By Cherry Joy S. Discaya-Garma
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — Inspired by her father‘s trait of hard work and perseverance in life, this woman who grew up earning most of her life lessons doing farm works with her dad is now a successful business owner of a food hub here.
With great joy of doing what she has now, Christine Joy “C-Joy” Salvador, 31, a psychology degree holder and a native of Laoag City is nailing her own food business named Good Vibes by Geronimo’s Coffee, Pasta and Delight, with her homegrown herbs as the main ingredient.
The flavorful and uniqueness of the herbs use to add some aroma and taste in the usual pasta, sandwich, dessert, and even beverages that are being served at the café,’ has totally created a buzz among costumers, and became an instant hit to the people.
“I observed that Ilocanos, by the looks of the food establishments here, are not fond in using herbs in their dishes maybe there is this notion that healthy foods are not delicious, thus, I created something that will change their perception,” said C-Joy.
Wanting to challenge herself, C-Joy introduced the idea of “Dulang” where people get to dine in their backyard sitting on the floor with a cozy set-up, mostly for couple, but it grew bigger that even group of friends are reserving for the experience of Dulang.
C-Joy did not expect that her herbal dishes will be appreciated and demand will grow from the series of free taste to her friends and family into more on a business venture.
“I only crave for the taste of herbs in my food because I grew up with these stuff, then I tried to make pasta using these ingredients since it just grows in our backyard, then it became an instant favorite,” she said.
C-Joy’s mother is the one who has a green thumb in herbal planting.
She believes in alternative medicine, thus uses herbal medicine in their household to heal simple sickness such as colds, bruise, and even allergies.
Due to this, C-Joy grew up with their small garden of herbal plants like Holy Basil, Dill, Thyme, Oregano, Aloe Vera, Ashitaba, Rosemary, Gotu Kola, and Pandan. All these growing in their backyard.
Today, their family has about 200-square meter garden with different variety of herbal plants where C-Joy freshly picked herbs for her pasta, and other food servings in Good Vibes, mostly are Basil, Dill, and Thyme.
The mini-garden is maintained by their household mainly for the use of their business, however, C-Joy also advocates on supporting local farmers in Ilocos Norte, such that, she buys her supplies from them.
She is currently supporting a local lettuce grower in Pagudpud, a Calamansi grower in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.
She eyes to support more local farmers as demand for her business like Calamansi, which she uses in her juices, her signature drink ‘Kabigan.’
With roughly two-year in the market, Good Vibes is now operating six days a week except Sundays.
They are supplying juices in six food stalls across the province, helping other people earn additional income.
What is interesting in this food hub are the dishes named after the top tourist destinations in Ilocos, in support to the growing tourism industry here and in the neighboring provinces.
For instance, the most-visited Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos town here was interpreted as a pasta dish, with the white and creamy sauce representing the color of the rocks.
Another bestseller here is the Patapat pasta topped with longganisa (Ilocano pork sausage) which is also homemade and basil, a dish named after Patapat Viaduct in Pagudpud.
For sandwiches, they have Calle Crisologo (Vigan), and Adams sandwich to indulge in.
For C-Joy, being in a business using herbs is addictive.
She related it by saying “when you love what you do, it is only nothing but fun.”
She constantly tries to innovate food using herbs to cater the cravings of her growing patrons, of course, with the indulgence of local crops from the local growers here.
“One of my goals is to introduce to the Ilocanos especially to our young generations the health benefits of the herbal plants and of course the importance of healthy eating,” C-Joy said.
With the cool interior and cozy ambiance of the place, people keep going back in their little but cozy space, only a few feet away from the La Tabacalera and Museo Iloco in Laoag City. (Cherry Joy S. Discaya-Garma)