(STAR) By the GO NEGOSYO team - Bouncing checks, family woes and rumors spreading like wildfire were some of the problems that met then 18-year-old Gerry Chua at Eng Bee Tin (Ever Precious Beauty), their family’s decades-old hopia business. Today, however, Chua can tell and re-tell his business’ colorful history and its rise from near-bankruptcy to resounding success.

Although stories of Chinese-Filipinos’ successful entrepreneurial ventures are not new in the country, Chua’s tale is different from the rest, a testament to persistence, will power and innovation.

Chua cannot help but beam with pride every time he recalls moments when he had to wait for a Chinese exporter in one corner of Binondo so he could offer his goods. Notwithstanding serial rejection, he would still insist on developing his product so that he could finally get the much-coveted thumbs-up from the exporter.

Because corn oil had not given him the desired distinct taste he was looking for, he tried using other ingredients to make sure his hopia was a cut above the rest.

Enter ube halaya, an old favorite, which he introduced as a departure from the more common mongo flavor. Like most new things, however, Chua’s ube hopia encountered initial resistance from mung bean cake purists. But when celebrity host Cory Quirino featured his product in her TV show, the young Chinese entrepreneur sensed better times ahead for his masterpiece” and for the family business.

Today, Eng Bee Tin offers a wide range of hopia flavors: from traditional mongo to ube, pandan, and several other hearty combinations distinctly Filipino. It is truly living up to its reputation of being the home of the best hopia in the country.

To his loyal customers, Gerry Chua is Mr. Ube – the man behind the sweet and delectable delicacy that has tickled the taste buds of hopia eaters the world over.

As a testament, his outlets across the metropolis and a number of distributors that made Eng Bee Tin products available in convenience stores and supermarkets are still growing. Other than hopia, Eng Bee Tin now also offers quality frozen products, Filipino treats, processed seafood, and even breads and cakes.

Despite giving modest recognition to his business acumen, he is proud to say that everything he is reaping today is just the fruit of the good deeds he sowed years ago.

A fire volunteer who has been braving the dangers of fire-fighting since he was a young man, Chua said he feels good in helping people. Other than risking his own life, he has also thought of a way to better help his community. Aside from buying two firetrucks which he painted purple as a reminder of the ube halaya which brought him enormous luck, he also put up Café Mezzanine, a restaurant whose profits go to fire volunteers.

Because of the inspiration he has drawn not only from his immediate community but from the city of Manila as well, the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship will be recognizing Gerry as one of Manila’s Inspiring Entrepreneurs at the Go Negosyo sa Manila slated on Sept. 7, 2007 at the Philam Center for the Arts, United Nations Avenue, Manila. Spearheaded by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Concepcion III, this event is part of the ongoing Go Negosyo Caravan.

Because of Chua’s flair for business, Eng Bee Tin products are not only available locally. The company is also one of the biggest international exporters of hopia, delivering to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA.

Truly, the company’s zest for innovation, which its owner and president initiated, persists to this day. Wanting to keep its roots, Eng Bee Tin remains in the same spot it has occupied for over 90 years: on Ongpin near the corner of Nueva (now Yuchengco), an indelible landmark in storied Chinatown.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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