SUCCESS STORY. The Verseles brothers, Virgilio (left) and Fernando (right), in front of their booth at the Sustainable Livelihood Program trade fair in Urdaneta City on Nov. 16, 2022.  The brothers are members of the Bani Delicious Ice Cream association in Bayambang town, Pangasinan. (Photo by Hilda Austria)

BAYAMBANG, Pangasinan – Members of Bani Delicious Ice Cream, a group of ice cream vendors here, have thanked local and national government agencies that helped them survive the effects of the pandemic.
Fernando Verseles, president of the association, in an interview on Wednesday, said they would not have weathered the storm brought about by the lockdowns if not for the financial assistance and skills training they have received.
Verseles said they thought about losing the livelihood but that did not happen. It instead flourished and even extended to other members of their community.
The group was formed in 2018 after each ice cream vendor was given a PHP10,000 financial grant through the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Despite the pandemic, we were able to grow our seed money into PHP352,000 by 2020,” he said.
Verseles said the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology have helped their association with the packaging, production, equipment, and training they needed.
“The LGU was very helpful as well as they also provided financial assistance and many opportunities to market our products,” he said.
He added that through this convergence, they were able to provide for their family.
They have also improved their production and market in the past years.
“I will be graduating from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program by the end of this year since one of my children has already graduated from college and is now teaching,” he said, adding that his family has also built a comfortable home.
Verseles said aside from the grant and the income, forming them into an association made their lives easier as they have a community to turn to when business gets rocky.
Kapag may problema ka, mas madali maresolba kasi grupo kayo kaya kayang ihandle ‘yong pressure. Sa halip na magkumpetensya kayo ay nagtutulungan kayo (Problems are easily resolved since we are in a group so it is easier to handle the pressure. Instead of competing with one another, we are helping one another),” he said.
Verseles said they are also aiming to change the perception of people on their product.
“We wanted to change the ‘dirty ice cream’ notion of people on our product since our ice cream is actually clean given that we follow certain standards in our production with the monitoring of these agencies,” he said.
Bani Delicious Ice Cream offers a variety of flavors such as buko (coconut), avocado, and cheese.
They also serve their ice cream at parties or any occasion. (PNA)