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There are so many things we can do with bamboo. From its humble beginning as a lumber of choice for the bahay kubo to a survival caldero for young Filipino scouts, we now find it as an instant solution for our plastic problems. These days, many sustainable brands are creating ethical merchandise out of it. Toothbrushes, tumblers, textiles, bikes, you name it. We are still continuing to discover more of what bamboo has to offer.

Among the many local brands benefiting from the gifts given by the bamboo is Darling’s Milktea. Located at Maasin City in Iloilo, the milk tea brand, just like its competitors, serves authentic brew and chilled tea with milk. What makes its drinks special is that they are served in neat bamboo cups. 

As more and more Filipinos dabble in food businesses, it is becoming pretty tough for entrepreneurs to get their product in the spotlight. But Jade Joquiño and Melanie Dilao, 24 and 23 years old, have found their niche not by producing trendy food and other food gimmicks, but by helping their fellow business owners.

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Melanie Dilao and Jade Joquiño

“We aim to promote bamboo products as what Maasin City is known for,” Melanie says. “We also want to help fellow Maasinanons to have a means of livelihood and to inspire young entrepreneurs to adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly business.”

The couple used to work in Thailand as teachers. But since they could not return to the country for work due to the coronavirus, they decided to put up a brand last July. And just like many businesses, they struggled with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

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“Promoting our product and making it known to people during that time was very challenging,” Melanie tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “But on our first day, when we posted the details on our Facebook page, people became interested about the idea of having milk tea in bamboo cups.”

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Now with a second branch in Mohon Terminal Talipapa Market, Darling’s Milktea is serving its “drinks in bamboo” experience to a larger Ilonggo market. 

“Customers find it very innovative and unique since it’s the first milk tea served in bamboo in Iloilo,” she says. 

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But apart from its brew products, the brand’s core lies in promoting local products not only to customers, but to other enterprises. Jade and Melanie advise fellow merchants to take a chance on making business partnerships, discover what others have, and offer them a helping hand.

“Business owners need to help one another especially in this difficult time, not just to generate income but to uplift other businesses,” Melanie says. “By supporting and buying local products, we don’t just help local entrepreneurs, it is also a way for us to show our pride and love for Filipino creations.”

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