Meet the couple behind Laguna's 'famous cakes'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2013 09:33 AM | Updated as of Dec 16 2013 05:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The path to being a successful entrepreneur can start from humble beginnings, as proven by the couple behind Los Baños, Laguna’s “famous chocolate cakes.”

Merle and Nelson Balicao of Mer-Nel’s Cake House started their dream in the cafeteria of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) in the 1970s.

The two became a couple during their stay in UPLB and together they honed their baking and cake decorating skills. They would wed in 1977.

“Galing din ako sa hirap kaya sabi ko baka bagay kami,” Nelson said on “My Puhunan.”

 

Merle and Nelson Balicao of Mer-Nel's Place. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page

 

They put up a small bakery in Los Baños while juggling their careers and raising children.

As their client base grew in the 1980s, they both knew that their bakery business deserves more than the part time attention they are giving it.

From a small bakery, the Balicaos opened a 3-storey events building in their hometown, which is now known as the “home of the famous chocolate cakes” in Los Baños.

Mer-Nel’s sells around 600 cakes a day, specializing in round cakes, rectangular cakes, and rolls.

 

Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page

 

But what made Mer-Nel’s famous is its heart-shaped chocolate cake, which was decorated with a message customized for any given occasion.

“‘Yung mga message na nililigay sa cake, ito ang nagbibigay inspirasyon sa mga umo-order nito,” said Merle.

Mer-Nel’s has also branched out into a full-catering and events service.

 

Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page

 

Despite all their successes, Merle and Nelson have managed to keep a simple lifestyle. The two are always seen at the shop, sometimes mistaken for employees.

“Noong minsan may pumuntang supplier dito, nagde-deal sila ng kanilang product, si Nelson naman nagwawalis siya, naglilinis siya doon. Noong hinanap ang may-ari, tinuro ng isang staff si Nelson, sabi ng supplier, ‘Akala ko janitor niyo,’” shared Merle.

Merle added that they have never fail to give back to the community that welcomed their business.

“Parang kayamanan namin ‘yung marami kaming nabibigyan ng trabaho. Parang naisip ko na paano din namin mashe-share ang aming blessings, kung marami kang natutulungan, isa na sa yaman na kino-consider,” she said.