|Puto King" Rufo Dela Cruz of Calasiao, Pangasinan is featured on ABS-CBN's "My Puhunan." Courtesy of My Puhunan Facebook page
MANILA, Philippines - Meet the Puto King of Calasiao, Pangasinan. Humble, simple and with an unmatched faith in God.
It was these qualities that helped Rufo Dela Cruz, of Bella's Puto, rise from poverty and into royalty.
On ABS-CBN's "My Puhunan," host Karen Davila found out just how an elementary school graduate built his empire from almost nothing.
Back in the early 40s, Dela Cruz had nothing, not even shoes for school.
"Nakapagsuot lang ako ng sapatos nung graduation," confessed Dela Cruz.
Right after he earned his elementary school education, Dela Cruz had to dive straight into work to help his father, who was bringing home a measly P2 for their family of 9.
"Naisipan kong magtinda sa mga pyesta-pyesta nung ako ay 16-years-old kasi kulang din ang nabibigay ko sa kanila," said Dela Cruz.
He sold different types of "kakanin" and packs of cigarettes in a brave effort to help out his family.
But as luck, or in this case, God would have it, it was not until Dela Cruz decided to make batches of "puto" that really helped them get out of poverty.
"Sa katunayan ho, inutang ko yung puhunan namin noon. Yung P70 na yun, pinaikot-ikot na namin," he said.
But it was his determination to wake up every single day and make around 1,200 pieces of puto in his own house, along with his wife, that turned that P70 into millions.
"40,000 to 50,000 ang ginagawa namin araw-araw. Mayroon kaming branches sa Bayangbang, Lingayen, San Fernando. More or less, nabebenta ho namin ay 600 kilos a day," said Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz even owns his own chicken farm, mango farm and rice fields.
But despite his millions, Dela Cruz remained humble. Tending to his herd of cattle himself and overlooking his puto factory every single day.
"Sa akin po parang hindi ako milyonaryo. Ordinary pa rin po ang buhay namin," he said.
Dela Cruz said that he didn't think that puto would earn him millions but also said that he owes everything to God.
"Basta gumawa lang kami. Hindi namin alam kung ano ang plano ng Diyos. Yun na lang ang hinihintay namin. Basta yung prayer namin, bigyan niya kami ng hanapbuhay dito sa Calasiao kasi napagod kami sa pyestahan. Yun na yung bingay sa amn," he said.
But Dela Cruz, instead of showering himself with the blessings God gave him, decided to save it for his children.
Dela Cruz couldn't hold back his tears when he started talking about how blessed he was and how his children wouldn't have to experience the life he had.
"Kasi hindi kami nakapagaral ng aking asawa, gusto ko yung mga bata makatapos kaya yung kinikita namin, iniipon yun. Walang bibiling gamit. Sumunod naman ang asawa ko. Yun ang sukatan namin na makatapos yung mga bata para hindi na nila maranasan yung dinanas ko," he said.
Puto king helps couple
In the "My Puhunan" segment where they have a self-made millionaire meet a struggling poverty-stricken family, Davila took Dela Cruz to meet Melchor and Lani Estrada.
|Rufo Dela Cruz gives advice on how to start a puto business to struggling couple Melchor and Lani Estrada on My Puhunan.
A family of 6, and similar to what Dela Cruz had to do for the sake of his family back then, their eldest son had to leave school to help out as well.
"Yung anak ko, sinabi niya sa akin, 'gusto ko magaral, nanay.' Sabi ko, 'pasensya na anak, wala tayong pera eh,' Lani said.
Despite her working as a "labandera," her husband a "panday" and their eldest son selling sticks of banana cue, their family still finds it difficult to feed themselves everyday.
So Dela Cruz, out of his willingness to help others born from his beliefs, gave the Estrada family a huge stove to be used to bake puto as part of his gift.
"Dahil binayayaan kami ng Diyos, kami rin bibiyayaan din namin kayo para makapagumpisa kayo sa negosyo niyo," said Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz also handed out several kilos of sugar and rice to help jumpstart their own puto business.
Dela Cruz also promised to give their eldest son proper training in his factory.
"Ang puto, pwede niyo gawin ng madaling araw. Gigising kayo ng alas tres, mga alas syete tapos na yan. Habang nagtitinda naman to, nagtratrabaho ka, tapos pagdating niya, magbababad ng bigas, papagiling sa mga anak niyo, pwede niyo na lutuin ng madaling araw ulit," Dela Cruz told the Estrada family.
Dela Cruz also had some parting words of advice.
"Positive ka dapat para hindi ka tayo nakatali sa baba. Dadating din ang araw na and mga anak mo, makakapagaral yan. Magkakaroon ng magandang trabaho sa tulong ng Diyos," he said.