Latest Stories

Sweet Bella seeks guidance from Melo’s founder


CRISTINA Santiago-Rivera

Cristina Santiago-Rivera continues to create her own identity and live her dream.

The owner behind the patisserie Sweet Bella is now proudly welcoming guests in a second store in Greenbelt 5—less than two years after she opened her first store in Bonifacio Global City.

She admits however that opening a Sweet Bella branch in Makati was not part of the original plan as she was already set to open another store in Alabang.

But the offer to open a branch in Makati was difficult to turn down because it is a prime site for businesses and it is where most of her clients are.

BELLA—the inspiration

“We were already preparing for the opening of the [Alabang] branch when I got a call from Ayala offering me an area here in Greenbelt 5. I can’t go full blast opening two outlets at the same time,” Rivera reveals.

The dilemma led her to consult her dad, whose advice she values the most.

“My dad has been in the business for a long time already and he has already accomplished a lot.”

Rivera’s family owns the chain of Melo’s restaurants, famous for their steak selections. It was when she was working at Melo’s that she channeled her passion for sumptuous treats through Melo’s desserts selection.

“Although my Dad’s comments can sometimes be offending, they are all true and it sort of wakes you up. I really seek guidance from him,” Rivera adds.

“I told my Dad that there’s a space being offered to me, and he advised me to tell them that I was interested so that they would hold it for me. Then when he came back (from a US trip) we talked about it and he said ‘this is your area, this is your market,’” Rivera says.

As soon as she got her father’s nod, Rivera then proceeded with the task at hand.

Asked if she expected this kind of success that Sweet Bella is enjoying right now and the  praises that the store has been receiving, Rivera candidly says “no, not at all.”

THE NEW place in Greenbelt 5 serves appetizers to desserts.

She is set to open an outlet in Molito, Alabang.

“It’s always going to be a challenge, especially now that I have two stores to attend to, not to mention a third branch which we are opening in December,” she explains.

Rivera also believes that being focused, combined with hard work, will enable anyone to achieve his or her goal.

She is also thankful to have people around her who keeps her going.

“I’m actually blessed to have good people around me. They’re actually like angels who are trying to help me reach my goal. The feedback from the people that matter to you is what actually keeps you going. They are the people who allow you to do the things you love to do. True, there would be problems in the beginning, but you’ll overcome it through the help and praise that these people give you,” Rivera says.

Rivera hopes to make Sweet Bella a household name for desserts, eventually turning it into a full restaurant that serves delectable dishes from start to finish.

“For Burgos, it was just a cafe where only pizza and sandwiches are being served. But for these two other branches, a full restaurant menu is available,” she says, explaining that the outlets now offer full meals, ranging from appetizers to desserts.

Rivera discloses that with the two branches, they are hoping to capture the full restaurant experience for their clients. For the Makati branch, they see this as a perfect avenue to showcase the famous Melo’s steak since there is currently no Melo’s restaurant in the area.

“I want people to have a perfect dining experience, but the challenge really is how do you make people aware that apart from having the three best desserts we also have the best food selection from salad, soup, oysters and main course of wagyu steak, lamb and fish and the finest fine dining service,” she explains.

For three consecutive years now, Rivera’s cakes have been voted as the Inquirer’s Best Dessert.

Rivera says she is still far from attaining her ultimate goal.

“You see my one secret dream is to be able to open a store outside the country and to be known internationally.”

Indeed, with the success of Sweet Bella, Rivera is slowly establishing her own name, gaining the respect of people and, as an added perk, getting voted as having the best desserts in town.

“Everything that is happening right now is just unbelievable. I believe this is really God’s plan for me and I just have to remain focused and really work hard in maintaining the quality of my products and the service we provide. I am up for the challenge. I am a single mother and this is the best legacy I can leave for my one and only Bella.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bonifacio Global City , Cristina Santiago-Rivera

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Gloomy weather on Black Saturday–Pagasa
  • Mixed feelings for Gabriel Garcia Marquez in hometown
  • Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  • Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’–report
  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • Sports

  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Motivated LeBron James preps for postseason
  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Multicultural flock marks Good Friday in San Francisco
  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • Marketplace