It is Armanda’s business making money
Words and photos by Jose Mari M. Garcia
Her coastal village in Balanga City, Bataan is home to native fishermen, and tinapa (smoked fish) and tuyo (salted dried fish) makers. Armanda Battad, 59, grew up in a community where selling fish provides for daily survival. Every day, the heat of sun, mirage of seas and smell of fish reflected their life of poverty.
“Throughout my elementary to college days, I found joy in selling small items: from chocolates to Triumph and PX products like bra, underwear and hairpins among others. I discovered the simple happiness of having my own money at the end of work day,” Battad recalled when asked how she got into business.
“After college, I thought: I will not get better in life being an employee. I ventured back into the same industry that supported my family, which is fish processing,” she shared.
Starting with risks
Battad started getting tinapa from her village relatives and joined in early morning trips to nearby Zambales markets in the early 1990s. “I will never forget that in the first week of selling, I only earned P70. I had no idea on marketing and pricing,” she recounted.
Noticing that the marketplace was overloaded with tinapa, Battad risked going to Divisoria to buy other seafood like pusit or squid, dilis or anchovies, and daing or dried milkfish. That was when the markets of Zambales came to know her marine products, and she needed to employ 15 vendors to sell across the province.
Officially registered in 2002, Amanda’s Marine Products, coming from Battad’s nickname, is a synthesis of years of backyard and community support. As her employees sold in Zambales markets, she established her own business in Balanga City, Bataan.
“Startup was a challenge due to capital and the people around whom you could trust. All these challenges were coupled with personal hardships of sending my three children to school as a single mother,” Battad, who was estranged to her husband, shared.
“While starting, various government agencies helped me to my feet. DTI, DOST, BFAR and the local governments of Balanga City and Bataan were blessings for which I am proud to share to other entrepreneurs. The government helps a lot,” she said.
Challenged and powered
Of all the challenges Battad faced, she would not forget the ridicule from the people she met. Once in a trade fair where media outfits were milling around with cameras, Amanda’s Marine Products was about to get spotted.
“However, when they were about to turn to my booth, they said: ‘Wag natin kunan yan. Pagkain lang ‘yan ng katulong.’”
“I was hurt, but that episode fueled my passion to prove to the world that this food that they degrade is the very food that has put Amanda’s name in the world,” Battad was proud to say. Now, her clients include Chowking, Goldilocks, Cabalen, and her products reached other countries through consolidators.
It is now her vision to be a direct exporter and get her proudly Philippine-made products known around the world.
Made by the community
The best kept secret in the success of Amanda’s Marine Products: the community works hard together for same day harvest and processing. They make sure that the products—tinapa, bangus, dilis, tuyo, pusit, bagoong and bottled fish—are made from fresh catch, directly sent to the plant, protectively processed, and packaged on the same day. “Every process is done carefully by hand by community laborers who give the same quality products to their families. This is the mark of Amanda’s—100 percent fresh for your family,” Battad remarked.
Giving back to the community is a daily dedication for Battad. Way back in the 1990s when she had 15 employees up to now when she has 40 workers, all of them are community-based coming from her village of Puerto Rivas. This is what makes Amanda’s Marine Products a community enterprise for it survives for the people as it is maintained by the people.
When Typhoon Yolanda, the deadliest storm that hit Philippines, struck Leyte in 2013, Battad went to Tacloban and saw for herself the misery of livelihoods lost and the despair of nothingness. “I taught hundreds of people there how to start a small business through making tinapa. The sea that took away their lives was the same source of hope for livelihood,” she shared.
In her plant in Balanga City, The Millennium Trumpet saw how Armanda Battad kept her business strong. She wakes up early to personally check on the catch and does the bottling and packaging, while her co-villagers are up in own tasks of hauling, drying and processing. The 2018 Go Negosyo Most Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur has made a business loved by the community as it grows with the families.