Rolinda Monteclaro, 38, has been selling food for a living in Bulakan town.
Along with former settlers from Barangay Taliptip, the future site of San Miguel Corporation's (SMC) airport project, she was relocated to a home in a nearby barangay, but has continued her small business in the pandemic.
“Nag-o-online (selling) po kami at gusto po rin namin magtayo ng kainan,” said 39-year-old Maricel Concepcion, who also joined the class.
She and 49 others joined SMC’s community-based Cookery Classes, among a suite of training programs in partnership with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to upskill and enable relocatees in the communities of Sta. Ana, Bambang, Tibig, and San Nicolas.
The Cookery Classes attracted mostly mothers who wanted to help their families earn while they shelter in their homes.
Monteclaro, 38, said she will be able to cook more dishes and add to her menu. “Malaking tulong po ito sa akin dahil nagtitinda po ako at ito po ay nakakatulong sa akin para magkaroon ako ng ibang menu sa ginagawa ko pong pagtitinda,” she said.
SMC funded the purchase of masks, cooking gear, cooking equipment, and ingredients as the classes were held at the venue provided by Taliptip barangay captain Michael Ramos.
For five days, the relocatees learned the proper measuring of ingredients, familiarization with equipment, proper preparation of ingredients, and the actual and proper cooking procedure.
“With our experience in the food business and the ongoing trends during this pandemic, we know that food remains a viable business for homemakers,” said SMC president Ramon S. Ang.
“The use of online platforms will also help them expand their market beyond their immediate communities.”
“Puro fast learner na sila. Basta yung instruction malinaw ay kaya nilang sundan,” said trainer Yolly Villarama, who teaches food processing, cookery, housekeeping, food and beverage service, and flower arrangement at TESDA.
“Hirap sila sa una but since marami silang tinatanong at dahil nagiging open forum ay maganda yung nagiging outcome ng pagtatanong nila,” she added.
The short curriculum included courses on how to make mother sauces, salad and salad dressings, stocks sauces and soups, and vegetables and meat dishes, but Villarama also gave the relocatees some leeway on what to cook.
“Paminsan-minsan po may mga request sila na mga pagkain so yun po yung ginagawa naming para mas mabilis silang matuto at maibenta rin nila agad,” Villarama said.
Concepcion shared her observations about what dishes would sell.
“Yung Gelatin Con Leche and yung Chicken Cordon Bleu, maganda po sya na i-online selling. Kakaiba po yung panlasa niya at alam kong tatangkilikin po siya,” she said.
Concepcion added the importance of maintaining a clean kitchen. “Ang natutunan ko po yung kalinisan sa sarili higit po yung sa mga kasangkapan aming ginagamit para po maging malinis ang aming niluluto. Makakatulong po siya sa hanapbuhay dahil higit sa mababang presyo ay alam po namin na magiging masaya yung bibili sa amin at tatangkilikin po kami.”
Monteclaro added: “Ang natutunan ko sa kanya ay wag pachamba-chamba. Kahit marunong ka na talaga magluto, gagamit ka ng panukat o measuring cup para po maging okay yung panlasa ng mga pagkain.”
Apart from cookery, the SMC and TESDA trainings have taught close to 100 relocatee-students in courses like dressmaking, accessory-making, fish deboning, tinapa making, shrimp paste and dessert-making, heavy equipment operation, electrical installation and maintenance, shielded metal arc welding, and community-based entrepreneurship and reselling. However, some relocatees were not qualified for TESDA scholarships and could not leave their homes for training.
Edna Ramos, community-based training organizer and San Miguel partner, said that more than the skills, the training gave the relocatees confidence on how to better support their families.
“Napakalaking tulong po ang proyektong ito dahil nagkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang mga relocatees na hindi lamang sa pangingisda maaring kumita. Ang kasanayang kanilang natutunan ay magiging bahagi na ng kanilang pamumuhay at maari nilang pagkakitaan ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Ramos said.