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How this Pinay pastry chef in Qatar brings hope and cheer to fellow OFWs

by Justine Punzalan
5 days ago
Rose Buds Purificacion's non-profit projects have helped Overseas Filipino Workers in Qatar cope with homesickness and depression.
PHOTO/S: Jerry D'mouse / Friendly Free Tour in Qatar on Facebook

Pinay pastry chef Rose Buds Purificacion is a symbol of hope for weary Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Qatar.

She organizes free city tours for them, gives away cakes, and, since the pandemic, has been distributing relief goods as well.

Loved by her fellow OFWs in Qatar, Rose is named by netizen Mark Lemon as his idol in the Nominate Your Lodi online campaign of PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).

Lemon wrote on his entry form, "Siya ang namimigay ng libreng cake sa mga OFWs sa Qatar since last year pa.

"Sunflower cake, bilang simbolo ng pag-asa sa mga nawalan ng mga tiwala sa sarili dahil sa kanilang kinatatayuan sa buhay.

"Nitong pandemya, tumutulong siya sa ating mga kababayan, maliban sa pamimigay ng 'Mukbang Cake.'

"Nagbibigay-daan siya para mahatiran ng mga relief goods sa daang-daan nating kababayan sa bansang Qatar.

"Iyan ang kahanga-hanga niyang nagawa."

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ROSE the advocate

Rose—or Jerry D'mouse to her Facebook friends—recalled to PEP.ph in an e-mail interview on June 15, 2020, how her little effort evolved into an advocacy.

It has also kept her busy, making her situation bearable.

Rose has been missing her two kids Fritz Gadiel and Fritzceana Gadrielle every day since she left their home in Cavite in June 2012.

They were the reason she grabbed the chance to work in Qatar as a secretary.

It was Rose's luck to have an employer who saw her potential as a pastry chef, and opened an opportunity to improve her baking skills.

She tried partnering up with a global ice-cream brand, but got rejected.

This cost Rose all her savings and nearly broke her spirit.

It was at that low point in her life that she found her "calling" to serve her fellow OFWs.

She wrote to PEP.ph, "I was really down, depressed na ako. Nagdadasal na ako.

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"'Lord, may business naman ako, maraming oras, marunong mag-bake, may sasakyan.

"'Pero bakit parang ang hirap pumasok ng pera sa akin? Ano pa yung kulang na dapat kong gawin?'

"Then ilang days, hindi mawala sa isip ko iyong ideya na, 'Swerte ka, meron ka lahat na kailangan mo…Papaano na lang iyong mga ibang kababayan natin na walang-wala talaga sila? Abutin mo iyong mga kababayan na nasa same sa sitwasyon mo.'"

Rose acted quickly.

On February 27, 2019, she uploaded a Facebook post inviting female OFWs in Qatar for a free and "friendly" city tour.

She wrote in her post, "Hi, my name is Rose. Kabayan, sino po gustong mag-unwind, mamasyal in the open area pero walang budget sa taxi? Bored na sa bahay, may off pero takot lumabas kasi walang friends or family dito?

"May friendly tour po ako para sa inyo. Walang charge.

"If you need ng may makausap, coffee, site-seeing ng mga place na makakarelax."

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Rose got a lot of responses, and she eventually became the go-to person of OFWs in need of a friend in Qatar.

Next, the Pinay came up with the idea of distributing free cakes to her kababayans at the same time that she was showcasing her cake-making skills.

She narrated in her e-mail, "March 13, 2019, may kababayan na nag-message sa akin. Sabi niya cancer survivor siya.

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"Sabi niya kahit isang sunflower cake lang para sa birthday niya, magiging masaya na siya.

"Lagi talagang nadudurog iyong puso ko sa mga messages ng mga kababayan, kaya hindi ko pinalagpas iyong request niya.

"Noong nakilala niya ako ng lubusan, sinabi niya suicidal siya noong mga oras na iyon.

"Hindi dahil sa sakit kundi dahil sa broken-hearted talaga siya.

"Siya iyong naging way para mapalaganap iyong sunflower cakes project ko.

"Andoon iyong ideya na, kung sumaya siya doon sa sunflower cake, pati iyong iba, mapapasaya ko rin kapag nabigyan nito."

She added, "Iyong iba na nakakatanggap ng sunflower cake, hindi ko na kilala.

"Iyong iba kasi, mga kababayan na may kakilalang gusto nilang pasiyahin dahil depressed na."

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While giving out cakes, Rose also conducted a free baking workshop that doubled as a counseling session for other female OFWs.

