Home is where the hope is

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Home is where the hope is
Annie Lim Kawpeng’s home made mango ice cream and frozen yoghurt. (To reach Peppermoon Farm, go to @peppermoonfarm on Instagram.)

The happiest place on earth, and the happiest fairy tales on earth, were born during the saddest of times: the worst financial crisis in the history of the world, the 1929 Great Depression. According to online sources, brothers Walt and Roy Disney, through Walt Disney Productions, created cartoons to bring “happiness to those suffering from the economic crisis.”

“The company confirmed its place in the people’s lives as an outlet from the struggles they were facing,” said businessleader.co.uk.


COVID-19 has wrought untold sadness, setbacks and suffering to millions around the world. And yet, there are millions who refused and continue to refuse to be vanquished by the pandemic. They continue to hope, and their hope springs from their home.

By embarking on homespun businesses, particularly businesses that sell desserts (as they say dessert is stressed spelled backwards), and savory food (as the importance of healthy food during the health crisis cannot be underestimated), many women have not only augmented their incomes, they have also found a therapy for anxious days and nights.


A priest calls her “Rambo” because whenever and wherever there’s a humanitarian crisis, Annie Lim Kawpeng surges toward Ground Zero. She was in Batangas during the debilitating ash fall, and she was providing meals for frontliners during the COVID outbreak in Metro Manila. After things settled down after the first spike in COVID cases, Annie found herself with free time on her hands — which she dislikes. She looked around her kitchen and she found a lot of unused gadgets, including one for making frozen yoghurt.

“I made original froyo (frozen yoghurt) for the kids and they said it was really good. I have all these commercial-quality gadgets at home but don’t really use them for business... so what if I tried to make use of them? Might as well start doing something profitable and which I enjoy making. I posted on our village Viber to try my mango froyo and on June 1, I sold my first six. Then two weeks later, I told my friends, too, about it and that was the start of really making more mango froyo and ice cream, too. In six weeks, I made over 200 tubs of ice cream and froyo,” says Annie, who, by the way, wears braces on her arms because of a spine problem, but still manages to be cool. She has decided to name her venture “Peppermoon Farm” after her farm. Yes, yes, yo!


Travel agency owner Gigibeth Santiago.

Gigibeth Santiago owns and runs a very successful travel agency, but the pandemic has clipped the industry’s wings for the time being.

“I had been a fighter throughout my life. While the pandemic caused my core travel agency business, Airspace Travel & Tours, to stop operations halting my biggest source of income, I could not just accept defeat,” she says.

So in May 2020,  she started an online business selling fresh fruits and vegetables from Divisoria but soon realized it would not be sustainable unless a good business strategy was put in place.

Gigibeth’s healthy wraps. (To reach Hive N’ Thrive, visit www.facebook.com/HiveNThrive.)

After consulting experts, she saw the need to offer target consumers, quality yet affordable food products to help them achieve good health with a menu consisting mainly of healthy beverages, tortilla wraps and sandwiches made up of quality ingredients.

Thus was born, “Hive N’ Thrive.”

“There is a subliminal message that envelops our brand, Hive N’ Thrive, that evokes the deep values of family, unity and resourcefulness,” says Gigibeth.


Joey Silvestre.(To reach The Drunk Baker, go to www.instagram.com/the.drunk.baker.)

Makati executive Joey Silvestre launched @The.Drunk.Baker on June 12, Independence Day. “The lockdown allowed me to reflect, reconnect with myself, and rediscover my long-time passion, which is baking. My family and I love sweets. I grew up in a household that was never without dessert.  Unlike other kids, we were never stopped from eating too much. In fact, as kids, my sisters and I were introduced to a lot of different desserts and delicacies from local provinces.“

Baking was her antidote to anxiety during the lockdown. “Being locked down was not an issue for an introvert like me but what kept me up at night, and pushed me to drink occasionally, was the uncertainty of almost everything. Friends were talking about struggles at work; the news was always about problems that seem to have no solution at hand.”

“This passion project has reminded me that yes, we can still make our own sunshine even on the darkest of days,” smiles Joey.


Karen Alparce Villanueva. (To reach The Nutty Baker, call 0917-8427094.)

Former pharmaceutical executive and Philhealth official Karen Alparce Villanueva started The Nutty Baker formally only last June 14.

“After several months of cooking and baking and giving them away to family and friends, I also finally had the time to compile and digitize my mom’s well-loved recipes so the generations after us may find good use of them.”

She was inspired to turn it into a business when she saw the post of Kythe Foundation executive director Girlie Lorenzo asking for donations for Hospital Safety Kits for the Kythe kids, mostly children with cancer.

“So I thought to myself, ‘Why not bake and donate the funds for the Kythe kids?’ Baking has helped me make good use of my time and energy. It is very tiring to run a food business and I’m just a newbie but it helped me be more customer-focused and well ‘domesticated.’ I feel happy when I have made family meals a little special. The family has pitched in to help me with the two pilots in the family ‘delivering’ the orders, my youngest daughter Bea doing the measuring and other odd jobs, and of course my ever reliable Manang Rosie doing all the backend kitchen work.” Now, The Nutty Baker accepts orders all over Metro Manila.

The lockdown has unlocked many talents in many of us. Most of the homegrown businesses started by the women in this feature have spread happiness, and happiness is infectious — and good for body and soul!

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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