BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Yasmin Pascual-Dormido is a big name in the local broadcasting industry.
Tall, with a regal, standoffish beauty, Yasmin is a more-than-familiar sight on primetime TV, one of the senior reporters of the biggest media network in the country.
Opinionated, strong-willed, and distractingly pretty, Yasmin had the best of both worlds: TWO burgeoning careers (as broadcaster of ABS-CBN, and as an academician teaching university college students), happily married, with two lovely girls who are growing up to be just like mom.
The world is, proverbially, hers for the taking. Life is good.
And then a major setback.
Congress – which may or may not be acting under the behest of somebody in the Palace – decided not to grant the franchise to the biggest network in the country. Suddenly, the 11,000- plus workers – Yasmin and colleagues include – are out of a job.
And there is no worse time to be out of a job, too, with a raging pandemic that has thrown businesses out of the loop, the closure of ABS-CBN merely added to the growing number of the unemployed, depriving thousands of their purchasing powers.
Yasmin took the time to absorb the dismal news. Her co-employees were reeling; some had taken to social media to vent their disappointment, their frustration, because the least Congress could have done was WAIT, wait for the pandemic to be over or at least.
Yasmin proves she is made from sterner stuff.
She shook off the bad news, like a duck shaking off water. She had planned for the inevitable. After all, she has had enough dignity NOT to rely on doleouts.
“I have always been a believer in multiple streams of income… [I have learned not to be] dependent on just one so you have a fall back option just in case something goes wrong,” she tells DNX.
So she says, why not use the skills she learned in the culinary arts?
Hobby became business, and so Li’l Bella was born, named after her second daughter who apparently shares her love for all thing flours, and measuring cups, and mixers.
So Yasmin retired her mics, and took out her rolling pins, her mixing bowls, her measuring spoons and cups, and went to [baking] business.
STARTING ‘EM YOUNG
“I have been cooking since I was 9 at home. My dad was a Kapampangan and was a very good cook. My mother is from Iloilo and also is good in the kitchen,” Yasmin says when asked how young she started.
Having both parents as cooks have rubbed off on her, she admits.
Plus she gets to have the pleasure of not just eating, but also actually helping out.
“I did the marketing and cooking at home when I was young until I grew up. So I experimented on a lot of food,” she says.
Apan-apan, a kind of vegetable adobo, is one of her specialties.
“My dad called me the magician because he said I could whip up something delicious even if I never had the complete ingredients. Like I’d cook apan-apan with only vinegar, oil, garlic and salt. No guinamos (native bagoong) because… I am allergic to shellfish and crustaceans,” she relates.
Her first masterpiece, though, was fish tinola.
“I didn’t know the procedure,” she admits. That did not deter her. She improvised by sautéing the fish first, before pouring in the water for the broth.
That first attempt – and the propensity to improvise with the barest of ingredients – had led to more dishes: pork sinigang, beef linaga, Spanish sardines pasta with salted egg (this writer’s favourite), Italian vegeroni pasta, chicken curry, chicken pork adobo, kare-kare. And more.
And not just savory dishes.
She bakes, too.
PUT SOME FLOUR, EGGS, AND A CUP OF SUGAR
Yasmin’s love affair with rising agents, and flour, and butter came later, during high school.
Her first confection, she said, was drop cookies before she moved on to making ensaymada, pandesal, and cakes.
Her entrepreneurial skills started in her elementary days when she did what most cash-strapped students did at that time: sell delicate sweets like yema, polvoron, and pastillas. Brownie points (pun intended) for her because she did the production herself.
She would also hawk her sister-in-law’s cooking at a nearby construction site, as well as peddle guavas freshly-harvested from the 200-odd trees her father owned.
Her cooking skills and her entrepreneurial side met now that she is forced out of her job. It helps that she absolutely LOVES what she is doing.
Yasmin, after all, grew up watching shows like Wok With Yan, and idolizes Anthony Bourdain. She even remembers watching Del Monte Kitchenomics as a kid, and taking to heart the dishes concocted by the host on TV.
“I love to cook because it is very therapeutic,” she tells DNX, adding, “It keeps me sane. And I enjoy watching people enjoy what I have cooked for them.”
And with the way things are going now, with orders upon orders coming in, it appears that Yasmin is not about to retire her rolling pin soon.