Viñas’s care as she worked as a factory worker in Taiwan.
This set-up, although not ideal, was what made Viñas reassess his life.
“Mahirap kasi pasan mo lahat ng obligasyon eh, hindi ka pwedeng gumawa ng kalokohan kasi kasama mo ang anak mo eh. Kung magbarkada ako o mag-inom ako baka mapabayaan ko ‘yung anak ko,” he said.
Using the techniques he learned from his mother, Viñas revived their homemade pastillas business on his own.
As sales grew, Nancy returned to the Philippines to help in the production.
Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Viñas and Nancy now have two children and oversee the operations of Aying’s Homemade Pastillas, which currently produces around 200 boxes of pastillas daily.
With the days of being a junkie long behind him, Viñas said he owes all of his success to God.
“Gusto ko maging tagumpay ngayon ‘yung mapalapit ako sa Diyos, kasi sabi nga nila maiksi lang ang buhay eh. Gusto ko gawin ngayon ‘yung best kung paano ko pagsisihan ang mga kasalanan ko, kasi naging makasalanan ako eh. ‘Yun siguro ang pinakatagumpay ko kung naandon na ako,” he said.
“Siya ang nagbago ng buhay ko, hindi ako. Kasi ako wala akong magagawa eh, kasi mas masaya ako doon eh, pero binago niya.”