Fork and Skewers in the Road

Young globetrotter Angely Dub takes a detour from travel industry to selling ihaw-ihaw for a cause 

Angely Dub is serving looks...and isaw.

When unemployment soared and establishments shut down, people turned to the internet for coping strategies, new business models—and thrived somehow. That boxy family milk tea place you love is on Foodpanda, and homebased hustle gave rise to Shopee consignments for reselling, different versions of ube pandesal, and formalized hobbies over commissions.

So is the travel industry’s power girl Angely Dub, who has launched an online store called Bulilit Kitchen that sells ihaw-ihaw and Filipino comfort food.

The 28-year-old jetsetting entrepreneur has been manning her very own company Access Travel and Tours, assembling travel professionals and consultants to help plan trips around the world, since her late teens. Although she has been to every continent in the world, she admits that the transition to food business as her personal take on marketing adaptability is a move out of her comfort zone, but she finds it empowering nonetheless.

Angely has been to every continent

Not to be confused with a concept that may sound gentrifying at first, Bulilit Kitchen is a passion project for the benefit of sidewalk vendors around Angely’s area in Cavite and housewives who are looking for ways to earn during the pandemic.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle talks to Angely Dub on traveling, changing courses amid the crisis, and what else is cooking. 

What was your quarantine like?
It was sort of a blessing because I was able to rest. I’ve been building Access for almost 10 years, which means I’ve been traveling basically my whole life and I’ve never really stayed home this long. It was also a new way to know more of myself and figure out what else I could do with my life. Sometimes when we’re too busy, we are just in our comfort zone, and I know I’ve done a lot in my life, but I still want to do more. So, my quarantine was basically just at home with my mom and my family and my dogs, which I really enjoyed. Though, of course, I know it’s very selfish to say that I enjoyed it because I know so many people were suffering, but for me, it was indeed a blessing because I was really able to spend time with my family. 

What are your initial reactions to the worldwide tourism downturn?Honestly, we couldn’t do anything about it. No matter how good you are at business, you just have to accept and adapt to new circumstances that are given to you. So, that’s why I started Bulilit Kitchen, because I didn’t want to just sit down and let life pass me by, ’di ba

I’m not the chef and I can’t cook, but I gave jobs to 25 people. The recession gave a new direction to businesses. It’s sad but this will filter everything like who are strong enough to stay still. Once travel agencies were a fad and they were everywhere, so the trend affected the service, quality, and name of the whole industry, but Covid-19 has filtered out the scammers or brands that do not serve the market well. That’s why I’m trying to learn.

How did you get into this food business? 
It started out as an inside joke, really. We are a family of tall people and our yaya is very small that’s why we called it “bulilit (tiny).” It was just a joke and every one of us found it really funny and it became serious.

Bulilit Kitchen group comprises of housewives, roadside vendors, and Angely's chef friends.

The concept of Bulilit Kitchen is, and always will be, to help other people. I built it to help the tricycle drivers and the jobless women who grew up selling ihaw-ihaw sat tabi-tabi (grilled street food) in our area, so apparently, the joke became real. I hired them and taught them how to do it the proper and clean way. We delivered to Quezon City, Marikina, and Antipolo to reach a lot of people. I’ve also hired some of my chef friends to cook seafood and smoked beef, and some housewives to bake ube pandesal.

I eat locally baked goods like pandesal but I’m not really a fan of Filipino food, and I thought, how could I run this business without liking this kind of food? The thing is, I didn’t run this business because I’m good at cooking or anything. I did it to help other people and make use of their skills. I wanted to give the local artists a chance through cooking, because I consider it as art. 

Bulilit Kitchen's ube pandesal

Access Travel has always been about me, my dreams, my career, my company, so this time, I’m doing something meaningful for the community through Bulilit Kitchen.

What are your bestsellers?
The street food or inihaw is our bestseller. We only have a few products, like maybe five in all, because we wanted to be known through them and to only focus on what we have in front of us. I don’t want to jump ahead into the bigger picture because I want to learn more before expanding, or to see people’s reaction day by day. 

Going back to travel, what is the first destination in your post-Covid travel bucket list?
I want to go to Romblon, because it has been my absolute favorite. And, of course, Palawan because I was supposed to go there with someone I really like, but he’s from Spain so that’s not possible anytime soon. Internationally, I would like to go to Spain to see him because I’ve never missed anyone like I’ve been missing him so much.

Do you have any travel tips for those who are dreaming of travel in the wake of pandemic?
Honestly, my new job is to assure people of safety in traveling. My advice to everyone is, based on my understanding, we need to do things now more responsibly. When leisure travel reopens, I advise everyone to help our fellow Filipino first and start locally because the Philippines needs us in jumpstarting domestic tourism again. After that, we can explore the international market.