Freeman Cebu Business

Sugbo Sarsa coming up!

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces - The Freeman

There’s a new entrant in the sauce business now in Cebu. Small, homegrown, and still revving. Sugbo Sarsa is inspired by the passion of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to move the economy and bring back the flavor of business.

Sugbo Sarsa is the brainchild of Lora Gonzaga Ebalca and her business partner AJ Tuviera Tolentino. Lora who masters the sauce kitchen started her adventure with sauces when she noted that food can be perked up with flavor if you have the right sauce that would wake it up. 

“I want to make sauces that can be part of every household. Like the patis, toyo and suka!” (fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegar) Lora, said. “I also want a brand that we Cebuanos can be proud of that is why I placed my sauces under SUGBO SARSA.” (Sauce of Cebu), she continued.

Lora picked up her flavors from her years of working in Dubai. She worked for 10 years in a hotel in Dubai, starting as a waitress then moved on as a receptionist until she became assistant manager in no time. Even with her background in computer science, Lora enjoyed watching the preparation of food in the kitchen and would try her hand at doing her own cooking.

Raised by her entrepreneur mother who had a small eatery in Mandaue City Market, Lora was exposed to how a food business was run. After two stints in Dubai, Lora decided to stay in Cebu to start her own enterprise.

“I went abroad to help my family after a fire tragically hit our home in Mantoyong for the second time. The first time we lost our home was when I was still in elementary but we were able to slowly recover then this time, was more difficult. The job I applied for was in a hotel however, when we reached Dubai we found out we were just part of a catering business so after one year, I came back to Cebu, hardly able to save for my family. So I decided to try my luck again and left for the second time. This time I had a better employer.

After her second trip abroad, Lora decided to stay in Mandaue so she could help her mother who lost her business when the Mandaue market caught fire.

Trying to keep her spirits high, after these misfortunes, she opened the carenderia (small eatery) in Guizo. She hired her mother and some other relatives. Her business went well. And just as she was about to get comfortable, the earthquake that gravely hit the island of Bohol and Cebu occurred which damaged the structure of their store. 

This disaster forced Lora to return to Mantoyong to start their business again. When the pandemic struck, the business could hardly make enough so Lora decided to let it go and instead moved to selling packed meals online. Undaunted by the many trials that came her way, Lora took every hindrance as a challenge, trusting that she was wrought to overcome all the hurdles.  Unfazed, Lora knew there will always be another opportunity that will come before her. 

When the Sugbo Negosyo program was opened by Governor Gwen, it was like a light in a dark tunnel. “I got inspired to pursue my sauce business. I can do this online so even without an outlet yet, I can already sell my products.” Lora related. “I gave it the name of Sugbo Sarsa because I want Gov. Gwen to know how grateful I am of this chance.”

It is Lora’s dream to sell her products on the shelves of grocery stores and to open her own outlet soon should things stabilize with the opening of the economy. 

“Cebuanos have many good dishes. And I would like to be part of those dishes. My sauces go well with the different viands. Each one has a story of its own, and I love preparing them.”

Lora shared that in her preparations, she would think of her experiences and the kitchens she has worked in, in Dubai. “I actually wanted to just make a nasi goreng, when I came home and could not find Szechuan Sauce on the racks so I decided to make my own. Since then I have been making it and selling it to my friends and contacts through the pandemic. I am also glad that my friend AJ  has partnered with me in this new venture.”

Lora also prepares other sauces like the siomai sauce, sweet chili sauce, chili garlic, sweet soy sauce, and her leading product, the Szechuan sauce, all for the gourmet experience.

While waiting for the Cebuano taste buds to make this a staple in their home, Lora continues to develop other sauce products that will ease home cooking requirements by having a sauce at hand. 

Lora’s products are available online through the sugbosarsa on facebook. And she can also be reached through her phone at 09155426762.

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