Proudly Filipino made

- Estela Banzon-De La Paz () - April 3, 2006 - 12:00am
While the Thais, Indians, and Singaporeans have made their mark in bringing their culinary taste to the international market through different prepared food and spices, Mama Sita’s mixes and sauces may yet be the country’s bet to being the brand of choice worldwide.

"We want Philippine products to be recognized as a household brand like Campbell soups or Nestle in the near future," said Ramon Reyes, corporate services officer of Marigold Commodities Corp. (MCC).

Marigold Commodities Corp. is the corporate vehicle for Mama Sita’s mixes and sauces. It was established in 1980 as a small cottage industry to make Mama Sita’s products at the ancestral house of the Reyeses in San Juan, Manila. Today, Mama Sita’s mixes and sauces are produced in a state-of-the-art facility in Pasig City.

Ramon Reyes, son of Teresita "Mama Sita" Reyes and grandson of Dona Engracia "Aling Asian" Reyes, founder of Aristocrat and Grand Matriarch of Philippine restaurateurs, says the legacy of his mother and grandmother still thrives in their generation.

The passion for good food and discriminating taste have been passed on from generation to generation. In fact, the Reyes clan holds a "get together lunch" almost every Sunday at their ancestral house in San Juan.

According to Reyes, this is the time not only to savor the good food they have known for generations but also the time to taste the latest mixes and sauces developed at their Pasig facility.

"It is amazing that almost everybody either approves or disapproves of the latest mixes and sauces that our food technicians and staff have developed at Marigold. If we approve of it, it goes to the market, if not, it goes back for further improvements," Reyes said.

He noted that unlike other mixes and sauces, Mama Sita’s products are all natural and do not use artificial ingredients. They only use natural ingredients like guavas, sampaloc for their sinigang mix.

So far, Mama Sita’s best selling products are the kaldereta mix, oyster sauce, sinigang sa bayabas (which is hard to copy because there is no artificial substitute for it); and palabok sauce, a real hit for Filipinos living abroad.

Mama Sita’s policy to use only natural ingredients has also led to helping small agro-industrial business in the countryside. MCC through its Mama Sita Foundation assists farmers in planting crops that can be dried and processed. Thus, the abundant produce of the season like chilis, tomatoes, onions are not wasted and instead can be sold to companies like MCC.

"Today, Mama Sita’s products can be found anywhere in the world where there is a Filipino as far as Cape Town, South Africa to the Middle East, Australasia, US, Canada and Europe, there will always be a Mama Sita to give them a taste of being at home," Reyes said.

Yet, more than this, Reyes is hopeful that aside from Filipinos, foreigners can acquire the taste and appreciate Filipino cuisine. After all, he noted that not only do the products taste good, it has passed international food standards wherever these are exported.

With this, Mama Sita’s products may well be the much-needed breakthrough that the country needs to make Filipino food products as one of the world’s best.
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