Kamuning Bakery, An Original

kamuning bakeryKamuning in the 1940s had a beautiful scenery, so much so that it moved President Manuel L. Quezon then to build his first residential community in the newly created Quezon City, in this barrio.  Thus, Kamuning became the first Barrio Obrero (Worker's Village), in keeping with Quezon's original vision for the city to become a paradise for the working man.  The earliest residents were government employees who were beneficiaries of the People's Homesite Corporation.

Alejandro Roces, Sr., who was appointed by Quezon in 1939 to be a member of the first City Council, was a key partner of Quezon in creating the new city and in developing the new communities.  Roces happened to be a friend of Miguel Bonifacio, a bakery owner, who with his wife, Jovita, owned a thriving bakery in Manila called Los Baños Bakery (so-called because the couple's roots were in Laguna).  Roces felt that bakeries were essential fixtures in residential communities.

Miguel agreed and sent his daughter, Leticia, and husband, Marcelo, to start a bakery in the brand new neighborhood of Kamuning.  It was thus that Kamuning Bakery was built in 43-A K-C (now Judge Jimenez Street) corner K-1st as one of the first structures there, together with a barbershop, a grocery, elementary and high schools, and a church.  Leticia's son, Teddy recalls:  “It was a neighborhood where everybody knew everybody.”  Kamuning Bakery remains in its original site to this day.  

Leticia was not a baker, but a lawyer, a woman empowered at a time when the term was unheard of.  During the period of Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the bakery stopped its operation for some time because flour, which was imported, was difficult and expensive to secure.  On February 10, 1945, Miguel Bonifacio and Marcelo Javier were killed in the Malate teddy kamuning bakeryMassacre, a horrific period of history when Japanese soldiers went on a rampage and killed hundreds of civilians in Manila.

Widowed, Leticia continued to run the business with his uncle Ambrosio Ison.  The business operated throughout the years, with Leticia maintaining her generations of loyal bakers. By that time, she already had three children. Teddy Javier, who was the second child, and his siblings were involved in the business since childhood.

Teddy remembers when he was five, his mother would wake him up early in the morning to sell some "pan de sal" which then cost three for five centavos.   When the customer would purchase three pieces, it was easy.  But when the customer would buy 10 pieces or more, the 5-year old boy's math could not keep up and would eventually be chided for losing out in the payments.  Eventually, when Teddy got older, he was made to handle more responsibilities.  Even when he was in college as a cadet officer, he had to go back home from his barracks in the morning to combine ingredients himself, because their bakers were not allowed to know these formulations, which was their family's trade's secret.   He also experienced delivering bread when their drivers couldn't report  for work.

From 1960-1968, Teddy eventually found employment in ABS-CBN. He was a salesman for four years, a job that gave him much privileges.  However, though well-paid, he wanted to run the family business instead, which his mother permitted.  Soon enough, Teddy resigned from ABS-CBN and took over the bakery's management.

kamuning bakery oldHe wanted to change the name of the bakery for marketing purposes.  He eyed supplying supermarkets and believed that bread labeled "Kamuning Bakery" was too parochial for the supply network he had in mind to cultivate. Unfortunately, his mother declined a change of name.

Discouraged, he tried to set up his own bakeshop.  He found “American Breadman” available for rent in West Avenue, but discovered that the place got flooded during rainy days.  He finally rented a bakery in N. Domingo that had an oven which did not function well, so he opted to turn it into a sari-sari store instead.    He bought bread from his mother's bakeshop and labeled it "Country Breadman,"  supplying the first branch of Tropical Hut in Quezon City as his first institutional customer.  

Later on, bread from Kamuning Bakery was also delivered to New Frontier, South Supermarket and even Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in Welcome Rotunda and in Taft Avenue. His business was doing well and he had plenty of patrons.

Teddy took a respite from the bakery business in 1970, when he rejoined ABS-CBN which put up a new broadcast station in Bohol Avenue.  When his mother passed away, his older sister took over but she did not really have the inclination to manage it.  

Just last year, Teddy bought the bakery and the property from his siblings because he wanted to keep the family business going, and preserve its name for its historical value.   Today, his wife's sister-in-law oversees the bakery's operation. They have already perfected not only their breads' taste but also their consistency.

Supermarkets with their inhouse bakeshops have cut into the markets of neighborhood bakeries, and this is the biggest business challenge.

kamuning bakery pugonCreating a destination bakery

At present, Teddy thinks of turning the bakery into what he calls a "destination bakery," where customers go to for a specialty product that only they offer. Hence, he is updating their product line. Other plans include providing for a café area, where patrons can enjoy their pastries with sips of java.  He is also looking into the possibility of marketing his bread as "pasalubong" especially for "balikbayans" who are hankering for the taste of traditional style Filipino breads.  Kamuning Bakery continues to bake its breads in a wood-fired oven (“pugon”), that gives its products a distinct smokey flavor.

Patrons and Bestsellers

One of the bestsellers is their very own Pan de Suelo, a favorite of the late President Corazon Aquino, who was a frequent customer. This kind of bread, he says, requires a special skill to bake, because it is cooked in the oven's floor, and the heat is circulated equally to ensure that it is cooked perfectly.

Some bloggers have already written about Kamuning Bakery, writing about it from their childhood memories. One says:

“We got a wonderful New Year's gift from one of Vicky's uncles--egg pie from the famous Kamuning Bakery, which has been open since pre-war days.  I tell you, the consistency of the egg filling is practically leche flan!  Sweetness is just right, and one slice is not enough for me!  I understand that her uncle has patronized this bakery since the fifties; I don't know how much the egg pies cost these days, but I'm sure it's got a big bang for your buck! Simple, filling, great tasting!  The bakery also has other delights (e.g. cheesecake), but the egg pie is what it's been known for.” (Posted 2nd January 2012 by richric2003)

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