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From 25-k capital to One Million savings: a bam-i house story

Cebu City, Philippines. For Jerry Gloria, 63, it all started nine (9) years ago when she decided to take a chance at a free skills training that she heard about on the radio.

Little did she know that her initiative would blossom into and take her to the successful food business that she is now running or that she’d be able to pool resources and save enough to upgrade their once small store – the mere first floor of an old house – into a three-storey building.

When Gloria first attended the skills training initiated by the University of San Carlos-Kapamilya Negosyo Na (USC-KNN, Inc.), she immediately thought of focusing on a handicrafts-related business as she used to have a fashion accessories store. USC-KNN, a cooperative, is one of the accredited co-partners (ACP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the implementation of its livelihood program.

After giving it much thought, somehow, it dawned on her that a food-related business is more lucrative than other business ventures. Luckily, she was chosen as one of the livelihood beneficiaries of USC-KNN when the DOLE released financial assistance to its members.

With a grant of only PHP25,000.00 as initial capital, Gloria transformed the ground floor of one of their houses in Mabolo, Cebu City into a takeout restaurant. Since she had no culinary background and only previously sold fashion accessories, she first started with the only dish she was adamantly confident with –bam-i.

Bam-i or pancit Bisaya, is a stir-fried Filipino noodle dish that originated in Central Visayas, specifically Cebu. It consists of two types of noodles, which is pancit canton and sotanghon. Giving the dish an extraordinary blend of texture and flavor, added Gloria, are other ingredients such as meat (bits of pork and pig liver), poultry (shredded chicken breast), seafood (shrimp and squid), vegetables, and herbs, among others.

In 2010, “Mabolo Bam-i House” was born.

Sa first naku nga months, minus gyud ko ug sales. In fact, madaot gani ang akong mga vegetables, pero kung consistent lang ka nga mupadayon sa imung product unya mo-tuo ka sa imung product nga lami gyud, you can succeed (I only had little profit during the first few months of operating the business. There were even times when the vegetables and other ingredients I bought were left spoiled, however, when you persevere and when you firmly believe in your product, you could succeed),” said Gloria.

She pointed out how instrumental the DOLE was in her start-up business and how dedicated she became especially in utilizing the financial aid she received properly.

The PHP25,000.00 capital she made do with initially opened up a big opportunity in the food business and after nine (9) years of hard work and dedication, Gloria, once quite uncertain of what the future holds for her Bam-i House, now has more than One Million Pesos in savings.

“Dako gyud kayo ug natabang naku ang DOLE pinaagi sa capital nga gihatag ngari naku. Still, I believe it’s not enough nga hatagan lang ka ug kwarta and tagaan ug financial support. Kung wala sadka maningkamot, it will all go to waste (The DOLE helped me a lot by providing me financial support. Still, I believe, it’s not enough that you are given the capital you needed. When you won’t work hard and do your best, it will all go to waste),” the mother of three (3) added.

Once her business started hitting off, Gloria took some culinary classes, which she believed would help expand her knowledge and skills in cooking.

Apart from bam-i, Mabolo Bam-i House now offers a wide array of other best-selling Filipino dishes including fresh lumpia, lumpia shanghia, empanada, lechon kawali, roasted chicken, and chicken lollipop, among others. Newly added to their menu are pastries and cookies with Gloria still looking forward to expanding the products they’d offer.

To serve and accommodate more customers, they’re set to construct a new building in January next year that would house their newest store. “I also hope to open two more branches that will cater not only to Cebuanos but also to anyone who happens to explore the Northern and Southern parts of Cebu,” she added.

She was also pleased to share that Mabolo Bam-i House was awarded Q Asia’s National Product Quality Excellence Award, a recognition given to companies, products and services that have achieved product quality excellence. The awarding ceremony, she continued, would be held in Manila next month.

Gloria recalled relying on “free tasting” as the only marketing strategy she thought would help promote her products when she was starting. Now, they already maintain a Facebook page where they accept orders from customers. They also deliver products through an application-based motorcycle delivery service.

“Before, ako’y mag-deliver, ako tanan, ako magluto, ako’y mangompra. I had no helper during that time except akong family. Kami ra gyud (Before, I deliver, I cook, I buy the ingredients. I basically did everything. I had no other help except my family),” she said.

Now, her business started generating employment especially when she began hiring help after their third year of operating the business. However, Gloria still does the cooking of every single dish they offer.

The secret to her success, she shared, is unwavering determination, giving priority to customers and the business, and consistency in the taste and quality of her products.

Gloria is just one of the many successful beneficiaries of DOLE under its Livelihood or Kabuhayan Program - one of the two (2) major components of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs (DILEEP).

The DILEEP, according to DOLE-7 Regional Director Salome O. Siaton, prioritizes workers, who are marginalized, vulnerable, disadvantaged and susceptible to risks.

“It’s a joy to see people, whose lives have changed for the better because of the assistance granted to them by the DOLE. I’m personally very happy knowing that our beneficiaries utilize and put to good use whatever assistance they received from government through the Department,” said the DOLE-7 Head.

She added that effort must come from both sides. The DOLE provides assistance but beneficiaries must also be able to make use of it wisely and ensure that their alternative business undertakings will last and become sustainable, eventually.

Assistant Regional Director Lilia A. Estillore congratulated Gloria on her achievement.

“Gloria is an inspiration to all of us. She is testament of how a business venture, no matter how simple and small it is at the start, could possibly expand and become big-time. I wish her well on the construction of her new store. I hope that more DOLE beneficiaries will reap the fruits of their labor, like Gloria did,” Director Estillore finally quipped.


End//LSenarlo-Taniza with reporting from Antoinette O. Marquito


For more information on this report, you may contact Luchel SenarloTaniza, Regional Labor Communication Officer at telefax number (032) 266-2792 or you may send an email at


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