Bottled bangus firm builds own ‘aquarium’ | Inquirer Business
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Bottled bangus firm builds own ‘aquarium’

Pioneering business helps send kids to school and boosts aquaculture
/ 12:21 AM November 11, 2015

DAGUPAN CITY—Twice a week, businesswoman Marijoy Novales Rosario visits the fish market here to buy 80 kilograms of bangus (milkfish). She makes sure she gets the best, freshest fish by inspecting its gills, scales, sizes and shapes.

In her kitchen in Barangay Tapuac here, Rosario cleans them, chopping off the head, fins, tail and belly flaps and removing the internal organs. Then she carefully slices each one of them into sizes that would fit in a small glass jar.

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After another rinse, the bangus cuts are dipped in boiling oil. She then inserts slices into the jars and adds the rest of the ingredients.

Rosario has been bottling bangus since 2008. It started as a fundraising project for the scholarship program of the Dagupan City Host Lions Club, of which she and her husband Westly Rosario, were officers.

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“Westly wanted more students to study fisheries at the Pangasinan State University (PSU),” Rosario says.

After going through a seminar at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center here, of which her husband is chief, the bottled bangus project began.

Rosario says their first products were sold to her friends and friends of their group’s members. The proceeds were enough to send two scholars to the PSU College of Fisheries the following school year.

Being the only bottled bangus produced in the city at that time, it became a hit, especially among those who go abroad.

Rosario says city tourism officer Rose Mary Teng Mejia introduced the product in tourism-related events around the country.

Mejia says she also presented the product to then Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin Lim, who had it immediately displayed and sold in his grocery chain in Pangasinan.

Today, Rosario makes at least 300 bottles of bangus every week and Lions Club now has 12 PSU scholars.

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While the first bottled bangus was made in the BFAR laboratory, Rosario is now making them in a room she had built at the back of the family house.

She had registered the brand name as “Bonuan Bangus,” referring to the first name of three villages known for growing the best bangus.

She also produces four variants of the product—in olive oil, in corn oil, in tomato sauce and adobo, priced at P95 a bottle, except for the olive oil variant, which sells for P130.

Under the brand “Bonuan’s Best,” she also makes other products such as tuyo (dried fish) gourmet, smoked oysters in corn oil, mussels in corn oil, bagoong (salted fish paste), vinegar and salt packed in a small earthen jar.

Her products are sold in the city’s popular restaurants, such as Pedrito’s, Matutina’s, Panaderia Antonio, Jeck’s, De Luxe and Rubi’s, among others.

Last year, Rosario opened “Aquarium,” her own store built in front of her house, which is along the main thoroughfare Dagupan-Lingayen Road.

She said it was a brainchild of her children Monica, Miguel and Margarita.

“We deliver our products to other stores but we don’t have our own . So we thought of having this and sell other Pangasinan products as well,” says Miguel.

Among the other products on display are peanut brittle, “chichacorn” and honey.

“When customers drop by, we don’t forget to offer our salt sa banga (earthen jar). It’s a good gift for house warming events, especially because Filipinos believe that a jar full of salt brings luck and prosperity to homes,” said Miguel.

Rosario says, in the future, she wants her store to be a one-stop shop for all Pangasinan products.

“Some customers were looking for handicrafts, that’s why I will have to talk to handicraft makers in San Carlos City and other places later,” Rosario says.

She also says that she is now looking at the export market.

“Somebody offered to sell my products abroad. But I’m still waiting because I don’t have papers yet to be able to export. But maybe, I can also do it,” she adds.

“It will be a lot of work for me at this point, so maybe my children will be the ones to do it,” Rosario says.

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TAGS: Bangus, Barangay Tapuac, Dagupan City Host Lions Club, Marijoy Novales Rosario, Pangasinan State University, Westly Rosario
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