She continued, "Nagstart ako ng free baking workshop para sa mga kababayan kasi financial problem halos ang hinaing nila.

"Naging way din iyon para madivert iyong mga isip ng kababaihan sa madilim na pinagdadaanan nila.

"Saka nakakapag-usap kami ng masinsinan habang nagbi-bake. Nagiging panatag sila. Nagkakaroon sila ng kaliwanagan sa buhay.

"Ang lagi kong advice sa kanila: 'Huwag mong ubusin ang energy mo kakaisip sa mga negatibog bagay. Malakas iyong isip mo ngayon dahil nasa challenging siituations ka. Kapag ginamit mo iyan sa positibo, tiyak may magandang result.'"

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rose's FOOD FOR THE SOUL during pandemic

Instead of moping around because of a canceled flight to the Philippines owing to the pandemic, Rose once more rose to the occasion to spread cheer to her friends.

She said, "Kapag sad kasi ako hindi ako gumagawa ng bagay na ikakasaya ko, ang ginagawa ko, magpasaya ng ibang tao.

"Kapag nakita ko silang masaya, kusa na lang akong sumasaya din."

She related, thinking about the other OFWs, "Lagi kong nakikita iyong mga post ng mga tao na quarantined sila.

"No work, no pay, mga nalungkot kasi delayed iyong flight at canceled.

"Ako mandin, dapat March 15 ang uwi ko. Pero hindi ako nakauwi dahil sa Covid-19.

"Biglang na-stop iyong plano ko na uuwi sa Pinas, magbakasyon ng three months, then pagbalik dito, may setup ng pastry section sa central kitchen ng Lebanese Restaurant.

"Noong March 21, I started vlogging. Pinapakita ko iyong pagkain ko ng cake na gawa ko.

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"Tapos tinawag ko siyang 'Mukbang Cake' based sa ideya kung mauubos ko ba iyong buong cake na gawa ko.

"March 23, I announced that I'll be giving out free Mukbang Cakes. Magpasaya na lang ako ng kababayan."


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The was a month she went beyond her quota of 1,000 pieces of packaged cakes, which was more than what her small oven could handle.

She wrote, "Kapag masira iyong oven ko, titigil na ako. Kasi maliit lang iyong oven ko.

"Tapos kailangan makaabot at least ng 35 pcs a day. Para after 1 month tapos na rin yung relief operation.

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"Pero isang madaling araw, sumabog na iyong oven ko. Then I realized, lagpas na ako sa quota na 1,000 Mukbang Cakes.

"Sobra akong nalungkot. Kahit hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin ako bumibili ng oven."

A busted oven still didn't stop Rose from giving away cakes amid the pandemic.

She revealed, "So kapag meron akong order na cake ngayon, bumibili ako ng cake bread tapos dine-decorate ko.

"'Tapos ang deal ko, kapalit ng cake ay 12 trays na eggs or 50 kilos ng bigas para sa mga needy.

"Then, hindi na talaga ako nakabili ng oven kasi naibili ko na rin ng mga pagkain para sa mga kababayan."

With a bit of help from other OFWS, she was able to add relief goods to the cakes she has been giving away.

Rose continued, "Simula nung namigay ako ng Mukbang Cakes, naging maingay siya at naglabasan iyong mga sponsors ng relief goods.

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"Iyong mga iba rin na nabigyan ng Mukbang Cakes, sila din mismo iyong nagbigay ng relief goods."

THE BACK STORY

To work abroad has been a dream for the 37-year-old OFW.

"Pangarap ko talaga mag-abroad simula pa noong college.

"Nag-apply ako mag-abroad 2009, pero after ko makapasa ng interview, nalaman ko buntis pala ako sa second baby ko na si Gadri.

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"Nasa stage ako ng 'Sino pipiliin ko? Mag-abroad o iyong ipinagbubuntis ko.?'

"Despite the odds, I chose my baby over my dreams."

But here was the catch that she didn't expect, a glimpse of her good fortune.

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Rose further recounted, "'Tapos may pinaglihian ako, na hindi siya mabibili sa tindahan.

"Ginawa ko siya at tinawag kong 'Gadri's Frozen Graham Cake.'

"From 2009 to December 2011, ito iyong naging business ko.

"Malaki iyong kita ko noon kasi meron akong 30 agents. Bawat isang agent, binibenta ang frozen graham cake ko sa isang company.

"Pero noong month rin na iyon, biglang may nag-message sa akin—ang Fantasia Design & Decoration. Sila iyong mismong company na inaplyan ko noong 2009.

