Technology helps this 77-year-old bakery rise again




When the Department of Science and Technology approached him to offer assistance to modernize his 77-year-old Kamuning Bakery and Cafe, Wilson Lee Flores, businessman, college-teacher, writer, and history enthusiast, initially declined. He had low expectation when it comes to government service.

"Ang impression ko, mahirap ka deal ang gobyerno. Huwag na lang. Sakit ng ulo, maraming busisi. Parang allergic tayo (My impression is that it is hard to deal with the government. Don't bother. It will be just a headache, there are too much requirements. We're allergic)," he recounted his usual impression.

But when the National Capital Region office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-NCR) persistently convinced Flores that his bakery business is in need of a technology boost, he finally relented.

The takeover of Kamuning Bakery
The intervention was a result of a chance encounter with one of the children of the original owners of Kamuning Bakery, Atty. Leticia Bonifacio Javier and her husband Marcelo Javier, Sr. during Flores' business conference at the Asian Institute of Management. People from the audience approached him, knowing he's a real estate broker and they asked him to sell their properties like apartments and condominiums. There was one guy who approached him wanting to sell off the property of his parents in Kamuning. Flores said, he knows of an old bakery there, which he frequented in his college years. It turned out to be just the property that the son was talking about.

Since the bakery has been neglected, with the owner coming over just once a month, and few breads produced, the family decided to sell everything. Prior to selling, the property was partitioned into dental clinic, printing press, carinderia, and the area upstairs became a boarding house to students, families, and employees.

Instead of selling off the property to others which might just tear the whole place down including the bakery, Flores decided to buy the piece of property himself. One of the requests of the owner is for him to retain the bakery as a legacy of his parents.

His love of good food and history prompted him to buy the property. Kamuning Bakery used to be the only bakery in neighborhood in 1939, but that changed when baking technologies were introduced in the 1950s, making it easy for anyone to put up a bakery. The onset of technology has affected the Kamuning Bakery because Kamuning produced its bread using pugon (traditional wood-fired oven).

The pugon-style baking is much difficult compared with more modern bakeries because it is more labor-intensive and requires more workers. Sourcing of firewood is also another challenge. Further, production is low despite a long work process. Because of this, hardly anybody gets into the pugon-baking business, anymore except, perhaps, in the provinces where old style baking still lives.

Despite these drawbacks, Flores opted to retain and revive the pugon-style baking because that is exactly what makes his business unique. Kamuning Bakery is one of the few remaining authentic pugon-style baking business in the country. Originally, Kamuning had two working pugons which could roast 24 lechons each simultaneously. Currently, only one is in use as the other one is being repaired. rise



Government intervention
Support from the government came at the right time. The bakery only had two bakers and at the time there was a great demand for their bread. The bakers hardly had time to rest, they slept late and got up early until they all got sick at the same time.

When Flores finally availed himself of the support of the Department of Science and Technology, he was pleasantly surprised of the magnitude of support, as well as in the manner that DOST delivered its services. "Nagulat ako. Hindi lang yung tulong sa baking. Ang galing nila (I was surprised not only for the support for baking-- they're good.)," he said.

What surprised him is that DOST helped not only in baking, but with other areas of the business as well, such as food packaging, improving hygiene, practicing food safety, and others.

"They (DOST) gave us advice and assistance even on things we don't ask about. Kaya magaling sila. And they're very friendly. Amazed ako. They're really, very surprisingly good," Flores happily recounted his encounter with the team from the DOST-NCR.

Before the DOST-NCR assistance, Kamuning Bakery had about five personnel, but now they have over a dozen workers in the bakery.

Through the DOST-NCR's Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) which helps SMEs utilize and adopt technological innovations and scientific processes to improve business efficiency and productivity, Kamuning Bakery obtained a loan enabling them to acquire these technologies that boost their production and improve their operations, namely spiral mixer, planetary mixer, roller machine (sheeter), proofer, bread slicer, and three-deck gas oven.

Flores thinks that Kamuning Bakery and DOST are a percfect match because they both aim to be viable in the 21st century. The only way for small businesses like his, according to him, is to be viable is through the use of technology.

"Kasi ang misconception ng mga small businesses, only the big companies use technology. Ang idea ng tao, pag small business ka, mano-mano lahat, crude lang, paramihan ng tao. Akala natin mga mayayaman at malalaking kumpanya lang ang kailangan ng technology. Eh malaki na nga sila eh. May economies of scale na sila. Itong maliliit ang kailangan ang technology to cope. Kaya ang maganda sa DOST, yung tulong nila helps level the playing field for small companies in the Philippines," Flores said.

(The small businesses have this misconception that only big businesses use technology. People think that small businesses do everything bay hand, do thiings crudely, and need more people. It is assumed that only rich and big companies need technology. Bu they're already big. They already have economies of scale. The small ones are the ones that need technology to cope. The beauty of DOST is that its support helps level the playing field for small companies in the Philippines.)

Dealing with the DOST gave him a very positive public service experience. He cited the absence of headache and red tape, prompting him to commended the workers of DOST as "very good."

For more details on how to avail of other DOST-NCR services, please visit http://ncr.dost.gov.ph or in the Facebook page DOST Ncr.

Aside from SETUP, DOST offers other services in many areas, such as health, environment, education, agriculture, forestry, disaster mitigation, space science, research, and many others which the public can see during its open house in the coming National Science and Technology Week on July 25-29. Visit http://nstw.dost.gov.ph/ for more details. (Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)

Technology helps this 77-year-old bakery rise again

When the Department of Science and Technology approached him to offer assistance to modernize his 77-year-old Kamuning Bakery and Cafe, Wilson Lee Flores, businessman, college-teacher, writer, and history enthusiast, initially declined. He had low expectation when it comes to government service.


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