Roast beef, salad, croquettes, and cakes—these are among the sumptuous fiesta packages offered by Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services. Photo from Facebook page of Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services.
Roast beef, salad, croquettes, and cakes—these are among the sumptuous fiesta packages offered by Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services. Photo from Facebook page of Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services.

Racquel Tamula always has a knack of setting a goal and aiming for it.

Her special skill can perhaps be attributed to her active membership in the gun club in Iligan City. Together with her husband, Racquel frequently attended target shooting competitions even way back in the 1990s. Usually organized as one of the major activities during peak seasons such as the city fiesta and other holidays, the shooting competition would usually last up to three days and attended by sometimes more than 300 national and even international participants.

It was during one of these events when Racquel and her husband saw an opportunity to start a business. The couple noticed that no caterers were willing to accept the daunting task of serving lunch and meals to the large number of shooters. No one was even willing to set up a food station for the culmination.

 “That was when we started preparing their meals,” Racquel shared. “And by God’s grace and with a lot of hard work, the business grew from there.”

Years after stepping up to the challenge of catering hundreds of guests, Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services grew to become one of the most trusted and well-loved catering services in Iligan City.

Yet this catering shop along Tubod Highway, Camague, Iligan City had to face some changes to navigate the business in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Racquel managed to pay some of her payables with the financial assistance through the Bayanihan COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprise (CARES) Program of the Small Business (SB) Corporation, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Bayanihan CARES is the government’s economic relief program for micro and small enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial assistance can be used to update loan amortization for vehicle loans or other fixed asset loans of the business, replace inventory for perishable stocks damaged, or as a working capital replacement to restart the business.

While there were still a few clients who wanted to avail of the catering’s services at the start of the pandemic, Racquel declined the offers for the safety of her employees and everybody else. The catering instead gave a full refund to booked events that were cancelled; and the food prepared for the supposed upcoming events were sold as pre-cooked food in family-sized quantities.

Wala gyuy na-usik (Nothing was wasted),” Racquel shared. “On-call waiters handled the delivery services and delivery fees went to their own pockets.”

A few months later, the catering business introduced fiesta packages good for 10-15 people where customers can get several food platters including appetizers and desserts at a very reasonable price.

Aside from the new food choices, Racquel took some measures to protect her workplace against COVID-19. Most of her regular staff were allowed to stay in the catering’s staff house and were provided with sufficient food and internet connection.

When the catering service started to once again accept bookings when the quarantine restrictions in Iligan City were eased, waiters were made sure to wear face masks and face shields while food servers additionally wore gloves.

The catering’s own venue, Racquel’s Pavilion, was constantly sanitized with a hospital-grade UV sterilizer before and after every event.

“We also provided them [employees] vitamins to boost their immune system,” Racquel said. “And ang amo staff, especially ang on-call, we had to pick them up and bring them home sa among own vehicle (And our own staff, especially the on-call, we had to pick them and bring them home using our own vehicle).”

Despite the challenges, Racquel continues to aim for the success of her business by looking out for the welfare of her employees.

“We will continue to practice and adhere to the required safety and health protocols,” she said. “We also will update on trainings and seminars on proper food handling.”

Once businesses are normalized, the catering shop is looking forward to invest in new kitchen and catering equipment to keep up with the new trends and renovate its commissary to make service more efficient.

Whether it’s serving hundreds of athletes or facing new trends brought by the pandemic, Racquel’s Bakeshop and Catering Services has proven that it will stand on its ground, ready to take aim to the target ahead. ♦

Date of Release: 28 May 2021