Eng Bee Tin owner does not believe in lucky charms

Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2014 - 12:30am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino-Chinese businessman Gerry Chua, who is behind the successful Binondo-based deli Eng Bee Tin, does not believe in lucky charms.

Chua neither believes that the Chinese have an exceptional prowess for doing business.

"Para sa 'kin ang lucky charm ko ay ang sarili ko at ang pamilya ko. Sarili talaga. Kahit Pilipino ka o Amerikano ka, talagang sipag at tiyaga at saka yung faith kay God," Chua told Philstar.com.

"Pero faith sa Diyos ang pinaka-importante," he added, calling attention to his store's proximity to the Binondo Church.

As a young man in the 1980s, Chua lifted his family's crumbling bakery business,which opened in 1912, from the brink of bankruptcy by focusing on its main product.

"Nalulugi siya e. Kaya nagkarooon kami ng financial problem. Araw-araw naba-bounce yung tseke namin. [Ang] dami naming utang," he recounted.

"Yung hopia namin hindi mabili kasi dati matigas. Pag initsa mo, pagbagsak, hopia parin," Chua recalled then raised his arm to show small burns he acquired from improving the bean-filled pastry. "Ayan, puro paso o."

Chua went on to invent Eng Bee Tin's now famous Ube Hopia and saw the company grow in numbers, branches and floor area, with the main branch in Binondo tripling in size.

"Dati 'yan, nandyan lang tindahan namin. Ngayon, nakuha na namin ng buo. At least kung masipag tayo, matiyaga, may good na result," he said.

Chua, who is now gradually passing the business to his sons Geric and Gerard, is engaged in several other Binondo-based businesses such as fast-food houses Chuan Kee and Mr. Ube.

The father of ube hopia is also neither running out of ideas nor averse to risks.

After putting out what is believed to be the world's largest mooncake in late 2013, Chua opened 2014 by creating the country's largest tikoy, the Chinese cake made from glutinous rice.

"Siguro next year ia-apply namin 'to sa Guinness," he said.

Giving back

Having lived and grown his business in Binondo, Chua, even in the early years of the Chinese deli, jumped at every opportunity to aid the community.

Chua, who also founded volunteer firefighting unit Txtfire, confessed that he still hopes that the Eng Bee Tin brand would be used to lift others' lives.

"Gusto ko sanang mag-franchise ... Kahit maliit na maliit lang ang amount ng (isang) franchise, basta makatulong," he said.

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