by: AACope|2021

Noemi Bolanga came from a family of food lovers and with a passion for cooking. She and her siblings inherited their cooking skills from her mother. She loves to explore and experiment in cooking. Thus, she continued her degree in Food Technology at Bicol College of Arts and Trade.

When her elder sister Arlene graduated, they tried to offer cooking services on some occasions such as weddings and birthday parties. They cook food by rendering cooking service only as their investment. Later, as they continued this, they realized that they can offer not just cooking service. Thus, they invested in the capitalization of ingredients of the foods that they are about to be catered to. Her elder sister Arlene was hired for the applied job and could not accompany her anymore in the business. Thus, Noemi solely managed the business.

In 2002, she was given an opportunity by the Local Government of San Fernando to help the Women’s Organization through a livelihood program. The members of the women’s organization became resellers of her processed meat products such as tocino, longganisa, embutido and lumpiang shanghai. Due to high demand, she hired her fellow residents in the barangay to do the packaging. More women of San Fernando benefited from the said program. But it was stopped in 2006 when the term of their municipal mayor ended.

Noemi was hired as Head Chef in LRV Agri-Science Farm, owned by 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund R. Villafuerte in Brgy. San Bernardino, where she cooks and trains future chefs. While working, she continued her business with an initial capital of five thousand pesos (Php 5, 000.00). Due to a hectic schedule, in able to formalize her business and to acquire a legal identity, she asked permission from her brother to register her catering business. Thus, the name of her business is under her brother’s name – JMH INOCENCIO CATERING SERVICES.

She catered events such as weddings, birthdays, and Christmas Parties. When her business grew, she decided to join government bidding as a service provider of the government. She registered her business at PhilGEPS. She is currently catering seminars, training, and other activities of the various government agencies. Aside from that, she is also accepting reservations for big events. Among her specialties are baby back ribs, cordon bleu, laing, carbonara, penne, and steak ala pobre.

In 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic affected the nation including the Bicol Region, Noeme resigned from her job and focused on her business. Even in a pandemic situation, her business is continuously operating. She focused on her business because her workers are depending on it. There are more recipes or menus to be added, or other alternative businesses in relation to her current catering business such as food production or made-to-order foods for small events because she doesn’t want to compete with other food microentrepreneurs. Thus, she focused catering to big events and returned her meat processing business as an alternative income-generating source. She is also active online through her Facebook page to accept reservations.

Noemi wants to expand her business not just for self-interest because she wants to share her cooking skills with the potential and future chefs and to help her fellow constituents in San Fernando.