In photo: Chef Gel Salonga-Datu, owner of Cakes by Gel Salonga

Cakes by Gel Salonga started out as a small, home-based business. Equipped with her home oven, Chef Gel Salonga-Datu began her cake and pastry business by selling cupcakes to family and friends as her first customers. Based in Santa Cruz, Laguna, products of Cakes by Gel Salonga are served in Ted’s Kitchen, a restaurant owned by the Salonga family. Over the years, Cakes by Gel Salonga evolved to go with the demands and trends of customers and built a substantial following on social media. Through this, her market has expanded from Laguna to nearby areas like Metro Manila.

Chef Gel Salonga-Datu has taken her cake and pastry business to a whole new level. Inspired by local delicacies and ingredients, Chef Gel created several masterpieces, such as the Santa Cruz Bibingka Cheesecake and Magdalena Tablea Cake. Soon enough, the decadent and quality cakes of Chef Gel were able to conquer their niche market and be acknowledged in popular dessert lists such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Best Desserts.

Like most businesses, Cakes by Gel experienced a slowdown during the first months of the pandemic. In order to survive and thrive, Chef Gel harnessed the power of technology and social media. Her significant following on social media served its purpose as Chef Gel was able to receive orders online. She has also taken the pandemic as a challenge to further improve her business. She strategized to adjust and position her business for the New Normal. With safety as her top priority, additional precautions had to be taken in her business in terms of production, packaging, and transportation.

In photo: Santa Cruz Bibingka Cheesecake and Magdalena Tablea Cake by Gel Salonga

In 2021, Cakes by Gel Salonga was selected as part of the One Town, One Product Next Generation (OTOP Next Gen) and underwent product development through the Department of Trade and Industry—Laguna Provincial Office (DTI Laguna). As her products promote the pride of place and cultural value of Laguna delicacies and products, Cakes by Gel Salonga revolutionized these delicacies and opened a whole new market not only for her brand but also for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) where she sources out her local ingredients. Aside from OTOP Next Gen, Chef Gel also joined DTI Laguna’s pilot program, #BITS: Boosting Innovation and Technology Startup, where she was awarded the Best Business Improvement Plan (BIP). This August 2022, Chef Gel also participated in DTI and Go Negosyo’s Kapatid Mentor ME—Money Market Encounter Program for Women Sector.

According to Chef Gel, people usually associate government agencies with regulations and taxes. But in reality, there is so much that the government can do. She urges her fellow MSMEs to connect with DTI to avail themselves of programs and services that can help their businesses. These programs are also avenues to connect with other MSMEs; suppliers, potential partners, and target markets can be.

Even if Cakes by Gel Salonga is savoring its sweet success, Chef Gel is still driven to pursue even greater heights. She hopes for continuous growth in her business in five to ten years’ time. She aims to supply her products to supermarkets for a wider market network and, eventually, to be able to export her products to other countries.

When asked for advice to budding and aspiring MSMEs, Chef Gel shared her own mantra, “Don’t take any shortcuts.” She makes sure that she learns and improves her craft and product every day. Also, she emphasized the need to take good care of staff and co-workers who also work hard for your business.

Surely, Cakes by Gel Salonga is one of Laguna’s proudly homegrown MSMEs. With Chef Gel’s dedication to her passion and craft, combined with the assistance of DTI to MSMEs, she is armed and ready to level up cakes and pastries, one native delicacy at a time.

Visiting Laguna soon? Don’t forget to drop by and try Cakes by Gel Salonga at Ted’s Kitchen, km 83, National Highway, Santa Cruz, Laguna.

Date of Release: 05 October 2022