Feature: Taholics: Reimagining an all-time favorite family snack
“Tahooooo!” is what we used to hear as a beautiful single lyric to a song sang with vibrato by a man carrying, on his shoulder, two large tin cans held together by a sturdy bamboo or hard wooden stick.
Back then, every afternoon, as we hear this beautiful tune, something resonates in our stomach, giving us the right amount of tingle in our palate to stop whatever it is that we are doing. Then we get some loose change and head on out our gates to get some taho.
Sometimes, we’d answer back with the same “tahooooo!” tune to let the peddler know that we will buy a serving or more of his taho.
Taho is a well-loved breakfast or snack in the Philippines made with silken tofu and a whole lot of sweet brown sugar syrup, served warm in a cup or mug. Spoon, straw, or straight up, taho will keep you going for the rest of the day.
In this time when a lot of people prefer to have the milk tea, four friends decided to reimagine the taho.
Last year, Rod Bolivar, Angelo Andrade, Joey Yecyec, and Eastine Taneo were faced with the fact that they might all be losing their jobs.
Rod, Angelo, and Joey served as reporters for ABS-CBN Northern Mindanao, while Eastine was the head writer.
“When ABS-CBN failed to secure a new franchise last year, we already knew that it would not take long for mass retrenchment to follow,” Angelo said.
Fazed, the four got together for some drinks and planned on starting a small business as they were uncertain they would find new jobs immediately.
Rod, Angelo, Joey and Eastine instinctively think of a milk tea business as they know people, especially teens and teens-at-heart, are into it. However, they also knew it would be an uphill battle against all the milk tea businesses frolicking about in the country, let alone the region.
They finally agreed that taho would be the best choice to sell as everyone is already familiar with it.
"We want to sell a different kind of taho, an upgraded version from those peddled on the street. That is why we came up with an idea to sell flavored taho, not just the usual anibal or caramel syrup," said Joey.
As they were concocting a witty name for their reimagined taho business, retrenchment was already lurking about and by the end of August 2020, it happened. ABS-CBN workers were given their separation pay.
Fortunately, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-10 extended livelihood assistance to retrenched workers from the said station, and Eastine and Angelo were able to avail the assistance.
The two became beneficiaries of DOLE-10’s livelihood starter kits where Angelo received the chilled refreshments starter kit project inclusive of one chiller and various soft drinks amounting to P20,000.
Eastine received the Taho selling starter kit also amounting to P20,000 that included soybeans, the main ingredient of which silken tofu is made from.
“Dako ang natabang sa DOLE na livelihood starter kits (The DOLE livelihood starter kits were really a big help), especially Angelo’s refrigerator,” Eastine said.
Overall, DOLE-10 turned over livelihood starter kits amounting to P139,689 to seven retrenched workers from ABS-CBN Northern Mindanao, February 26.
DOLE Kabuhayan (DK) Starter Kits Project is a livelihood formation strategy intended to bring about improved socio-economic well-being of workers and their families that would enable the beneficiaries to quick-start a livelihood venture and become self-employed.
It aims to engage them in sustainable self-employment through easy and accessible livelihood undertakings.
"The whole idea of our taho business was conceptualized over a few drinks. Taholics was coined from the words: taho and “aholics” or as Webster puts it, one who exhibits an obsessive need for or interest in (something specified)," said Eastine.
It took the “Taholics” eight months to prepare the business, from construction of the store to developing and concocting the taho flavors.
Currently, Taholics has four available flavors, first is the Classic, which is the traditional taho with sago and anibal with their version having a generous amount of caramel syrup. They also have Ube, which uses ube-flavored syrup with a swirl of ube-flavored milk, and so far it is their best-seller.
Taholics also make the Strawberry taho with flavored syrup and strawberry jam, and the Buko-Pandan, which uses buko pandan-flavored syrup accented with real bits of sweetened coconut strips.
Taholics is relatively new in the industry and while promoting the business may come as quite a challenge, the “Taholics” are confident they can sing to the tune.
"Our strong media production background is a big help in promoting our business. We took advantage of social media platforms to introduce our product to the public. Working in a media company harnessed our skills in digital content production, and being media personalities are helpful in gaining immediate trust from our market," said Rod, who also has a pizza place in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
Five years from now, Rod, Angelo, Joey, and Eastine aim to have more branches in Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, and neighboring provinces like Bukidnon where Rod and Joey are currently based.
Taholics is located at Opol Public Market in the Municipality of Opol, Misamis Oriental. One may visit their store or browse through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/taholics. (SAYU/PIA-10)
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