Teddy Sarmiento inspires us with his rags-to-riches story that led him in the siopao industry.
Information Pieces and Video By MyPuhanan
They may have been so poor as to eat field mice for lunch most days when they were young, but they would never put cat meat in their steamed buns to cut costs, a local siopao magnate said.
As far as he knows, the rumours that steamed buns were made with cat meat started in Manila, Terza Siopao Factory founder Teddy Sarmiento told ABS-CBN’s “My Puhunan.” However, he assured the public that they use only pork to fill buns at his family’s factories in Marikina.
Sarmiento has gone a long way from catching mice in his family’s rice field in Victoria, Tarlac—he now owns a rest house there complete with a bonsai garden and swimming pool, thanks to his earnings from producing and selling steamed buns.
Before becoming successful, however, he and his family had to go through hardships.
At 19 years of age, Sarmiento had to leave Tarlac to get a job in Manila to support his family. Luckily, he got a job at a siopao cookery with a kind-hearted boss.
“Namasukan ako sa siopaoan ng halos 5 taon [bago ko] naisipang magsarili…nagsikap ako magmasa, magluto, maglagay ng palaman,” he said.
He eventually got the idea to start his own business because of an inspiring message from his “master”.
“Nagkaroon ako ng idea, iyong master namin, sabi nya, mga bata pa kayo. Pagbutihin niyo trabaho niyo, magpakasipag kayo, malayo pa mararating ninyo. Iyon ang pumasok sa isip ko, parang, ‘Oo nga ano, kailangan maging masipag,’ kaya tiyaga talaga,” he said.
Aside from hard work, Sarmiento said that prayer helped him a lot, especially when it was time to risk all his family had to start a business.
“Sinangla namin ang lupa [namin sa Tarlac] ng P40,000, medyo kinapos ng konti. May 2 kalabaw, ang bisero, binenta namin ng P6,000,” he said.
With P46,000 in his pocket, he bought a dough roller, freezer, and cooking implements such as a steamer, gas range, and pots.
From making about 100 steamed buns a day, his factory now produces over 1,000, sold at P14 each, he said. It was a family effort—while he took charge of everything, his siblings helped find customers in Manila.
“Unang mga customer namin, mga East Ave. Medical Center, BIR, Lung Center, magkakatabi po iyon,” Sarmiento said.
His business eventually grew to the point that his siblings were also inspired to put up their own siopao shops in Marikina—Siopao Factory ng Bayan, Big Z Siopao Factory, The Original Patrick and Lhen Siopao Factory, and D’Original E.M.M. Siopao Factory.
However, the Sarmiento family never forgot their roots. Aside from building a house for their mother where their old “bahay kubo” used to stand, they helped fund repairs for their barangay’s parish church in Tarlac.
Their advice for budding entrepreneurs? According to Loida Sarmiento, the owner of Siopao Factory ng Bayan, the key to success is determination, hard work and perseverance.
“At higit sa lahat, unahin ang Diyos,” she said.
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