On Barangay Bagua here every afternoon from Monday to Saturday – a small “turon” (deep-fried banana rolls) roadside store draws people even during this time of the pandemic.
The store, owned by Oscar Alojado Buenafe, 74, has no signboard but residents here sure know how to follow with their nose the smell of the reasonably priced, sweet, crunchy, spring roll-wrapped “turon” with ripe strips of “saba” and “langka” (jackfruit) inside.
Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily, various kinds of vehicles and people from all walks of life toe the line for social distancing to wait for their turn to buy and munch on the affordable snack treats from the Buenafe store along the Bagua area here.
The store serves more than a hundred customers daily, depending on the availability of the snack food items.
“We also sell pinaypay na saging (banana fan fritters), saging rebosao (caramelized banana strips), and sweet potato fritters,” Buenafe said in the vernacular.
He said they have not changed the price of their food bestsellers during the past four decades except during this time of the pandemic that began last March.
“Marketing for ingredients became harder to find due to strict coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) lockdowns and we have to adjust,” he said.
For one, he said, their “turon” is currently priced at PHP7 per piece, a PHP2 increase from their usual price per piece for the past 10 years.
“Despite this, our ‘suki’ (regular customers) kept on coming back, without even minding the slight increase in prices,” Buenafe said with a smile.
Through the years, he said he had befriended all his loyal customers, ranging from doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, and even military and police personnel.
“They frequent our store, or even sending someone by placing their orders in advance,” he said with delight.
Benefits of the business
For the past four decades, Buenafe said he and his wife Editha have managed to send his children to school, two of them became teachers while the others too became professionals in their preferred fields of work.
He said one of his children died but did not expound on the matter after becoming emotional during the conversation.
“Life must go on. I have other children to attend to and grandchildren,” Buenafe said.
Anna Leah Mosina, 19, said she likes to buy “turon” and other food items at Buenafe’s store because it is served hot and smells delicious.
“It is one of my cheap treats daily,” Mosina said.
Gerome Uy, 26, a trader from nearby Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, said the “turon” has gained popularity in his set of friends through the years.
“Elementary pa lang po kami suki na kami ng turon na yan (We have been regular customers of that ‘turon’ even during our elementary days),” Uy said.
Sustaining the business
Even amid the pandemic, Buenafe said his store keeps on doing good in sales because his products are cheap and done to the preferred taste of its customers.
He noted that their “turon” is quite easy to cook and that the ingredients are inexpensive.
“You can buy the ingredients at the market, like brown sugar and coconut oil, but do remember that you should always cook with love,” Buenafe said.
He pointed out that their love and care for their customers had been there through all these years. (PNA)