Genesis Hot Pandesal Spreads Early Christmas Cheers to Marikeños
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“If you are blessed, be a blessing to others,” is how Helino Tiamzon Jr., owner of Genesis Hot Pandesal, explains his devotion to share his blessings to the less fortunate.
Last month, he gave away nearly a hundred pairs of leather shoes to children so that they can use these shoes this school year.
“Galing kasi ako sa baba eh. Dati mayroon kaming sapatusan (shoe business), pero bumagsak. Na-experience ko na ang sapatos ko, bago lang ang swelas (soles). Sasabihin ng lolo ko, maganda ang leather ng Marikina. Pwede pa iyan magamit. Palitan lang ang swelas,” says Helino, who finished Mass Communications in college.
In The Beginning
After working for three years as a medical representative, Helino decided to use his savings (and some money from his then girlfriend and now wife) to put up his own business. He was then assigned in Mindanao and the distance from his home in Marikina where his family was living was too much. It was like working abroad and he was homesick from time to time.
At that time in 2011, the pandesal business was booming in Marikina. So he decided to join the bandwagon. But he wanted not just any kind of pandesal, which is a staple bread for breakfast and snacks in most Filipino homes, but the kind that he used to enjoy when he was a child growing up in the neighborhood of Parang.
We did the interview inside one of his 24-hour bakeshops in Marikina Heights while rain was pouring incessantly on a Wednesday (June 20) afternoon. Even if our stomachs were still full after having coffee and cakes for snacks in a coffee shop elsewhere, we could not help but salivate at the aroma of freshly-baked bread that lingered inside the bakeshop, where a baker was also kneading the dough.
When asked why he went into the bakery business, he says that when he was a child, his father used to ask him to buy bread in a neighborhood bakeshop. He recalls how the scent of newly baked bread would tease his palate, prompting him to hurry his steps so he can buy the pandesal and satisfy his craving right away.
“May bakery akong pinupuntahan noong bata pa ako sa Parang. Palagi akong inuutusan ng erpats (father) ko na doon ako bumili. Hindi siya ganooon kalaki. Maliit lang. Pero bago ako pumunta roon, naamoy ko na ang masarap na amoy ng tinapay na bagong luto. Tapos pagdating mo doon, pipila ka. Iyon ang gusto kong experience na maranasan ng mga customers ko,” he says.
He used the name Genesis, the same name used by his parents in their 18-year-old cellphone repair shop in Parang. His parents are members of Couples for Christ and Genesis is from the Bible, which tells, among others, the stories of Creation and journey of Moses and His people into the Promised Land in the Old Testament.
Helino started with just himself, an experienced baker and a storekeeper. Aside from running the business, taking care of its finances, doing the marketing, he also helped the baker in preparing the bread to make sure that the pandesal of his childhood would be captured by his fledgling bakeshop.
After nearly six months of experimentations, getting feedback from customers on tastes and texture of his pandesal, Helino says he was finally satisfied. This was confirmed when people started lining up on his bakeshop, with some customers telling him that their children simply loved Genesis hot pandesal.
“Ang nakakatuwa, marami akong customers na nagsasabing favorite ng anak nila ang pandesal namin. Kung ma-capture mo iyong taste ng bata, na magustuhan nila ang pandesal, magandang feedback iyon kasi ang bata mahirap pakainin,” says Helino, who has no formal training in baking nor in running a bakeshop.
No to Franchising in the Meantime
With the popularity of his product, with some customers coming from Quezon City and San Mateo Rizal, he is often asked if he would allow his business to be franchised, or if he would open branches in other cities other than in Marikina. He now has seven bakeshops in Marikina, with two located in Parang where it all started.
“Maraming nagtatanong na gustong mag-franchise. Pero sa ngayon, hindi muna. Mahirap i-let go iyong business. Until now, inaaral ko pa siya. Saka gusto kong ma-maintain ang quality ng pandesal namin,” says the 31-year-old self-taught baker and businessman.
He is also not rushing into opening up branches outside of Marikina since that would entail more time and more capital. Right now, he says his hands are full just running and managing seven bakeshops. Despite having people – 30 at the last count – working for him, he still delivers supplies such as flour and sugar to these stores every morning.
Hard work, he says, is the biggest, if not the only factor for his success.
“Walang ibang factors. Hindi swerte. Hindi iyong porke madaming budget. Hard work talaga. You can do anything basta hardworking ka at very consistent ka sa ginagawa mo. The moment na mag-open ang business hanggang mag-close kung pwede nandoon ka,” says the very hands on manager.
Giving Back to Society
With the success of his enterprise, Helino never forgets to say thanks and show his gratitude by sharing his blessings. During his birthdays, he would usually bring groceries to an orphanage in Marikina.
Last year, he decided to give away school supplies to students. This year, he handed out nearly 100 pairs of Marikina-made school shoes to children.
Helino says their parents don’t have to buy anything from the bakery to avail of the free leather shoes. All they need to do is to fill up a form with their names, contact numbers, their children’s shoe sizes and a photocopy of their school ID. Of course, their children should be studying in any of Marikina’s public elementary schools.
“Masarap sa feeling,” the father of three says when asked why he offers free shoes and before that school supplies to Marikina students. “It’s a social responsibility.”
He decided to give away shoes this time as a way of also helping bring back the luster in Marikina’s shoe industry, noting that his family used to run their own shoemaking business.
“Taga-Marikina ako. Taal akong Marikenyo. May sapatusan din kami dati. Masarap kasi ang pakiramdam na maayos ang sapatos mo,” he says.
From September to December, he plans to also gift senior citizens of the city with Marikina-made shoes.
“I wish to do more to help others,” he says, ending the interview, as our stomach is now having a revolution, urging us to buy and taste the sizzling, fresh from the oven bread. We did and our rainy afternoon is never the same again.
(For more about the 24-hour Genesis Hot Pandesal, please visit its Facebook page -- https://www.facebook.com/genesis.pandesal )
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