A lasting legacy
Posted on June 29, 2023
Written by: Edrian B. Banania
Michelle Pascua seizes every opportunity to improve her business amid challenges.
Aside from centuries-old architecture along its streets, Ilocos Sur is also known for its mouth-watering signature dishes. These recipes are part of the Ilocano families’ legacy that has been passed from one generation to another, which can be considered our country’s culinary heritage.
Vigan longganisa and bagnet are quintessentially Ilocano. Because these are the most sought-after food items by tourists in Ilocos Sur, making them provides income-generating activity for many local families in the province.
Teresita’s Bagnet and Longganisa became popular in Vigan City and in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. Michelle Pascua and her other siblings continued the business built by their late grandmother Teresita with the promise that they would pass down her recipe through generations.
It started as a home-based business where they receive orders and directly deliver the products door-to-door. When their grandmother handed down the food business to them before her passing, they focused on growing it together. They purchased space in the market, which paved the way for catering to more consumers and creating a brand in the local market. “Our grandmother told us that we should never lose this family business,” Michelle stated.
These Ilocano cuisines have been their source of income and means of survival, thanks to the inherited skills and passion from their lola.
Michelle took up BS in Elementary Education in college but chose to pursue business. She inherited her lola’s business, allowing her to find balance in her life. She could earn while also spending time with her family. “I ventured into our family business because I’ve always wanted to have complete control over my time and not to be stuck to a single job,” she explained.
As their dreams grew for their family and business, they sought assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to improve their production. From the hand-operated machines, they now have more advanced equipment and machinery that make their production faster and easier, attaining an optimum performance for their operation.
Like other businesses, they also had experienced life’s challenges, such as a lack of business capital, inflation rates, a quick increase in market competitiveness, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all the struggles, Michelle maintained her composure and became optimistic in every situation and survived the pandemic through online selling.
“With all that we’ve been through, I found strength in myself and realized that problems can be opportunities. I found out that it can also be a blessing in disguise,” Michelle explained. The online community helped her reach more customers outside the Ilocos region. Thus, her sales increased even amid the pandemic.
As part of their marketing strategy, they offer discounts for bulk orders and promos to their loyal customers and product distributors. They sell their longganisa products at a price range of PHP 80.00 to PHP 100.00 per kilo based on size preference, while bagnet at a wholesale price of PHP 430.00 per kilo.
With their business’ success, Michelle acquired a car used primarily for delivery. They restored and improved their house, and she can meet her family’s daily needs. They also continue to employ other people in the community. Despite fierce competition, they have expanded their market reach, including the National Capital Region, Baguio City, La Union, and some areas in Visayas and Mindanao.
“This success wouldn’t be possible without the support and trust we have received from CARD SME Bank, especially for my loans that reach up to PHP 500,000, which I used solely for my business,” she stated.
Through the assistance and support of CARD SME Bank, Michelle acquired land and constructed her production facilities.
Her advice to other people who dream of a better life is, “Just keep moving forward regardless of setbacks. Stay strong, and always remember that every problem has a solution. Stay humble, faithful, and optimistic in everything you do in life.
In the coming years, Michelle hopes to build a large storage facility and bring Ilocano pride to more places in the country.