Happy Ongpauco-Tiu: My goal is to bring ‘Happy Vibes’ to the homes of other people through food
Happy food from Miss Happy
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2020 - 12:00am

While all her 14 restaurants (in Metro Manila, Boracay and Tagaytay) have been closed since last March 15, the extended lockdown hasn’t rendered Happy Ongpauco-Tiu lolling at home with her husband Dexter and children Renzo (16), Franchesco (8), Niccolo (7) and Matteo (2). She’s as busy as ever at her kitchen cooking what she described as “quarantine food” not only for family consumption but to share her recipes with other home-quarantined families via her show What Makes Me Happy on CNN Philippines on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., with replays Sunday at 6 a.m. and Monday at 8 a.m.

“My goal is to bring ‘Happy Vibes’ to other people’s homes through food,” Happy told The STAR in a phone interview. “In this challenging time, eating healthy, delicious and affordable food is one of the essentials to be able to cope with this crisis. I want to teach the viewers how to prepare yummy and nutritious dishes that use ingredients readily available in markets and groceries.”

The 20-minute educational-instructive show premiered Saturday (May 9) last week with Happy preparing Inihaw na Ginataang Tilapia and Ensaladang Talong. In tomorrow’s episode, she will prepare Adobo Flakes Paella, Lumpiang Hubad and Puto. Fed up with sardines? Happy will show you recipes using sardines (in cans) served gourmet style.

With her staff moonlighting as camera crew, Happy video-tapes her show at her well-equipped kitchen, dressed as she would if filming in a studio, and the raw tapes are then edited by the CNN Philippines guys.

Intended for 10 episodes (may be extended by popular demand), the show will feature more recipes: Cebu Style Lechon Manok, homemade Empanadas (using leftover dishes) and, according to Happy, “even my version of our family-legacy recipes like Kare-Kare and the famous Crispy Pata invented by my dad (Rod Ongpauco).” In fact, added Happy, people can learn easy-to-prepare recipes and sell from their homes such as basic Tocino, Tapa and Longganisa without preservatives.

At home, Happy prepares what she described as “four-colored” dishes for her family, complete with supply of protein, carbs and other nutrients (aside from regular vitamins). Brown rice is the staple but Happy sometimes mixes it with white rice because the kids are not used to eating purely-brown rice.

“Sodas are bawal at our home, so drinks are either freshly-squeezed orange juice or calamansi/dalandan juice,” disclosed Happy.                                                                      

Like other business people, Happy is, well, not happy with the post-COVID-19 prospects.

“This crisis will not be over until a vaccine is created,” admitted Happy. “Kung magtatagal pa ito, I will have to close some of my restaurants, ‘yung medyo mahihina, and I will retain only ‘yung malalakas. Ang kalaban ng business is the high rentals, especially now that no profit is coming in. Like everybody else, I have to choose my battles.”


Aware that her clients (especially those in the Pamana branches) are craving favorites, Happy has opened a delivery service. (Call 0922-8592707/0915-4505628; or go to @happyconceptgroup.com.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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