Her mantra has always been, 'If you are in the food business, it's not all profit;
think good health, too'
Some people might find it weird for here is a long-time leader
in the food business and promoting pork lechon at that and she is talking
good health. "There's nothing wrong with that," avers, Lydia Pasion-de
Roca of the famous Lydia's Lechon. "I and my family are health-conscious
and we want to share that with everyone else especially among our clients and
employees," the entrepreneur adds.
Forty-two years of her lechon and the company just
keeps on growing, "slowly but surely." Quips Lydia. "We opened
just last September our outlet at the new SM San Lazaro Manila. Our main outlet
in Baclaran, Parañaque City has been renovated and refurbished; all our
other outlets are constantly being polished. And when I say polished, it's from
the food, service to the outlet's physical look."
Lechon, as people would jokingly say is, "pampabata"
(read: you'll exit this world early because of cardiovascular condition such
as hypertension or cardiac failure due to high cholesterol). But Lydia remarks,
"Moderation is the key as with anything else. So why deprive yourself of
something which is intrinsically good?"
She is proud of her lechon saying, "We have improved
in so many ways like we have our pig farms in Batangas and Cebu apart from our
contract growers. So I know what goes into our lechon and I dont need
to use flavor enhancers. Basta sa amin pinaka-importante ang garlic,
pepper, rock salt, laurel leaves, leeks, spring onions, tanglad and
pandan." Apart from which, Lydia and her husband /business partner,
Boy de Roca are particular about the age of the pigs for roasting. "If
the age is right, then you get tender and juicy lechon. If the roasting
method is right, then you get crispy lechon and the skin stays crunchy
even after a few hours of exposure."
Lydia does not deny the fact that she used to be called, "Reyna ng Bangketa"
in Baclaran where her fame began. "But I studied, I also learned from the
streets and I'm lucky to have parents who taught me the values of hard work
and discipline. I and my husband have instilled the same in our children."
Their eldest Darly did not mind joining the catering team instead of playing
when he was only seven years-old. "Ngayon siya na and in-charge
ng outlets sa South and those off the foodcourts. Ricky, who
set up our computer system, takes care of the North and trains the staff. And
youngest, si Lyd Christine is into finance pero may isa pa siyang hilig
- fashion marketing. She intends to go to New York for further studies."
Each family member contributes to the marketing strategies like their recently
launched "Bilao Package." A Bilao Grande (2 kilos lechon,
2 pieces crispy pata, 1 order seafood paella or 3 orders pancit canton or bihon
and 8 pieces barbecue) is set for only P2150.00' Fiesta 2 Bilao (1 kilo lechon,
1 order pancit canton or bihon, 1 order chicken paella) is only P950.00 and
Fiesta 1 Bilao (4 pieces barbecue or 1 piece crispy pata, 1 order seafood paella,
1 order pancit canton or bihon) for P750.00
If Lydia and her family are determined to keep on improving their services it's
mostly because, "May commitment na kami both to our customers
and our employees. Our business is part of our tradition na at ang dami
naman namin tao na mahigit 10 years na sa amin, may 37 years pa
nga." She takes care of them like "I make sure they dont only eat well
but have multi-vitamins apart from their regular check-ups.' To set the example,
Lydia does not smoke nor drink; is a fierce advocate of the early-to-bed-early-to-rise
habit and exercises regularly (jogging early morning daily, brisk walking and
using the treadmill).
But over and above everything, Lydia emphasizes, "Pasalamat sa Panginoon
ang unahin, I repeat that to my staff, my grandchildren, etc." and
as a part of her thanksgiving during their November anniversary celebration,
Lydia gave each customer a free serving of lechon Cebu or seafood/
She also renewed her family's pledge to feed some homeless folks and streetchildren.
"In Bicol, there are families who have been weaving our signature lechon
baskets and trays for years, it's like a part of their cottage industry there.
Siyempre, we are happy because they were able to send their kids to
school or naka-improve ng pamumuhay nila."
Lydia shows no sign of slowing down although as she notes, "Business may
have slowed down." She looks forward to the future with optimism saying,
"There's so much to do especially for those who depend on us."