Mrs. Carmelita Rejano - Reyes, is the owner of Rejano's Bakery located in Barangay Banahaw, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque and Rejano's Food Processing Center in Barangay Lipa, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque. Rejano's Bakery was established by her parents in 1946. Ka Mita, as everybody calls her, was among the siblings who succeeded the business. A BS Chemistry graduate lady succeeded the business without even knowing that she will encounter problems in her endeavor. The production of uraro cookies is inconsistent due to limited supply of arrowroot (Uraro in tagalog) flour and unavailability of the raw materials.
It will take 10 months to grow arrowroot. Ka Mita encourages farmers to plant arrowroot. From the start 25 farmers respond to her to plant. She buys the produced at a reasonable price. With the help of the Department of Agriculture technicians they trained farmers on appropriate methods and new technology in planting arrowroot. Today, 350 farmers are now planting arrowroot plants in the whole province of Marinduque. In this way, according to Mrs. Reyes, her success will also be the success of the farmers in the province. According to her from the farmers produced the farmers' children finished their studies through planting arrowroot. She introduced the mechanization of shredding the arrowroot rhizomes in the province. It took several years before they were able to accept the technology she is introducing to farmers.
Ka Mita also cares for her arrowroot farmers and processors. She continuously advocates on growing the arrowroot organically. The juice from the starch were used in watering arrowroot plant. Ka Mita asks school heads in the province to conduct studies on how to utilize the arrowroot waste products instead of using only for the livestock purposes with these it may become other sources of livelihood by rural folks. This, she said, is one way of helping the farmers alleviate their standard of living. She envisioned that in her success in the arrowroot business, the arrowroot farmers were the one benefited.
Through the years, Ka Mita deals with the different agencies from local to national just to improve her uraro cookies from manual processing of arrowroot flour (traditional uraro processing consumed so much time and energy) up to packaging.
She tapped the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the improvements of packaging materials design for the cookies, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the advancement of machine extractors in separation of arrowroot juice to the pulp up to drying of starch. This is the first uraro processing plant in the country which DOST put-up and the Department of Agriculture (DA) in organizing the Arrowroot Industry Council (AIC) of which Ka Mita is the Chairman from 2002 to present and training the farmers for the new methods in planting and farming arrowroot crops. Arrowroot rhizomes, the raw material for making arrowroot cookies, are processed in the center from washing to drying as complied with the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) standard.
She has outlets of uraro store and in the pasalubong centers (entry and Exit Ports) where stocks are always available in the whole province and also in Manila. Her uraro cookies already reach Saudi Arabia while Singapore is ordering uraro starch.
Ka Mita also joined local agri-exhibits and fairs in the province and even in Manila and acted also as speakers. In joining product exhibits, she found out that she needs improvements in her product. She complied with all that has been told her to accomplish. She even accepts criticisms on how she could improve her business products and even her services to the customers.
Aside from uraro cookies, Ka Mita developed other variants made from arrowroot -uraro with pinipig; chips, pulvoron, torones de uraro, saludsod pancake (uraro starch with egg and tender buko meat). The Rejano's bakery also sells different types of bread. Ka Mita also maintains a restaurant beside the family owned Boac Hotel. She is also an insurance underwriter, wherein she encourages her friend to get insurance for the members of the family and explains what they will benefit from it in the insurance
Busy as a bee in her businesses, Ka Mita has time to be involved in the different community or civic organization like Chairman of Arrowroot Industry Council and Holy Cross Pastoral Council, President on Tourism Council and Marinduque Bakers Association, and Treasurer at Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Sta.Cruz and Girl Scout of the Philippines. Ka Mita built a retreat house wherein everybody can use it. "Minsan nga po libre na place nag-dodonate pa siya para sa foods. Pati yung nag-aaral sa pag-papari o any course, nag bibigay siya ng financial assistance. May time nagugulat na lang si Ka Mita kapag may nagpakilala sa kanya na siya ay nakatapos sa pag-aaral dahil sa tulong nya," said by one of her staff.
Ka Mita also looks after the welfare of her workers. She sends them to school when they wanted to earn degree courses in college while working. And above all, she requires her workers to have an annual retreat/recollection for their spiritual reflections.
As an entrepreneur, Ka Mita was declared as National Winner for the President Ramon Magsaysay Outstanding Filipino Workers and Kabalikat awards for Self-Employed category by TESDA last August 2008 during their 14th year anniversary.
"I want na pag sinabing uraro cookies Marinduque ito," said by Ka Mita.
An industrious lady, a lady with a golden heart and an entrepreneur that is Ka Mita.###Clariza M. San Felipe & Susan Bonode)