|Lucban, Quezon Mayor: Celso Olivier T. Dator giving words|
|photo linked here|
Maybe its the sunflowers used to set the cheery interior of Buddy's, or the festive and inviting milieu, but for many diners looking for pre-defined Filipino comfort food, whether be it for a hefty family meal or a singled-out "meryenda" (Filipino word for snack) Buddy's is always on a thought.
|Buddy's The Link, Makati branch|
I certainly am ashamed of myself, I'm now nearing 40 and yet have never desired of learning to cook any pancit. With my mother-in-law cooking her specialty pancit bihon during special occassions, such excuses made me anxious to do it at home. However, why cook pancit at home when you can actually delight in a "bilao" of Buddy's Pancit Lucban and a lot of other classic Southern Tagalog dishes to go with it plus wallow in the complete festive feel of every Buddy's branches.
All thanks to Saldi and Nova Veluz, Buddy's wouldn't have gone as far as 30 years serving us with true Tagalog flavors that any OFW's would love to come home to. Though the origin of Buddy's is already given, not many know how it all started.
|With me are photo-journalist Teddy Pelaez, DOT Region 4A RD Rebecca Villanueva Labit, |
Nova Veluz and acclaimed Photographer George Tapan
It was such a privilege having attended the Habhaban Festival last August 18 at Lucban, Quezon. It was the fourth year of the said fest and heaven have aligned it to Buddy's anniversary. It was their 30th year and I could just imagine all they have gone through to reach the restaurant's stature. More than that I was able to hear how Buddy's came forth. It epitomizes inspiration, a well of kind-hearted, unprecedented, strategy of sustainable business.
But for me who is only a traveler, a spectator, were the bands doesn't seem to be appealing, my interest is on how Buddy's could have staged such an exciting fete, were pancit, burgers and drinks were being given away like candies to everyone, while the people happily feasted with pancit habhab on a paper plate, gobbling up the noodles with their mouth only. Habhab is a Tagalog word which is a manner of eating, where no utensils are used, not even the fingers. It was an old culture which the people of Lucban was able to retain up to now.
Finally, up on the stage, the Veluz couple, with Saldi talking about how grateful they were to have come this far, from being a humble farmer, a back up dancer for Nora Aunor's TV show and a home appliance seller (Electrolux) to a successful owner of Buddy's. Nova on the other hand, have greater praises for her husband, how he had came back to his hometown and settled back to farm to putting until he had put up a small business using his main crops, specially the sayote, in making and selling Lumpiang Sariwa. Until such a time, that clients would ask for other food. Thus, Buddy's was born with the addition of burgers and spaghetti to the list of food he sold.
It didn't stop there, the menu soon grew until more and more diners even from other towns would visit and pitch the resto to others. The first branch was at Saldi's parent's property, which was known only as a mid-class carinderia. Soon the need to expand boundaries came and Manila was experiencing Lucban's finest in Kakarong St., Makati in 1998. Until now, that first branch outside Quezon still is being flocked by many diners.
It was Sandy Daza who was able to spread the words about Buddy's Manila branch. As he wrote about them as authentic Pancit Lucban but made more appetizing with the addition of Lechon Kawali and lots of sayote mixed in the pancit. Don't be mistaken, they do have other kinds of Pancit, including Chami which was from Lucena, where Nova hails from and a plethora dishes all showcasing fiesta.
For now they are still not open for franchising, for they are very strict when it comes to the quality of their food. "It's about our cooks," enthused Saldi. "We could never compromise the flavor that is authentic to us Lucbanians." Saldi was the one who initially cooked the dishes since he, himself loves to cook, he also was the one who developed the dishes making them unique to Buddy's. "All our cooks, in all our branches are locals of Lucban or Quezon," as Saldi added, and he trains them and assigns them the branches. While Saldi takes over the kitchen and the interior decorating, Nova is the one handling sales and marketing. But both are keen on making sure their employees are well-compensated, especially those who have been with them from the start.
Buddy's stands proud with 30 years of building and maintaining their love for their business- of serving good Filipino food while staying true to the culture they are most passionate with. The couple, Saldi and Nova, together with their four children are testaments that "sipag at tiyaga" (hard-work and perseverance) is the key plus their belief that the most important part of their business is their people. They were able to manage relationships in the workplace to keep the business functioning smoothly, to avoid problems, and make sure employees are performing at their best. But they are not stopping there, still in plans is new concept resto, fine-dining for a change, where one of their children who finished Culinary Studies in Benilde will build up, of course it is still Filipino cuisine.