After living in different countries – USA, Russia and Oman for two decades, Ms. Monina Dela Cuesta Balubayan decided to go back to her hometown, Santa Maria, Laguna in the year 2013. Thinking that her age is above the limit to apply for a job, she thought of what could be her source of income. With all her thoughts that every business should start from being small, she then came up with the idea of starting a small café business in year 2014. Aside from coffee, she offered pasta, rice meals, noodles and boodle fight meals. The café business has been her bread and butter. But years after, she decided to close the business.

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Fast-forward in 2018, Ms. Monina put all the efforts to master the pizza-making. She thought that putting-up a pizzeria in her hometown would be a hit since there is no existing home-made pizza parlor in the area. On May 11, 2018, her dream turns into reality as she registered the business name Monina’s Pizzeria at the Negosyo Center Santa Maria. She had learned about the services she could avail at the Negosyo Center.

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At first, she offered take-out orders with only two flavors. But when she joined the food park during the Marilag Festival, more people loved her pizza and the increase in demand had begun. She then added more flavors to satisfy the cravings of her customers. A few months later, she was able to revamp her vacant space in Brgy. Bagong Pook, Santa Maria, Laguna and started to accommodate dine-in customers. Since then, the pizzeria added more items in their menu list like pasta, nachos, and fries to match the pizza.

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In 2019, Ms. Monina was able to attend the coaching session on E-Marketing at the DTI Negosyo Center Santa Maria. She had learned the importance of online presence and was assisted in creating a free business website through Google My Business. This way, Monina’s Pizzeria can now be found online at where people could see her contact details and the directions on how to get to her place. She also created a Facebook page for the business. The pizzeria became more popular because of the social media posts, and people find it convenient to order and/or reserve seats through mobile or Messenger.

Also, Ms. Monina was endorsed to the DTI Kapatid Mentor Micro Enterprises (KMME) Program 2019 and has qualified to become a mentee. Despite her busy schedule, she managed to finish the mentoring program. Her KMME journey has boosted her knowledge in marketing, costing and pricing, and a better understanding of business. She was grateful for all the support provided by DTI and Negosyo Center.

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Monina’s Pizzeria is continuously striving to improve the quality of their products to meet the customers’ satisfaction. Recently, they acquired a bigger oven and offered Barangay size (30 inches) pizza. Now, the pizzeria is generating a much greater income, especially on holidays. And now, she’s still in disbelief that she has been gaining from something that she love to do, and that is creating pizza for her clients. The secret recipe to business success is putting the right amount of ingredients – time, hard-work, passion, and knowledge.

by: Joemarie C. Valizado

Date of Release: 6 December 2019