Los Baños-based establiHUESments (FebFair2018)

by: Shaznhae Lagarto, Joyce Santos, and Margarite Igcasan

The University of the Philippines Los Baños February Fair (UPLB FebFair) 2018, with the theme “Arangkada” was a week-long celebration that served as a platform to protest on the current jeepney modernization program, to campaign for other advocacies, and to inform and entertain the mass within the heart’s month period. It also served as an avenue for different establishments from Los Baños and nearby communities to take place.

Diverse entrepreneurs took the opportunity to showcase their business during the FebFair, making the event bright and full of colors. Now ride on the jeep and settle down, dahil tayo ay aarangkada na papunta sa local establishments ng Los Baños ngayong FebFair.

Yellow, the color of the sun. Sunnyside up! Most students struggle budgeting money for food and other expenses. As a response, Albert Valencia, an entrepreneur, ventured the food industry and gave birth to Bogart’s Bentelog. Bogart’s Bentelog is quite famous with UPLB students because it is one of the eateries that sell meals at the cheapest rates.

Credits: Bogart’s Bentelog Facebook Page

With Bogart’s Bentelog, your twenty pesos will already be a cup of fried rice, either hotdog or longganisa, and egg. Other meals offered costs from 30-50 pesos. Since he put up his business three years ago, he had been setting up a booth at the fair.

Valencia, a former student councilor, has a passion of serving people. Like many students, he had experienced having to eat canned goods and instant noodles to budget his allowance. Not having a job at that moment, he thought of a way possible to earn money and serve the people at the same time.

“Isa sa mga pangunahing problema ng mga estudyante yung konting baon, naranasan ko rin yun. So, I thought of a meal na kasyang kasya sa budget ng mga estudyante. Hence, the bentelog — pinakamurang silog around campus,” says Valencia.

Bogart’s Bentelog booth in the Arangkada FebFair 2018 with owner, Albert Valencia. (first one from the right) Credits: Bogart’s Bentelog Facebook Page

As an entrepreneur, one of his principles is that you have to be “all-in with the business or not at all, because it’s hard when it’s half-hearted. Driven by his passion, principle, and experiences, he invested all of his savings of around 15 to 20 thousand pesos and had a friend invest another 10 thousand to start the place where students can have affordable meals.

Starting the business, he became the cook, dishwasher, cashier, accountant, human resource, and the mascot at the same time. “Great success comes to those who persevere.” With his business’ mission and vision in mind, he slowly but surely had his business grow and venture other places.

At the present, he has four branches: two located at Los Baños, one at Perpetual Biñan, and the other at Cavite. He is no longer running the business alone and now has his own set of employees. His business is continuing to grow as it is now up for franchise and is contracting with supermarkets.

“We are very much willing to help you start your own business and to open up for franchising,” Valencia adds.

For more information, you can contact them through their Facebook page.

Blue is the color of tranquility and having peace. Just passing by the Los Baños Advocates of Animal Welfare’s (LB-AAW) booth would turn your frowns upside down. In their booth is a bundle of peace and joy in the form of snouts and paws.

Their booth showcased some of their dogs that are up for adoption in a “Dog Kisses and Cuddles” service, and merchandise such as dog and cat pins, pouches, and snacks. These are made by their volunteers and all proceeds will be given to support the needs of the animals.

LB-AAW’s products displayed at their booth in the Arangkada FebFair 2018, featuring pins, stickers, cushions, snacks and many more.

LB-AAW’s dog kisses and cuddles service at the Arangkada FebFair 2018.

LB-AAW is a donation-driven and volunteer-run, SEC-registered, non-government organization that advocates for animal welfare. They aim to educate people, especially from Los Baños, on responsible pet ownership, and spread campaigns like “Adopt Don’t Shop”, “Love Beyond Breed” and rabies awareness. This is done through the facilitation of their Facebook group and page.

Credits: LB-AAW Facebook Page

They also facilitate the adoption of pets. The organization maintains a foster-care system in which they take in a few dogs from pounds and put them up for adoption.

“Inaanyahang po namin kayong maging bukas palad sa mga aso at ituring po natin sila ng [tama] at hindi lamang bilang utilitarian na mga hayop kung hindi bahagi rin ng ating pamilya,” says Mart Reinier Fernandez, the Publicity Relations Head of LB-AAW.

The adopted dogs and cats from LB-AAW have found new homes and forever families. They are now being cared for instead of experiencing cruelty in streets or from their former owners. Adopting means saving another dog or cat’s life. Having pets also is not just having utilitarian companions, it is having new family members. 

Green. The perfect color to signify nature. Melori Suiza started her plant-selling business with the mixture of her hobby and green thumb. From propagating, collecting and growing plants, and participating garden shows, she is now able to have her own garden where she sells plants such as cacti, bonsai trees, and flowering plants she took care of herself.

Credits: Olie’s Garden Facebook page

Being a Los Baños resident, she was well aware of FebFair but she had no intention then to take place at the fair because the event lasts for just six days. She participates at fairs and garden business gatherings that usually take 12 days at the maximum. But when she join the fair last 2015, she realized that the fair is actually good.

“Ang payo ko lang, mas magandang hobby ang [pagha]halaman, kasi dito pwede kayong kumita. Pwede ninyo siyang [mga halaman] gawing business, kasi masaya talaga. Ako mismo, na-eenjoy ko rin,” says Suiza.

Her plants range from 25-3500 pesos depending on the plant size and type. She uses Facebook as a platform for her business but mainly, it is at her home at Bayog, Los Baños.

Olie’s Garden’s potted plants during the Arangkada Febfair 2018. Credits: Olie’s Garden Facebook Page

Brown and crafty. Lastly, there was a booth at the fair that sells creative products that are made locally from recyclables. The Tuntungin-Putho Women’s Brigade brought their business to the fair again this year. “Bags for Life” is where they sell crafts such as bags made from newspapers and flower beads. They also sell cactus, keychains, and accessories. Their products cost from as low as 25 pesos for the keychains, and 200 pesos for the bags.

Bag’s for Life’s handmade bags from recycled paper showcased at the Arangkada FebFair 2018.

With a training that took 3 months, Ghay Mamiit began making newspaper bags from telephone directory sheets, gift wrappers, magazines, and newspapers. She has been making bags for eight years now, while the flower beads they make from fiberglass were sometimes made with help from street children in their barangay. Aside from the febfair, they also participate in other exhibits to showcase and to promote their products not only in their barangay but also in other communities. Their business is supported by Brgy. Captain Ronaldo Oñate and is located at Tuntungin-Putho’s barangay hall.

“Iniimbita ko kayong mga nakakakilala o nakakaalam ng aming produkto, sumadya lang kayo sa amin sa Brgy. Tuntungin-Putho at nandoon lamang kami at ang aming mga produkto,” says Mamiit.  You may visit their Facebook page for more information. 

Bags for Life’s handmade flower ornaments and keychains made from fiber glass.

These are the different new colors that stood out at the fair. Community businesses founded by these people that are found primarily at Los Banos were founded by diverse driving forces such as mission and vision, advocacy, hobby, and creativity. Businesses do not always start with monetary investments and above-mentioned businesses are the very example of businesses that were fired up by personal motivations.

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