Mention “Eng Bee Tin,” and ube (or purple yam) would, without a fail, be brought up—not only because it’s the brand’s sought-after hopia flavor, but also because of the fire trucks roaming around Binondo, their color reminiscent of the saccharine treat the brand is renowned for.
But business wasn’t always a sweet treat for the iconic bakery. Founded in 1912, Eng Bee Tin struggled to keep its doors open in the 1980s.
The founder’s fourth-generation descendant, then 21-year-old Gerry Chua, wanted to revive the business through an innovative product—the mooncake-like, ube-flavored hopia. He whipped up the recipe when he learned that purple yam was the best-selling ice-cream flavor at a nearby Chinese grocery, an old haunt of his.
Hardship and rejection never stopped Chua from pursuing his big dreams for Eng Bee Tin. He persistently pleaded with an exporter to bring his ube hopia to the United States. Once American customers cultivated a taste for the unique pastry, his life and business began to change for the better.
From that small bakery in Ongpin, Eng Bee Tin grew to manage 20 branches and five restaurants. Chua’s pet project, Café Mezzanine, is an instrument for him to give back to his community.
He donates 100 percent of the café’s profits to Binondo’s highly regarded fire brigade, of which he had been a member since he was 16. Over the years, he donated 10 fire trucks and two ambulance vans decked out in no other than Eng Bee Tin purple.
A significant part of its success is the company’s ongoing relationship with Meralco. Eng Bee Tin worked with the Meralco BiZ Partners—from planning to energizing state-of-the-art headquarters of its own.
Chua met the Meralco BiZ Partners through Gemini Electric, a Meralco-certified contractor. With consultancy services provided by the BiZ Partners, Chua equipped his building with a car lift, energy-efficient fixtures, and an innovative transformer system that saved the business over P8-million worth of real-estate space.
“I will convert the space freed up by the overhead transformer into a coffee shop, and the profits will be donated to a good cause,” promises Chua. “Ang tulong na patuloy na binibigay ng Meralco, itutulong ko rin sa iba.” (“The help we continue to receive from Meralco, I will pass on to others”).
More than the tangible successes of Eng Bee Tin, “it is Gerry (Chua)’s perseverance and generous spirit that truly inspires Filipino brands to innovate, go global, and give back to their own communities,” says Cecille M. Domingo, Meralco’s senior assistant vice president and head for the BiZ Partners Group.
Chua’s dedication led Meralco to honor him as one of the 2016’s Meralco BiZ Luminaries, an annual recognition given to partners that are committed to the country’s growth through service excellence.
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