Even though “saging lang ang may puso,” heart is not the only thing the fruit can bear. Hope Palermo, driven by passion and perseverance, was able to achieve her dreams despite the challenges along the way. Strength, love for family, and unwavering faith in God kept Hope on track and led to a successful banana snacks business.
Hope was born to a family of six in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. As the eldest daughter, she had to take on the responsibility of providing for her family needs. She worked as a promodizer for different companies and as a secretary for a review center before landing a job as a cashier at New City Commercial Center (NCCC) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Though the job is stable, the post took Hope away from her family.
In 2004, she married Rey Obien Palermo and soon after became a parent.
Life was not easy, which led Hope to resign from the cashier job and bring her family to Mindanao, in search of a better future. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Her husband lost his job, and their community in Kauswagan found themselves in the middle of armed conflict.
During this period of difficulty, Hope produced and sold banana chips to earn a living, and in so doing, also changed her life. It was Hope’s husband who first took a shot at the banana snacks business. He sailed back to Puerto Princesa, carrying 200 bags of banana chips weighing 100 grams each worth P10. No one on the ship took interest. He then stayed with his older brother who owned a canteen where the bags of chips were displayed. In less than an hour, the chips were sold out raking in Php 2,000 in sales.
Using the Php 2,000 earnings, they embarked on a journey that would allow them to rise from their situation. Hope doubled her efforts as her responsibilities increased. She and her husband did the paperwork and established Real’s Food Products.
The name Real’s Food comes from the last name of their eldest son Christian Real. Real was derived from Hope’s father’s name Reu and Al from her husband’s father’s name.
Hope’s products appeal to a wide range of customers requiring quality, fresh, delicious, and natural snacks. Real’s Food Products provides a nutritious and healthy selection of nibbles made from local organic banana, taro, and coconut sourced from Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
Real ensures that its products are processed with the right amount of sweetness, crunch, and free from chemical preservatives. The first products that rolled out from Real are Banana chips with honey (sweetened). Now through product enhancement and innovation, its processing facility in Barangay Tagumpay, Puerto Princesa churns out different varieties and flavors.
Real’s product started using low-end packaging materials made of only clear plastic with a small label. Eventually, product packaging was upgraded, with a printed and laminated label and stand-up pouch with a zip lock.
With the help of various programs from the Department of Trade and Industry such as the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) program, One Town, One Product (OTOP), and various virtual trade fairs—Hope was also able to innovate and expand her products to include taro and coconut.
Presently, Real products are enjoyed in different tourist destinations across the country. It employs 15 workers, more than half of whom are women.
Some of the retail establishments that carry Real products include SM Supermarket Puerto Princesa and Boracay, Crafts of Boracay, Island Souvenir Pasalubong Cebu, NCCC Supermarket, Hypermarket Mall of Asia, Puerto Princesa International Airport, Drugman Drughouse, among others.
Hope embodies the fearlessness and resilience of women, especially when it comes to protecting and caring for their families. “Don’t stop learning and innovating, for it is the key to your goal,” says Hope. It is an optimistic message that we can only expect from a woman named Hope.♦
Date of Release: 23 September 2020