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CAMIGUIN
The Sweet Taste of Success
Dr. Viel Popera Jose of Vjandep Pastel

Improvisation and innovation are important elements in entrepreneurship, which Dr. Viel Popera Jose knows so well.

Dr. Jose, the operations manager and second-generation owner of Vjandep Pastel, helped his parents start their company from its humble beginnings into what it is now in the island province of Camiguin.

Vjandep Pastel (pronounced with a silent J) is the acronym of his parents’ name: retired Lt. Col. Virgilio Jose and Eleanor Popera.

Now on its 27th year, Vjandep has been reaping recognitions and awards, and getting featured on national television and publications.

A traditional idea

Dr. Jose, the eldest of three children, related how his parents started their business.

“My dad was just a military officer with a meager income, a government employee,” Dr. Jose said.

“This was the dilemma of my parents, because if they wanted to fulfill our dreams, finances would be the biggest hurdle,” he added.

After several business failures, his mother Eleanor decided to set up a business making pastel, a traditional pastry famous in Camiguin composed of homemade buns with sweet custard fillings.

She usually baked this for family and friends during Christmas. But on January 8, 1990, she decided to buy ingredients using her husband’s remaining Christmas bonus, make the specialty pastel, and sell them across the island on foot.

The seed of ingenuity

This business soon grew due to his mother’s hard work. However, the family had to improvise and innovate a lot to sustain production due to the lack of capital.

For example, Dr. Jose related how he had to prepare and clean up the equipment. These included the molders made from the recycled tin cans of evaporated milk, and pastry brush from sanitized disposable rooster feathers for daubing the buns with butter that they got from a grandparent, who was the treasurer of a cockpit.

They also used coco husk for fuel, a winnower for transport, and makeshift drums for an oven.

Three years later, they were able to upgrade equipment through a loan from the Spanish Assistance for Integrated Livelihood (SAIL) in Camiguin in 1993.

Help from DTI

The Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Tulong sa Tao Loan further bolstered Vjandep’s production capacity. This was not the only time DTI helped Dr. Jose’s family.

The family received a bigger loan in 2009 to modernize their operations, amounting to P20 million from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), as part of DTI’s One-Town One-Product (OTOP) program.

“We started growing up with the DTI,” Eleanor said. DTI helped the family in making the business gain access to the appropriate credit facilities of lending institutions, the knowledge and competencies from seminars and training programs, and the market linkages from exhibits.

“From the start, DTI helped us on the marketing side—even up to now, including the nominations for awards, and the recognitions,” she said.

With a capitalization of over P50 million and receiving a whole host of awards like DTI Gawad Entrepreneur, Vjandep is now ranked among the country’s major players in the processed food industry.

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