"Napalundag ako! Pinag-apply ako ulit 'tapos naghanap din sila ng accounting.

"Tamang-tama naman na ang ate kong si Michelle Marin accounting din iyong position niya.

"June 2012, sabay kami ng ate ko nakapag-abroad at magkasama kami sa isang kumpanya."

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In Qatar, Rose and Michelle built a good working relationship with their employer, Jamal Al Hariri.

When Rose asked for a one-month leave, Jamal encouraged her to use her time off to further hone her baking skills.

He referred Rose to his best friend Nabil Askar, who owns Aziza Lebanese Restaurant in Marriott Marquis—a five-star hotel in Doha City.

Rose recounted, "Sa one month na iyon, I worked on my business selling frozen graham cake here in Qatar.

"I kept creating mga iba’t ibang flavors. Lagi kong ipinapakita sa boss ko iyong product ko at nagkataon naman na iyong best friend ng boss ko, isang Lebanese rin, owner pala ng Lebanese restaurant sa Marriott Marquis.

"Sabi ng boss ko, 'Pumunta ka kay Mr. Nabil Askar. Alamin mo advice niya sayo.

"Sigurado mas alam niya ang dapat gawin kasi nagbabalak ka sa food industry.

"Baka malay mo makita niya yung potential ng product..."

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Eager to jumpstart a career in the food industry, Rose drove to the hotel and met with Nabil.

She remembered a piece of advice that changed her life: "Ang sinabi lang sa akin ni Mr. Nabil, 'May dream ka. Nakikita ko sayo na pastry shop and future mo.

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"Maganda iyong pangarap mo... hindi ka magiging secretary habang buhay.

"You are most welcome sa kitchen, puwede mong gamitin lahat ng ingredients na meron sa kitchen. I-develop mo iyong skills mo sa paggawa ng cake.

"At puwede ka ring magbenta. Sa iyo lahat ng kita, hindi ko gagalawin iyong profit mo. Kahit umabot pa ng billion siya."

Grateful for her kind-hearted superiors, Rose made sure they would be proud of her.

She continued, "I learned how to bake hanggang sa I mastered making chocolate moist cakes."

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"Kasabay nun, naging successful iyong chocolate pistachio ice cream cake ko."

ROSE earns reward after setback

Rose upped her game by pitching her cake to a global ice cream brand with branches in Qatar.

"Ganoon ako kaambisyosa when it comes to my product.

"Kailangan andoon iyong paniniwala mo na magiging successful iyong gawa mo," she related.

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As part of the screening process, Rose was tasked by the company to recreate the brownies being sold in their stores in the United Arab Emirates.

After finishing her assignment and depleting her savings for it, Rose received a call telling her she didn't get the deal.

"Naubos iyong savings ko na naipon ko sa pagbenta ng cake. Wala na iyong client, wala na rin iyong savings.

"Then I moved out from the kitchen dahil na-depress ako noong panahon na iyon."

At the same time, Rose couldn't go back to her office in Al Thumama, "Gustuhin ko man na bumalik, hindi pa pwede.

"Mahina na rin iyong business sa company... Hindi pa talaga pwede kasi walang income, e. Wala pang maipapasahod."

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It was at that point that Rose began her advocacy, a way out of her depression and it has served her well.

Rose said, her joy leaping through her words in her email to PEP.ph, "Making people happy is addicting! Iyon kasi yung nagiging source ng happiness ko.

"Namimigay ako ng cakes hindi lang para mapakain sila, kundi para mabigayn sila ng pag-asa na puwede pa rin nilang ipagpatuloy ang sinimulan nila dito sa Qatar.

"Ito iyong calling ko from God na kailangan kong gawin habambuhay."

Rose said she's amazed by how her advocacy has been rewarding her with financial stability.

She ended her email on a high note, "Umuusad iyong baking business ko habang pinapatakbo ko iyong advocacy. Kusa na lang siyang nangyayari.

"Iyong effort ko, nakafocus lang sa advocacy ko without knowing na it is leading me to the direction na una kong ipinag-pray kay God—na ma-solve iyong financial problem ko para sa nanay ko.

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"Iyong income, it keeps on rolling lang…hanggang sa nakakapag-ipon na ako kahit papaano saka nakakapagpadala ng pera sa mga anak at nanay ko."

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Rose Buds Purificacion's non-profit projects have helped Overseas Filipino Workers in Qatar cope with homesickness and depression.
PHOTO/S: Jerry D'mouse / Friendly Free Tour in Qatar on Facebook
  • This article was created by . Edits have been made by the PEP.ph editors.
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