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Baking to keep busy—and earn a living

Care Balleras



Pacaña experiments with trends like the ube-cheese pandesal to put them in cookie form. PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID JOHN CUBANGBANG FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

One of the good outcomes of the pandemic is that people turned to livelihoods that were once hobbies. Who would have thought that our aspirations for work promotion in the next few years would suddenly pivot into home-based businesses?

Transformations have characterized life under quarantine. Sofia Monica Magallanes-Pacaña recalls how baking became a source of income and allowed her to overcome internal battles and fulfill her advocacies.

Daily Tribune (DT): How have you been during the quarantine? What are you doing these days?
Sofia Monica Magallanes-Pacaña (SP): Quarantine was okay. It gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my family. But on other hand, I was also looking for something to do. These days, I enjoy taking care of plants, walking my dogs and, of course, baking.


Sofia Pacaña overcomes internal battles by baking.

DT: They say that baking is good for mental health. Is this true for you?

SP: This is true. There was a time when I felt like I was stuck in a routine of waking up, eating, checking the news and then sleeping and doing it again the next day. I felt like I was very unproductive. When I started baking, I became busy with research, looking for inspiration, experimenting with things, and this really took up my time. I started selling in our village, as well as on Instagram, and I felt so fulfilled every time I looked at the finished product.

DT: Apart from baking, what else makes you feel good?

SP: Planting. Our room is filled with plants. I also enjoy embroidery and painting.

DT: Were you really into baking before going into business? Are there family members or friends who inspired you to pursue baking?

SP: I wasn’t really into baking. I was more into the crafts (repurposing woodwork and furniture, painting, soap making). It was easy to get baked goods pre-quarantine, so I didn’t really think of baking. Although I would join bazaars or fairs when I was in school and bake here and there when I was working at the office, it wasn’t something that I did regularly. I dreamt of having my own café since I was a kid, and I was about to go into it and set up this year, but COVID-19 happened.

Initially I was thinking how to earn extra (money) during the quarantine. My mother-in-law told me to join the village food Facebook page… My mom encouraged me to try baking to keep me busy. I saw that there were many talented cooks and bakers in our village and I wanted to contribute something.

I also thought it would be nice to have a proper menu for myw café, if I decide to set it up one day.

DT: What really made you try baking for a living? Why did you name your business 2020 Village?

SP: I saw the need to have access to food inside the village. It was hard to get food from outside. I saw that there was a need to support the community as well. I also purchased from sellers. I felt like I was in a safe space to try out something new.


Sofia in an interview with Komfie Manalo for TribuneNOW’s ‘Kalingang Katribu.’

I was also thinking about a way to give back. I set aside P20 from each product as a donation fund. If there is someone in need, I take from the box and give what I can. As you grow, you also need to help others grow.
The reason I called it 2

WHITE and dark chocolate chip cookie.

020 Village is because it was set up this year, 2020, in our village. My logo has the Dove holding a leaf like the one in the great flood which was God’s symbol of Hope. When I started this business, I wanted it to be a reminder for me in the future. When I see the logo and name, I will be reminded of the Pandemic (like the Great Flood) and how God gave me the opportunity to start something. I plan to set up a café that gives back to society.

DT: Since home-based baking businesses have emerged, what do you think is your edge? What is special about your products?

SP: More than the products, I’m proud of what I stand for. I want to be able to help people in the long run. In terms of products, I try to come up with other versions of trendy products. People were coming up with ube-cheese pandesal, so I started experimenting on how to put it in cookie form (ube-cheese crinkle). I also wanted to try to combine a crème brulee and cheese tart. I try to mix things up. I also do not overprice. After computing costs, I do market study and check how much these products are selling. It is important to be fair in pricing.


Sofia dreams of building her own café soon.

DT: How do you cope with demand, given that you are almost a one-man team?

SP: Actually, I am a one-woman team at the moment. I get some help from my cousin and my husband when the orders are overwhelming. I prepare some ingredients in advanced.

DT: When the pandemic eases, do you still see your business thriving?

SP: I plan to set up my dream café to carry my products, so I see it thriving.

DT: Do you also dream of putting up a physical shop?

SP: Yes! Super excited to set up a physical shop. I have the layout and theme all planned out. This has been my dream for so long.

DT: What’s your advice to people who have second thoughts of putting up a homebased business?

SP: When I was younger, during one of our travels, I was staring at a fountain with lights at the bottom, and I wanted to touch the water but was afraid I might get electrocuted. A stranger sat beside me and whispered, “If you don’t try, you’ll never know.” This has been my motto. The most important thing is to pray. God’s guidance is always the best guidance.