Monday, June 28, 2010

Rowena's Tarts

The first time I stepped foot at Rowena's .....

me and Bugsy -- Rowena's shih tzu.

.... was the exact same moment I promised that  I will gift myself a shih tzu someday.  That was around seven years ago, still single, with short hair, beads  nonexistent ..... and  when the murmur about Rowena's special tarts have only just begun to spread.

Fast forward to present times.  Though  the promise of a gift to myself still remains to be a plan, I am now happily married, with shoulder-length hair regularly styled in a ponytail, beads treated as if these were gold ..... and Rowena's have strongly built its  presence as a 10-year old tourist destination in Tagaytay for its popular and much talked-about tarts, pies, jams, Philippine-made delicacies, coffee and many more.

View of Ilog Maria's honey bee farm from the store.

Yesterday, my ex-work colleagues and I materialized a two weeks ago plan to visit Ilog Maria for the purpose of replenishing our all-natural healing honey soaps and energy booster bee propolis.  So, off we went to Cavite amidst a gloomy sky on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  With a 45-minute travel from our meeting place, we finished our shopping escapade in a span of 15 minutes.  That was how well-planned we were even with a really long shopping list :)

Just like in our frequent meet-ups, a day or a night won't pass by without having satisfied our addiction for  caffeine.   Faced with a request for a "unique" coffee-shop in Tagaytay (approximately 15 minutes away from Ilog Maria), I gamely suggested to the group a coffee-art nook that J. Bond and I discovered a year before we wed in 2006.  With Java Jazz set in our minds and with a nostalgic-romantic mood which I eagerly wanted to express to my friends for the first time, we landed in Rowena's instead. 

Family and friends know for a fact that Tagaytay is my 2nd home.  But for the first time ever, I was faced with bad traffic  in my "wish-to-be" permanent (retirement) residence address.  Thus, pretty much explains the change of venue and the postponement of the rendezvous.

Located at #152 Bgy Francisco, Tagaytay City.
Photo courtesy of Rowena's.

Seven years ago, the time I first met Ms. Rowena and her shih tzu Bugsy, Rowena's was still then  a quaint, approximately 30 square meter store, that introduced mini-sized tarts offered in various flavors such as Buko, Mango, Apple, Ube and Pineapple.  Good feedback were thrown my way by those who have tasted these special tarts that were first sold or sampled for free at Training Centers in Tagaytay.  At that time, I was given the assignment to invite Rowena's to explore a possible space for a soon-to-rise mall in Taguig.

She said NO.  That then started my "affair" with Ms. Rowena.  A NO to my 1st attempt and a crashing NO to my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th attempts.  A decisive plan to stay put, sell and expand in Tagaytay (not Manila nor even nearby towns) was the only thing she had in mind.  Flowery sales-talk, the promise of an urbanized development and leisure lifestyle were all of no use.  She was firm.

Rowena's famous apple tart. 
Top it with Vanilla ice-cream, then hola! -- Apple pie ala-mode.
Photo courtesy of Rowena's.

Despite the thumbs down, Rowena's became a part of my route each time I traverse the relaxing and lush paths of Tagaytay.  I buy buko and apple tarts, fish crackers and nuts.  I also make sure to check on Bugsy and have a chat with Ms. Rowena and her staff.  A routine that Ms. Rowena have grown so accustomed to, that days after the wedding she gave J. Bond and I boxes of brownies as her wedding gift.

At Rowena's last year with Dad 2.

The familiarity (of me, J. Bond, including my family and friends) due to frequent visits, I assume, led her to finally saying YES one glorious day  last year.  On my 1st attempt to invite Rowena's to be part of a one day weekend market in a nearby land development, she instantly gave me her sweet yes.  Absolutely a triumphant moment after seven long years.

Rowena's booth at the the Nuvali Weekend Market in May 2009.

Transactions, meet-ups and discussions have always been business-related.  I have never seen the personal side of Ms. Rowena in my years of "attempts".  Until yesterday afternoon came along.   

We were greeted by a more than usual huge shopping crowd and a car/tourist bus/jeepney packed parking lot upon arriving Rowena's around 3:30pm in the afternoon.  The  selling area (less the kitchen) now occupies an approximate of 60-70 square meters, with an outdoor dining area, and a yet being constructed private function facility for future use.  Long lines of customers waited to be served with their take-home orders, with Ms. Rowena right smack at the middle of this busy scene.  The store have ran out of tarts at this time due to the large demand, and thus, customers have settled for buko pies and cassava cakes instead.  On the other side of the fence was their dining area.  A relaxing outdoor ambiance that surely added delight and ultimate satisfaction to our caffeine craving.

Dine-in menu of Rowena's

Amidst a combination of patient and demanding for quick service customers, I realized that Ms. Rowena was right all along in saying NO.  For it is in Tagaytay where Rowena's begun.  For it is in Tagaytay where that "tart" mark was built.  For it is in the fun and thrilling travel to Tagaytay where one could find Rowena's and bring back home special made delicacies. 

For it is in Tagaytay where the prayer of Ms. Rowena was answered.

Personalized service by Ms. Rowena.  

After seven years, I saw a glimpse of Ms. Rowena's personal side when she joined in our relaxing coffee fix with a cassava cake that she gave to the group for free. Hardworking but knows how to reward herself (ooh! is all I can say).  Mother of one.  Wife to a business man.  Family-oriented.  Dog lover. Giving. God-fearing. 

With almost an hour of this getting-to-know-you-better chat, I asked  towards the end how Rowena's came to mind.  She said ... I prayed.  I prayed for a business that will help support my mother in her old age. And I was blessed by God with thisRowena's is my means of giving back ....

Thank you for sharing Bugsy and your stories with me (and the group), Ms. Rowena.  May you be blessed with many more tarts.


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