Native delicacy boosts income of small vendors in PangasinanBy Gabriel Cardiñoza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
VILLASIS, Pangasinan—On a good day, Leticia Flores sells at least 700 pieces of tupig (grilled powdered glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves) from her stall near the town hall here.
At P5 apiece, that’s at least P3,500—more than enough for her to pay for the ingredients she needs every day to keep her small business going.
“This is really a big help for my family,” says Flores, who has been selling tupig for 10 years.
“This [business] has taught us to live; it fed our families and sent our kids to school,” adds Elvira Ordoñez, 48, who started selling tupig when she was 16.
Their work begins at night when they mix by hand powdered glutinous rice, sugar, grated coconut, coconut milk and margarine in a large basin. They wrap the mixture in banana leaves and bring it to their stalls for grilling and selling.
“We just have to be very patient,” says Ordoñez.
Flores says their product must be better than the tupig being sold in other Pangasinan towns to win the loyalty of customers.
“Our customers come to us. We do not have to run and chase passenger buses just to sell tupig,” she explains.
Flores says Anjo Farms, an exporter of Pangasinan food products based in San Fabian town, often orders tupig from her for export.
“Of course, balikbayans here also order from us before they return to wherever they came from,” Ordoñez says.
Flores says the stalls provided to them by the town government were a big help because they made them more visible to potential buyers.
Mayor Libradita Abrenica says the “tupig lane,” which consists of 15 stalls, was established in 2005 during the term of former Mayor Nonato Abrenica, her husband.
“We gave them space where commuters and passersby can easily see them,” Abrenica says. “When they were inside the public market, they only sold until 10 a.m. When we placed them here, their income increased because they can now sell all day,” she says.
Abrenica says it also helps that tupig made in this town tastes better than those from other towns which are harder, smaller and wrapped in thick banana leaves. Thus buyers looking for the best tupig come to Villasis.
The town government also taught tupig makers and vendors how to make their products presentable so that they can command a better price. This is why tupig makers can sell their products at P100 a box with 20 pieces.
“As it is, it’s already good. But we are encouraging them to further improve their packaging,” says Abrenica.
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