Dingras Food House is a budding enterprise owned by Mr. Jay Gibson Eronico, a seafarer-turned-entrepreneur, from the City of Dasmariñas, Cavite.

in photo: Ribbon cutting ceremony of Dingras Empananda.

The name “Dingras” was inspired by Mr. Eronico’s birthplace, Dingras, Ilocos Norte, which he considers a “comfort place.” The goal of the business was to provide “comfort food” to people deprived by the quarantine protocols during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic which also happens to be the startup phase of the business.

Before Dingras Food house was established, Mr. Eronico was a Demi Chef de Partie in a cruise ship. He was a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management (BSHRM) at International School for Hotel and Restaurant Management (ISHRM) School System, with NC II certificate in Commercial Cooking from Standard Culinary & Technical Skills Training Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Mr. Jay Gibson Eronico as a Demi Chef de Partie in a cruise ship.

Mr. Eronico learned the International Standards on Food Safety (HALAL, HACCP) during his On-the-Job training at Macro Asia where he catered food for international flights. His cooking skill was honed through his work experience with Pizza Hut, Macro Asia, and Resorts World Manila.

When opportunity came in 2015, Mr. Eronico had his first job as Commis de Cuisine II at Allure of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship at that time, and acquired another contract in another company where he got promoted as Demi Chef de Partie in 2019. He was about to return to his job on March 21, 2020 for a new contract when the threat of COVID-19 emerged. Then, he got stuck upon declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) which lasted for months.

During the first months of the lockdown, everything seemed to be fine, until the lockdown continued to extend. Then came a time when they found themselves having only ample amount of money that will not suffice for the remaining months until Mr. Eronico can go back to work again. Mrs. Honeylie Eronico, wife of Mr. Eronico, suggested to use the last resources they have and use it to buy ingredients to cook “bagnet” (a native food from Ilocos) for them to sell. People started to patronize their product and saw that there is a market in their community. They secured all necessary requirements for the registration of the business – from DTI Business Name up to BIR Registration. Bagnet sales performed well but they thought of an innovation. They came up with an idea which they called “Bagnet Creations” wherein a number of dishes such as kare-kare, binagoongan, lomi, sinigang, pancit and sisig were made with bagnet as the main ingredient. This continued on until one of their products – their Original Recipe Empanadas, got famous. Their revenues surged, as they sold thousands of pieces of empanadas for the remaining months of 2020.

Following the success of their empanada, Mr. and Mrs. Eronico decided to expand their market outside their subdivision. Thus, they created their own Facebook page and applied at Food Panda. Aside from Food Panda and Facebook, they also had a reseller from Alfonso, Cavite who sold one thousand five hundred (1,500) pieces of Empanada only during holiday season. Their sales went up and reached almost fifty thousand pesos (Php 50, 000) per month on the remaining months of 2020 with their full menu.

Dingras Empanada

Mr. Eronico said, “Noong holiday season na, mano-mano namin minamasa kada kilo yung dough. Kaya napasabi ako kay Honey, di pala biro itong pinasok natin na negosyo. Labor intensive. Pero talagang pinursue namin ito. Kaya naisip ko yung 100% Labor of Love as slogan. Dahil di ka makakagawa ng isang piraso ng empanada kung di mo mahal ang ginagawa mo. Same din sa buhay namin that time. Dahil gusto ko mag-stay dito sa Pinas. Pinag-sikapan ko talaga itaguyod yung negosyo kahit madaming ups and downs.

However, just when everything was going well in his business, there came his struggle with manpower. His well-trained personnel needed to leave because of a family matter and her study. The lack of manpower affected their whole production and caused their sales to decline.

But, this did not shake Mr. Eronico’s will to start again, Mr. Eronico sought to gain more knowledge in entrepreneurship. He was assisted by DTI Cavite and encouraged joined various DTI-facilitated webinars to expand his knowledge and grow his entrepreneurial skills.

He applied at Small Business Corporation’s “HEROES” program – a loan program specifically offered to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He qualified and was granted One Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php100,000.00) loan amount on February 2021. With this, he was able to establish his first commissary located at Bulihan, Silang Cavite. While operating their commissary, they were also operating online particularly at Food Panda where they acquired their Cloud Kitchen. They invested with two brands that gave them good sales and profit together with their own menu.

Just when things were running smoothly once again, they were not spared and tested positive with COVID-19. They were forced to stop their operation for almost a month and the stocks that were newly purchased were stuck in their inventory. These were already costs as they cannot sell it because of the low quality brought by prolonged time in the storage and they do not want to compromise quality and the safety of their customers.

This time, as a husband and a father seeing his family’s situation, Mr. Eronico asked his wife, “What if I go back to work on a cruise ship again?” But the urge and desire to stay with his family was strong. He wanted his children to grow under his guidance. He loves the thought of his kids waking him up every morning. So once again, he pushed through, and with the help from his family and the learning he acquired from the webinars and trainings he attended, he was able to think of new strategies and start again. He considered past struggles, particularly manpower, and came up with an idea of applying the “power of one product” principle in their business and started focusing on their empanada – their top selling product. They started introducing Dingras Empanada once again in the market and had another reseller around Las Piñas area.

In 2021, he was invited to apply at DTI’s Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) program and was qualified. While running the business, he was also attending virtual sessions. There, he learned and gained more in-depth knowledge about the business and improved his entrepreneurial skills. In fact, he won the “Best Improvement Plan” award during the graduation.

He was also introduced to One Town One Product and helped him improve his product labeling. He was invited to have a stall at SM Bacoor’s Palengke Fresh which gave him additional market and sales. He was also invited and became an exhibitor at KALAKAL CAVITE 2021 Trade Fair at Vista Mall Dasmariñas City. He reopened and relocated his commissary, but now, to a bigger and better place. He then realized that if only you will strive and do something, you will definitely gain something. If you work hard, you will earn great. “May pera pala dito sa ‘Pinas” said Mr. Eronico.

Dingras Food House's KALAKAL Cavite stall.

He was beyond grateful because he did not only learn, but also these programs opened an opportunity to expand his market. He met co-mentees that became potential partners. Further, he has received an offer from his mentor who saw potential on his business and his product, to make an investment to Dingras Food House and make it from Sole Proprietorship to a Corporation that is now on process.

As of today, Dingras Food House has established regular suppliers of raw ingredients and packaging supplies. Aside from their commissary, Dingras Food House is also available at different online platforms such as Grab Food, Food Panda, Deli Rush (Las Piñas), Pick A Roo, and their own Facebook page and website – dingrasdelivery.com. From a market limited only to their neighborhood, to these platforms and still counting.

With his business plan already laid and his franchise model ready, his goal for the year 2022 is to secure a Registered Trademark for their business and finally open it for franchising.♦

Date of Release: 15 August 2022