January 17, 2024 – Alike Editorial
Nestled amidst the bustling streets of Binondo, the heart of Manila’s vibrant Chinatown, lies Eng Bee Tin, a beloved establishment that transcends time—a place where the aromatic scent of freshly baked pastries intertwines with tales of heritage and resilience. When walking through its doors, it’s hard to imagine that the Chua family once struggled to keep it open during the 1970s. Burdened with debt and fueled by the desire to keep the family business alive, entrepreneur Gerry Chua fine-tuned his grandfather’s traditional hopia recipe, which gave birth to Eng Bee Tin’s infamous ube-flavored hopia.
Walang may gusto ng hopia namin dahil matigas siya,” (No one wanted our hopia because it’s hard) Gerry shared. “Sa awa ng Diyos, nag-click and hopiang ube. Nabayaran ko ang mga utang namin at doon nag-umpisa na mag-evolve.” (Thank God, our ube hopia was successful. We were able to pay our debts and that’s when we started to evolve.)
This narrative isn’t just about a family business; it’s a saga of unwavering commitment to heritage and embracing innovation. Gerry Chua led the innovation, and his children—Gerik, Gerald, and Geraldyn—wove new chapters into its history, expanding Eng Bee Tin’s repertoire beyond boundaries. In 2023, locals and tourists flock to Eng Bee Tin’s store in Binondo, craving to taste their trademark hopia and other product offerings. Since the ube hopia, Eng Bee Tin has also reinvented other delicacies such as pork floss hopia, hopia piña, puto bumbong, and pan-fried xiao long bao.
Feeling proud of his family, Gerry shared, “Alam mo dati, ilan-ilan ang store namin. Ngayon they have more than 50 stores na, tapos mayroon pa silang restaurant.” (Back then, we didn’t have many stores open. Now, we have more than 50 stores and our restaurant.)
When asked how he prepared his children for taking over the business, Gerry answered, “Hindi ko sila pinilit at by their own will, gusto nila at napalaki nila.” (I didn’t force them [to take over] and by their own will, they wanted to and expanded it.) This is an important point for Chua, who believes in allowing his children to pursue their passions. “Para sa akin hindi mo sila pwede pilitin,” (For me, you cant force them), Gerry said. “Kung pinilit ko sila, oo gagawin nila pero di sila tatagal.” (If I force them, they would do it but they wouldn’t last.)
Despite not being pressured into pursuing the family business, Gerik, Gerald, and Geraldyn chose to continue on the legacy. As the eldest, Gerik leads the business operations, while Gerald is in charge of the production, and Geraldyn heads the finances. In running the business, Gerry also entrusts the operation fully to his children. “Ang nakikita ko kasi kung bakit yung ibang kaibigan ko ang mga anak nila hindi masyadong nagtuloy ng business nila, kasi hindi nila 100% iniwan sa anak nila,” (From observation, I realized that the reason why my friends’ children didn’t take over their family business is because they didn’t leave it to them 100%) he said.
Opting to instead act as a guide for his children, Gerry fostered the spirit of innovation in them, an essential component of Eng Bee Tin’s success. “Sa tingin ko nakita nila na kailangan mag-innovate ng mga bago. Nakita nila na kailangan mag-innovate talaga, hindi tayo pwede na stagnant,” (I think they saw that we need to innovate new products. They saw that it is really needed, that we can’t be stagnant) he said.
In addition to innovation, another crucial aspect of Eng Bee Tin’s history is nurturing business relationships. Gerry shared, “Ang sabi ng lolo ko is dapat mahalin natin ang customer natin. Yung tauhan namin, treat them as our partner. Even yung mga supplier, we treat them as our partner din.” (My grandfather told me that we should love our customers. Our employees, we should treat them as our partners. Even the suppliers, we treat them as our partners too.)
The journey of Eng Bee Tin, rom a struggling family business burdened by debt to a beacon of success and innovation, is a testament to the power of perseverance, familial collaboration, and commitment to values. As its legacy continues to thrive under the guidance of the Chua family, its story serves as an inspiring narrative of overcoming adversity, embracing innovation, and cherishing the values that form the core of its enduring success.
Real stories. Real people.
We believe that life isn’t about a binary of ones and zeros - but about the sum of our hopes and dreams, our struggles and heartaches, our tragedies and triumphs.
The things that unite us are far stronger than the things that divide us.
And those stories are why we are alike.