In a province emerging as the next “Tuna Capital” in the country rests the story of a couple who turned their feasibility study school requirement into one of the top distributors of fresh and frozen seafood products in South Luzon.

Established in 2010 in Sablayan, a municipality in Occidental Mindoro, Gerabuenas Trading is engaged in the processing and distribution of seafood products, particularly tuna. They pride themselves on providing consumers with healthy and safe food by ensuring quality and safety in their handling, processing, storing, and distribution of products.

A photo of a man slicing a giant tuna.

Former college sweethearts, Michael and Sherille Gerance, owners of Gerabuenas Trading, established the fish trading business after they tied the knot. Michael Gerance is not new to the industry as he is the son of the owner of one of the pioneers in Occidental Mindoro in fish-buying, Percy Fish Buyer. Backed by all his learnings and experiences from their family business, Mr. Gerance, together with his wife, anchored their mere school requirement into the biggest fish-buying station in the municipality of Sablayan.

At present, Gerabuenas Trading supplies tuna to several major exporters and processors.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in MIMAROPA has always been committed to supporting the national and international growth of the tuna industry in Mindoro. Gerabuenas Trading is a beneficiary of DTI MIMAROPA’s various training and seminars through the years, such as the Qualified Personnel In Regulatory Affairs (QPIRA), a mandatory requirement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food safety management seminar, and training on proper tuna handling among others.

From this, they have implemented some changes in their system and saw significant improvements. Immediately after catching tuna, it should be properly gilled and gutted and must be stored accordingly to maintain its freshness. Otherwise, it will lose much of its export value, so the training and seminars sponsored by DTI helped them a lot with proper tuna handling. Also, with the help of the agency, Gerabuenas operates its facility by following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) to ensure quality and safe tuna products.

With DTI’s help, they were able to acquire their License-to-Operate (LTO) in 2017 from the FDA and Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines’ (IPOPHL) Trademark Registration. Aside from all these, they were equipped with the necessary business development services like marketing assistance, tri-media promotion, product development, and financing facilitation assistance. 

The support coming from the government, and the owners’ tough grind and dedication to work as translated into their success, have contributed to the local economy of the region. Their monthly gross sales tripled and they now employ six full-time employees and eight part-time employees from four full-time and four part-time employees to support their growing production and operations.

Since tuna is highly perishable, the business is not new to challenges. They have encountered a buyer who suddenly backed out, causing so much damage and loss in operations. They had to learn the hard way but now they check out every client they transact with and require permits and licenses.

Occidental Mindoro’s tuna industry is as promising as the sustainable tourism hub it provides. That is why Gerabuenas’ success also reflects the hard work of fisherfolks in the province.

The main facility of Gerabuenas Trading is at Sitio Punta, Barangay Poblacion, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. Interested buyers may reach them at♦

Date of Release: 23 June 2021