Elena’s bakery has streaked a win again.
Elena Tuale Ibera, at one time, appeared slowly out of the cubicle of her bakery, and cast a smile, and faced a local tourist from Cebu City, and greeted him, “Good morning.” The tourist answered, “Good morning, Mam, may I have a bag of otap?”
That would become a routine at her bakery, and sometimes, Elena’s customers had to make some reservation for orders of her popular “otap” as supply would run out in a day.
Unassuming and low-key, Elena would give an impression that she is not up to a crackling success, but around her bakery, she is a warm force to reckon with. Her strength is her silence, and her silence has given her an intense focus to sustain her bakery’s production.
Last March 28, 2022, Elena made some delivery of “otap” to her customers just when DOST Region 7 recognized her as one of the four winners in Central Visayas as Most Gender Resilient and Gender Responsive Woman Entrepreneur.
“Salamat,” she said, and went her way again back to her bakery.
The story of Elena’s Bakery is a story of a woman’s positive response to a challenge to see her worth, to empower her being, and to write her future. She believes that whatever life dumps on her, she would not be undermined.
She said: “Sa akong katungod, namugna ning Elena’s Bakery kay naka-experience ko sa una nga wala ko tagai og balor isip usa ka industrial partner sa usa ka bakery. Ang ilang promise nila nga ihatag nako wala matuman. Sayangan ko nga akong gugma sa baking og decorating mawala ra. So naningkamot ko sa pagpundar para sa akong bakery. Ako na-realize nga bisan usa ako ka babaye, kaya nako nga mahimong usa ka single-proprietor.” (Elena’s Bakery has been put up because I have had an experience before that I was not given due value as an industrial partner in one bakery that I used to work for. My partners did not deliver what they promised to me. I don’t want to shelve my love for baking and decorating. So, I have worked hard to invest in a bakery. I have realized that even if I am a woman I could become a single-proprietor.)
In 2008, she started her business venture from a small loan capital. She knew a growing market in the province of Siquijor existed for her products in lieu of celebrations of fiestas, birthdays, or wedding anniversaries. Eventually, her plain loaf, cinnamon loaf, assorted breads, sliced breads, mammon, and ensaymada would become favorite preference to the taste buds of customers.
As customers’ orders increasingly poured in, she asked for the intervention of the Department of Science of Technology through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP with the purposes of introducing efficient baking technologies to improve quality product and increase production by 30%; to extend product shelf life and increase storage capacity through the introduction of appropriate storage technology; and to increase revenue by 30%.
She continued: “Naa koy unom ka workers – tulo ka babaye og tulo ka mga lalaki. Ang mga babaye sila maoy akong helpers og packers; unya ang mga lalaki maoy silay naka-assign sa oven. I see to it nga ang ilang trabaho pinasigo sa ilang katakos og sa ilang pagkatawo. Pananglitan, ang akong gi-assign sa oven mao ang mga lalaki tungod kay sila maoy mas maka-agwanta sa kainit and then ang mga babaye sa baking tungod kay nagkinahanglan man siya og sensitivity sa kamot.” (I am employing six workers – three women and three men. The women are my helpers and packers while the men are assigned with the ovens. I see to it that their respective assignment is aligned with their capacity and gender differences. For instance, I assign men with the ovens because they have more tolerance with heat while I assign women with baking because it would require some kind of sensitivity with hands.)
As to her management, she quipped: “Kada adlaw ako ipabalo sa ako mga workers among target of production. So aware sila unsa ilang specific nga buhaton. Hands-on pud ko — so along our production, naa pud ko magkasupervise closely nila. Ang importante, ako sila gitagaan og panahon to rest and to recharge.” (Everyday, I would tell my workers our target of production. So they are aware of what to do. I am also a hands-on collaborator so along our production I could supervise them closely. What is important is that I am giving them rest in between production for them to recharge their energy.)
Elena remains a woman of many possibilities. Aside from manning her bakery, she also engages with tending her cows, sewing, and performing beauty services like manicure or pedicure. She said this is her way of looking for other sources of income in case man-made or natural calamities would render her bakery non-operational.
Right now, Elena’s bakery is earning at least P10,000.00 a day. That is a handsome dividend to create a dependable livelihood for her family and for generating employment in the locality of Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor.
Elena and her bakery would become a testimony of a woman’s strength, resilience, and faith in life’s good and awesome possibilities. (by: Jose Aldous R. Arbon II)