Pan de sal is served in the Spratlys
Business is brisk at Pag-Asa Bakery and Café.
The new “establishment” is actually an open hut, fronting the white-sand beach of Pag-Asa Island, the center of the Philippines’ claimed area in the disputed Spratlys Island Group in the South China Sea.
But in terms of customers, it does not have any competition.
The Philippine Star reported that the café started serving pan de sal and other breads and coffee to the island’s 200-member population, which includes soldiers deployed in the island, last week.
The Star, quoting owner and operator Mary Joy Gilbuena Batiancilla, said prior to the bakery’s opening, Pag-Asa’s residents only got to eat bread when they are on the mainland, referring to the nearest island of Palawan.
Batiancilla makes 200 to 300 pieces of bread from an oven fashioned out of a used drum. Pan de sal is priced at P3 each. She also sells ensaymada and pan de coco.
She said she plans to acquire a bakery helper, an electric flour mixer, and a real oven to raise bread production to 600-800 pieces. She’d also love an automatic coffee mixer.
The Star said Batiancilla’s plan would be quite a challenge, since supplies come through military or civilian boats, or by air. Electric power only runs in the island during the evening until midnight.