When people visit the island of Camiguin, they usually go there to experience the relaxing, laid-back ambience and enjoy the beauty of nature. They also go there to personally witness the popular tourist spots and revel in the wonderfully warm waters of the island’s hot springs or their pristine beaches. But your Camiguin trip will never be complete without sampling their delicacies.
Camiguin is popular not only for their sweet lanzones, but also for a variety of food products that perfectly reflect their history and culture. And when we talk about food products from Camiguin, perhaps the most well-known are the soft buns called pastel. VjANDEP pastel, in particular, is a favorite pasalubong item among Filipinos who have set foot on the Island Born of Fire.
Passion and Legacy
The story of how VjANDEP came to be is an inspiring one. With a capital of just PHP 120, Eleanor Popera Jose and her husband Virgilio turned a home business into one of the country’s most well-known brands. Armed with their passion to grow their pastel business, the couple did not just settle for baking the soft buns and then selling them as is. They found ways to improve their product, their processes, their technology, their packaging, and their marketing strategy.
Among the things that really helped propel VjANDEP forward were the interventions they received from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). They received technology intervention through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) and packaging innovation training through the DOST’s Industrial Technology development Institute-Packaging Research and Development Center of the Philippines (ITDI-PRDCP). They also underwent shelf life analysis at the DOST-10 Accelerated Shelf Life Evaluation Laboratory.
The fact that they were able to achieve success through considerable assistance from the DOST gave birth to another passion in the hearts of the Jose couple—the passion to leave a pay-it-forward legacy. Just as they received the necessary help to move their enterprise forward, they want to help small food businesses in Camiguin grow by getting the necessary training and seminars from qualified government agencies and NGOs.
The Camiguin Food Products Association
The VjANDEP management’s desire to help small food businesses in Camiguin led to the creation of the Camiguin Food Products Association (CFPA). An initiative of Eleanor herself, this association aims to get in touch with various government agencies and NGOs so they can partner up to facilitate training programs and seminars that will help the island’s food businesses move forward the way VjANDEP did in the past. If there are existing government programs such as the ones led by the DOST, then the CFPA will do its best to get its member businesses to participate in such programs.
The association also aims to help market the products of member businesses. VjANDEP being the head of the association, it is expected that the products of member organizations will be showcased in their pasalubong center—Gasa. These products will also be sold in VjANDEP stores in Cagayan de Oro and by their distributors in Manila. This is how much the Jose couple believes in the quality of the food products that come from their humble island. And this is how committed they are to building a pay-it-forward legacy.
The creation of the CFPA isn’t just aimed at giving the local food industry of Camiguin a much-needed boost; it is also aimed at boosting the island’s tourism industry. Right now, most tourists still associate Camiguin with no other food than lanzones and pastel. In a few years, with the CFPA going full-blast with their plans for the food and tourism industries, it is expected that domestic and international tourists alike will come to know more about Camiguin’s delicacies and cuisine.
Tablea, coconut sugar, turrones de mani, lanzones vinegar, and piniato—these are just some of the delicacies you should try when you come to the island of Camiguin. Any of them will be sure to satisfy your taste buds without burning a hole through your pocket because they’re not only flavorful, but also highly affordable. And with the help of VjANDEP and the CFPA, more people will soon come to know and love these Camiguin food products.
Don’t wait too long to get a taste of Camiguin’s myriad gastronomic delights. Plan your trip to the small but amazingly beautiful island now and be prepared for the experience of a lifetime. This is one place where all five senses will surely be satisfied, most especially your sense of taste. Have a feast and enjoy!