The History of Lucky Theo’s Food Products.

Success starts with a dream. And with that dream, a step. With a step, strides until that dream is achieved. Mrs. Suerte Mia Soriano was molded by life’s difficulties but these did not hinder her from carrying on with her dreams. She paved her way to getting a diploma and worked as a job order employee in the Department of Education for three years. However, because the salary was given only after the months of toil, her husband decided to make her stop. And to help him, she tried swine and chicken raising, and selling, to support the finances of the family.

Success starts with a dream

Lucky Theo, the business’ name was after their only child, started from the love of learning. The owner, Mrs. Soriano, begun a small scale business with her own recipe in cooking patterned from the recipe on making Banana Chips published in a magazine she once read. She easily sold these products in a nearby school as they are very affordable in one peso or five pesos only, and thus, she was encouraged to cook more. She then added puto, donut, and coated peanut in her basket and distributed to neighboring stores. During Saturdays, she drives her motorcycle and roams around their community with her products. From the capital of Php 1,500, she profits an amount of Php 700-800. So much happiness motivated her to continue her business until she heard feedback that her coated peanuts have molds.  She tried to address this problem, to no avail.

Her fondness of reading brought answers to her needs. With the Bannawag magazine, she was able to read the ‘Para kadagiti Inna: Nayon a Pagsapulan para iti Pamilia’ by Ms. Mercy Gano of MMSU Extension Directorate. This article showcased the recipes in making polvoron, pastillas, and tamarind candy. In response to the announcement enjoined in the article, she wrote to the MMSU President requesting technical assistance on how to cook coated peanut, polvoron, pastillas, and others. The training team also created a label and ‘etiketa’ for the five-peso banana chips she sold to other barangays. Through the Business Resource and Development Center (BRDC), she borrowed Php 5,000 as additional capital. With such support and guidance, she decided to persevere in her business to be able to pay the amount she borrowed.

Exhaustion became a challenge being the sole worker in her business and so, she hired a helper. Since the number of her customers also increased, the need for a vehicle came in to cater to customers from other places. She took the courage to buy a motorcycle on a three-year installment basis. As she aspired to move farther, then reached the towns of Batac, Dingras, and Solsona. With God’s grace, she was able to pay her debt to MMSU for only six months.

Success starts with a dream

After some time, the Extension Directorate endorsed her to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in its project Upgrading of Process and Equipment for Ethnic Food Products for her packaging assistance. The team visited her, finding out that it is not advisable to process food at home. They said that they can help her if she will build a separate processing area. With that troubling her nights, again, the MMSU Extension Directorate came to her assistance through the MMSU Rimat ti Ilocandia Program sharing about the Commission on Higher Education’s  Technology Commercialization (CHED-TECHOM) Program of the College of Agriculture Food and Sustainable Development (CAFSD) that assists unemployed Agriculture graduates. She asked for their assistance and borrowed an amount of Php 11,000 with the fear of being unable to repay this on time. Because the amount is insufficient for a building, they told her to pay the amount as soon as possible and they will lend a greater amount. She paid her loan before maturity and again borrowed Php 50,000 that served as her capital for the building, measuring 4×5 square meter. Through God’s provision, she was able to pay her loan.  Since she was able to build the trust of MMSU to her, she was able to borrow twice from the CHED-TECHOM Project.

Through the DOST project, she was granted a slicer while she spent Php 200,000 for a stainless table, plastic packages and sealer. She was able to endure and pay her loan through the help of the Almighty Creator. Her husband, her mother, and her only child, Lucky Theo, served as her inspiration in her persevering and stepping towards her dreams. From one helper she hired before, now gained 7 counterparts—each designated with a specific work. She also bought a van for her deliveries as the tricycle is unable to reach their neighboring provinces.

Through the help of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and MMSU, she participated in trade fairs in La Union, Vigan, and Laoag where she was able to get customers she is currently supplying. In addition, with the frequent publication of her products in Bannawag, her customers increased.  The 4×5 m processing area doubled in size with the addition of the chicharon processing building. Her business has also become a tourist attraction that local and foreign tourists visit. Eventually, she asked her husband to quit his job to help her manage their business. Ms. Soriano believes that she with the employees should continue riding to every opportunity to learn and improve.

On May 30, 2017, two of its employees attended the Good Manufacturing Practices. A practice for proper food handling and storage conducted by the Negosyo Center Banna. Ms. Soriano also enrolled herself in the Kapatid Mentor Me Program Run 1 and graduated last November 17, 2017. Through the KMME Program, she learned a lot through her mentors and classmates. One of these is how to properly designate its employees to be more productive. She was also able to identify the financial errands of the business that needs to avoid. Most importantly, she was able to build connections with other businesses. Ms. Soriano even testified and shared the fruits she harvested as a graduate of the said program during the KMME Run 2 and 3 Launching last April 20, 2018. In fact, the business is one of the members of the Partuat ti Kailokoan Cooperative established late last year formed by the KMME graduates in Ilocos Norte.

Sharing a gift is planting a seed of change to the community. With the growing business of the family, she was able to encourage her neighbors in planting banana, camote, and corn with her as the buyer. Observing the transformation in Suerte’s family, many were motivated to do something to end their poverty as well. With Suerte’s perseverance ample with her family’s cooperation. The business expanded to produce their own products such as Banana Chips, Camote Chips, Taro Chips, polvoron, Adobong Mais, Sweet Peanut, Chicharon, Turones de Mani, Spicy Sukang Iloko, and Potato chips when potatoes are cheap. From their ventures in their neighborhood, transactions grew to as far as Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Manila, and even abroad. Suerte’s products suit the tourist’s palates. And to share more to the community the blessings they are receiving, the family conducts a feeding program thrice a year in Quiaoit Elementary School.

Hardwork, patience, trust in each other, and being a wise spender—according to her, are the qualities that an entrepreneur should possess.

Living the words of Sun Yat-sen, “The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance”, Suerte’s story is a mirror of how love for learning and trusting in God has shown a multitude of ways in meeting one’s need. Success starts with a dream.

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