MANILA – An activist turned buko pie magnate.
This is the story of Plaridel dela Cruz, the man behind the Filipino "pasalubong" favorite Colette's Buko Pie.
During the Martial Law era, dela Cruz was sent to jail because of his activism, and was detained for a year.
Dela Cruz said he was beat up several times while he was in custody. His then-pregnant wife, Regina Bulatao-dela Cruz, was also detained.
"Mga simpleng torture, 'yung konting pitik...susuntukin ka, sa inidoro, mga ganoon," he told "My Puhunan."
Plaridel dela Cruz, the founder of Colette's Buko Pie. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
This experience did not dampen the spirit of dela Cruz, and when he was released, he immediately got back on his feet to start a food business.
With P5,000 as capital, he and his wife put up a buko pie store named after their daughter, Colette.
“Noong panahon kasi na ‘yun, si Colette ay nag-aaral ng high school sa UP Los Banos. Malimit kaming pumupunta roon. Malakas na ang buko pie nu'n sa Los Banos,” he said.
Colette's Buko Pie began by selling around 20 boxes of buko pie per day. Today, dela Cruz said the business sells up to 200 boxes daily.
From its first store in San Pablo, Laguna, Colette's has expanded to 50 branches nationwide.
“Mine-maintain namin ‘yung quality, hindi nababago. Kung ano ‘yung nasimulan namin na timpla, ganoon pa din, hindi nagbabago hanggang ngayon,” said dela Cruz.
Colette's Buko Pie. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Dela Cruz's story is not that different from the story of Ferdinand Santos, a former ex-convict who is trying to find a peaceful and successful life outside of prison.
With his days of gambling, theft, and illegal drugs behind him, Santos sells pancakes and spaghetti when he is not spending his time preaching to street kids.
“Gusto ko lang imensahe sa mga nakaka-relate sa buhay ko na hindi dahil nasa lugmok na kalagayan na tayo ay hanggang doon na lang. May pag-asa po hanggang nabubuhay, nandiyan si Lord,” he said.
Ferdinand Santos. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Through "My Puhunan," dela Cruz shared to Santos a recipe for "espasol" to help him improve his daily earnings.
Dela Cruz also provided Santos with additional cash as well as several boxes of buko pie that he can sell in his neighborhood of Antipolo.