THE “P” TALKS
BY: Pilar Mateo
WHETHER we like it or not, Christmas will be celebrated in every part of the globe. Pandemic or not.
For the Lord of Scents, Joel Cruz, he and his children are so looking forward to it.
“But this time will not be the same as the previous years. Kung lavish ang mga decorations that we put up, now diminished muna ‘yun. Minimal lang.
“Para nandun ang Christmas feels, gusto ng mga bata ang malamig, sa Baguio namin ito ii-spend. With the whole family. Nakikita niyo naman before, kung gaano kalaki o kataas ang Christmas trees we put up. Abot hanggang third floor. This time, simple lang. We cannot afford to have scaffoldings everywhere para maikabit ang mga decorations at marami ang gagawa noon.
“At the time of the pandemic, it made me realize a lot of things. Na, pwedeng mawala ang lahat ng pinaghirapan mo. Na hindi madali ang lahat.
“For a businessman like me, I am very thankful dahil kahit na marami’ng business na ang nagsasara, we are still afloat with Aficionado. Na nag-celebrate lang ng 20th Anniversary. We just needed to device a scheme na wala namang mawawalan ng trabaho, magbabawas lang sa schedules.
“Then, nitong pandemic nga, nagisip pa kami ng iba pang business na pwede pa ring makatulong sa mga tao. Hindi nawawala ang food business. Online karamihan. So, nag-search kami. Nung malinis at affordable. Kaya milk tea. At Japanese treats. Na pwede ring ma-franchise. At mabilis na kikita o babalik ang P188K na ilalabas to get a franchise. At good for one year na.
“First thing we did was to seek the help of a Japanese chef na alam ‘yung recipes ng takoyaki, then paggawa ng milk tea. Na pwede mo ngang gawin kahit sa bahay mo lang. Kaya TAKOYATEA (at the corner of Sisa and Retiro streets in Sampaloc, Manila) was born.
“Hindi naman din kasi ako tumitigil to make good with what we share with the consumers. Kaya nung maglabas din ng ethyl alcohol and sanitizer ang Aficionado, we made sure na talagang 70% alcohol siya. At lahat ISO certified, at pumasa sa FDA.
“Isang realization sa akin ‘yung we all have to be very careful now. In taking care of ourselves. Dati, hindi tayo marunong to do handwashing properly. But now, we make the extra effort. Para lang maging sure na tama at hindi maaapektuhan ang mga mahal natin sa buhay.
“Si Mama (Milagros), loves her Achara business. But I don’t make her do it everyday. Takot na rin siya maglalabas. May edad na at nagkasakit na. Kaya may certain number lang ng bottles na magagawa siya. Kasi, sold out lagi.”
Joel admitted that at the onset of the pandemic, he experienced some depression.
“Not just for me but for the people who work for me. May mga pamilya din sila. Kaya I have to take care of them. Yung sa planta araw-araw pumapasok. Yung dito, sa office and ibang branches hinahati ang mga araw. Pero they have food, lunch and merienda para hindi na sila lalabas. And there are vans o services to bring them home. Inayos ko na rin their 13th month. Kasi, alam naman natin na kailangan talaga ng kikitain.”
Joel’s good heart extended to his product endorsers. Some have pending renewal of their contracts, yet they are still getting their commissions from their endorsed products. Some contracts have been extended, too.
“Most have stayed with us for years already. Nagsilaki na ang mga bagets. Ang iba may pamilya na. Am just thankful sa pag-support pa rin nila sa mga produkto.”
It’s not just the sparkling lights of his and the family’s Christmas tree that will glow in the center of their home in Baguio, but the smiles in the eyes and faces of each of his staff who will be able to say that truly, their Christmas will be merry!
Thanks to a Boss like Joel Cruz! (30)