Maricel Concepcion and Rolinda Monteclaro, both selling food for a living, wanted to add new items to their menu to offer something different and entice more customers.
So when a free cooking class opened in their community both joined eager to learn.
“Gusto ko po talagang sumali sa cooking class para magkaroon ng higit na kaalaman sa pagluluto at ma-apply ko po sa pagtitinda namin. Nag-o-online (selling) po kami at gusto rin namin magtayo ng kainan,” shared the 39-year-old Concepcion.
Monteclaro, 38, is likewise grateful for the program.
The cooking classes they were referring to was San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) community-based Cookery Classes for former settlers in Barangay Taliptip, in the municipality of Bulakan.
SMC’s cooking program, along with other training programs, are aimed at teaching new skills to relocatees who used to reside in Taliptip, future site of the company’s New Manila International Airport.
Bringing opportunities closer
SMC president Ramon Ang said the short programs were devised to cater to relocatees, particularly mothers, who were not qualified for scholarships in the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) and could not leave their homes for training.
“Our goal was to give them adequate training, even for a short time near their homes, on skills that they can immediately use for business,” he added.
San Miguel teamed up with Barangay Taliptip community training organizer Edna Ramos to organize the classes where students learned from certified TESDA trainers.
Over 100 relocatees have completed short courses in community-based entrepreneurship and reselling, beads and accessories making, fish deboning, tinapa making, shrimp paste and dessert making, doormat making, and most recently, cookery.
“With our experience in the food business and the ongoing trends during this pandemic, we know that food remains a viable business for homemakers. The use of online platforms will also help them expand their market beyond their immediate communities,” Ang said.
Cooking to earn
SMC funded the purchase of masks, cooking gear and equipment, and ingredients for the classes held at the venue provided by Taliptip barangay captain Michael Ramos.
For five days, the trainees learned the proper measuring of ingredients and familiarized with equipment and preparation of ingredients before doing the actual cooking. The last batch of trainees completed their training on August 5.
“Puro fast learner na sila. Basta yung instruction malinaw ay kaya nilang sundan,” noted trainer Yolly Villarama, who teaches food processing, cookery, housekeeping, food and beverage service, and flower arrangement in TESDA.
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 trainees some leeway on what to cook.
Concepcion and Monteclaro both preferred Chicken Cordon Bleu and Gelatin Con Leche, noting their salability. “Kakaiba po yung panlasa niya at alam kong tatangkilikin po siya,” Concepcion said.
Learning the important things
“Ang lagi ko pong sinasabi sa mga estudyante ay sipag at tiyaga lang ang kaakibat ng training na ito,” Villarama said. “Dapat alam nila ang proper procedure [...] ano ang tamang pagluluto. Kinakailangan talaga na pati yung personal hygiene bago magluto ay alam nila.”
Concepcion learned the importance of personal hygiene and cleanliness of cooking equipment to ensure the food is clean and safe for consumption.
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.”
Ramos 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.
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