Rose prefers Peaches & Apples
Writer: Lin Zhen Yuan
Published: Fri, 22 Mar 2013
GROWING up on Cebu island must be an interesting experience. It is one of the 168 islands that make up Cebu Province which is part of the Philippines.
Four dishes from the wide selection are adequate for a party of four.
The capital, Cebu City, is the oldest city in the Philippines where the majority are Roman Catholics.
Rosemarie Molina is one of its 4.2 million citizens (2010 statistics).
Rosemarie grew up knowing little about the world outside her country.
Later in adulthood, she graduated with a Masters degree in English Literature.
Marriage soon followed. Before long, she became the mother of three children.
Like many others who had the privilege of post-graduate qualifications, Rose took up teaching.
She taught for about 10 years.
Somehow, some way along her life’s journey, her marriage turned sour. Much unhappiness set in. Rose doesn’t like to dwell on those memories.
She only knew she must get out of that rut she found herself in.
“There were jobs, of course,” said Rose, “but many of the occupations have low salaries.”
Finally, in a fit of desperation, Rose made up her mind to leave the country. Malaysia seemed a good destination then.
“I didn’t care even if I had to be a maid,” said Rose. “I was ready to make the change.”
With a failed marriage and great burden of unhappiness in her heart, Rose decided to pack her bags and leave for “greener pastures”.
That was eight years ago.
She came alone, without her children. It wouldn’t be practical since she began her new life as a dishwasher at an eatery in Kuala Lumpur.
Because of her diligence, intelligence and a bit of luck, she soon became a bartender.
Life was naturally difficult at first. One day her boss asked if she was tired because of the long hours.
Rose then already savvy with city living responded to her boss’ query: “Of course, I am tired but this is work.”
Any boss would be impressed with such a reply and probably be sympathetic too.
Years later, Rosemarie Molina, an offspring of a Spanish father and Filipino mother, thought it was time she became her own boss.
Rose and her workers catering to some customers.
She was thinking big but she started small.
Kota Raya shopping complex, which is opposite Petaling Street or Chinatown, seemed like a good location for a small business.
Besides, there was a small thriving Filipino community in that complex.
Today, close to 10 years after her arrival in Malaysia, Rose manages four businesses - the latest being Peaches N Apples Café where it is “truly the taste of Philippines”.
The other three companies are a boutique, hair-styling studio and a Pinoy dealership.
Peaches N Apples has been operating on the third floor of Kota Raya for less than a year.
The café is usually crowded during weekends, especially on Sundays.
Rose is undoubtedly a great cook.
The Filipino culinary selections at the food counter number more than 15.
Since she now has more responsibilities as a manager and boss of a few companies, she prefers to supervise the two cooks in the kitchen. Her cooks start work at 5am. But Rose still has to do the marketing every other day.
Her search for ingredients and other supplies takes her as far as Selayang Baru and other hypermarkets where she knows she can get value for money for the items that she needs.
Being a Cebu citizen and having a Spanish father has given the pretty 40-something an added advantage. Seriously though, she looks like she is in her 30s.
Rose not only speaks English very well, she can hold a conversation in Spanish, Tagalog and Cebuano, the native tongue of Cebu.
Peaches N Apples is clean, spacious, well ventilated and brightly lit. It is open from 10am to 8pm and operates daily.
Since business has really taken off, Rose’s younger brother is now helping to run one of her businesses in Kota Raya
When I was at Rose’s café, a member of our party recognised her favourite Filipino dessert called Leche Flan.
Leche Flan is a creamy custard which is heavily laden with caramelised sugar.
One bite of this dessert of Spanish origin which consists of evaporated and condensed milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla, you will be hooked.
As if the Leche Flan was not fattening enough, our two-time visitor to the Philippines decided to order the Halo-Halo dessert as well. Halo-Halo is another popular Filipino item comprising shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, jackfruit, nata de coco and sometimes tapioca.
Connoisseurs of this dessert describe it as “quickfire dish” because it tends to create instant salivating.
Depending on what you prefer, the Tokwat Baboy, Adobo and the Pinoy lunch specials at Peaches N Apples Café are not bad at all, if you catch my drift.
Since this is a true-blue Filipino eatery, pork is very much part of its menu. Thus, it is a non-halal establishment.
There were several beef and salt vegetable dishes that reminded me very much of some Chinese cuisine.
I suppose cultural influences through the centuries have left traces of other ethnic influences on Filipino food.
Meanwhile, Rose is confident that life has been good to her. However, she is also a pragmatist because she knows there will always be challenges.
“Whenever, problems crop up, I pray that I may overcome them,” said Rose whose Catholic upbringing has helped to cushion those unexpected setbacks that show up now and then.
There’s a certain fire in Rosemarie Molina’s eyes.
Her speech and demeanour reveal a strong heart and a resilience that has held her in good stead for years.
Her relentless pursuit of excellence in her life has erased those old sad and bad memories.
It would be safe to assume that Rose subscribes to this axiom. In Tagalog, it says: “kapag pagpunta nakakakuha ng matigas ang matigas ay makakakuha ng pagpunta” (when the going gets tough, the tough get going).
Right now, Rose has probably internalised that credo and she lives it every day.