Reinvented ‘lumpia,’ ‘turon’ sell like hot cakes in Bacolod
BACOLOD CITY—Two Filipino favorite snacks—“lumpia” and “turon”—have been given a twist by a foreigner who has settled here and are now selling like hot cakes.
Bryan Reano, 61, a British national, and his Filipino girlfriend, Rosalinda Labajo, 58, can sell at least 200 pieces of spicy beef lumpia (native spring rolls) and turon (fried sliced banana rolled in “lumpia” wrapper) in less than two hours in the downtown area and Burgos, 6th and Lacson streets.
“I love selling. I go to shops, the hairdressers’, anywhere to sell. I meet all kinds of people every day. That’s the fun of it,” Reano said, unmindful of the sun’s scorching heat.
Before moving to the Philippines, the Briton worked as a waiter in some of the top restaurants in Paris for 15 years. He met Labajo, then a fish broker at a port in Barangay Catabla, Talisay City, online and fell in love with her.
“She (Labajo) made me laugh so I sold my house, my car and everything I owned and came to the Philippines,” Reano said.
Reano arrived in Negros Occidental province in February 2012. He spent all his money having a good time with Labajo on Boracay Island in Aklan province and at Mambukal Resort in Murcia town, Negros Occidental.
The couple went into the fishing business and bought two motorized bancas. But there were not enough fish to catch in waters off Catabla, also in Negros Occidental, due to pollution, Reano said.
When Reano fell accidentally and broke his left leg, he and his partner had to sell the boats to pay for hospital bills. He had to stay in bed for six months and was not able work for more than a year.
While taking care of him, Labajo thought of making turon to sell at the fish port in Talisay. With only P100, the two started selling turon at P3 apiece and would earn P80 a day.
Reano suggested selling spicy beef lumpia to augment their income. At first, Labajo was hesitant because it might not suit the palate of Negrenses, but Reano was persistent. They sold the lumpia at P20 apiece in the market, and it became a hit.
“In five minutes, it was gone,” Reano said.
What makes the food delicious is the spicy sauce, which some people order for their crispy “pata” (deep-fried pig trotters), omelet and French fries, among other dishes, Labajo said.
In their turon, Reano added sticky rice and homemade fruit jam with the sliced banana. The jam is made from the fruit in season—orange, jackfruit, pineapple or lychee.
Customers love their version of the snack, which the couple sell at P10 apiece.
Reano and Labajo start their day at 3 a.m. to start chopping the ingredients. Their simple division of labor: He cooks while she wraps the turon and lumpia.
It takes five hours for them to finish cooking, Labajo said.
Reano has also come with up lumpia varieties so their customers will not grow tired of their products. These include spicy seafood, chicken curry, Hungarian sausage and spicy beef lumpia. They also sell “siomai” cooked with different herbs along with their turon.
They do not use salt, sugar and monosodium glutamate in their products. “We try to be as organic as we can. The secret is in the spices and herbs we use. It’s magic,” Reano said.
He also makes sure they use very little oil for cooking. They also use lean beef.
If they could find a financier, they would love to open a restaurant in Bacolod. But in the meantime, Reano enjoys what he is doing.
He has no plans of going back to England, especially because he has found Labajo and has made a lot of friends in Negros Occidental. “I’m going to die here in the Philippines,” he said.
He has learned to speak Ilonggo from people he met in the streets. “In the Philippines, wala obra, wala kaon (no work, no eat),” he said.
Labajo sees Reano as a loving, responsible and caring man. If there is one thing she has learned from him, it is never to give up on a relationship no matter the difficulties that they encounter.
Reano said he considered himself lucky being able to find someone like Labajo whom he described as “kind, generous, honest and hardworking.”
“But if you cross her, watch out,” he said.
He hopes to inspire the youth in the Philippines. Anyone can make money if they are willing to work hard, even on the streets.
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