In the Philippines, calamansi juice is a staple beverage. It is refreshing and flavorful, and it’s packed with Vitamin C — making it a great choice for boosting your immune system. It’s the kind of thing that would be in demand during a health crisis. Owing to its popularity and the partial palate of Filipinos to calamansi juice, it has been the banner product of RJH Food Products.

RJH Food Products has been producing quality calamansi juice for over 30 years, and while it closed down at some point, its founders’ family members would not give up on it. This is the inspiring story of how one company became a family’s legacy.

Fruitful Beginnings

Rem Floyd Herceda is the current owner of RJH Food Products in General Santos City. His family is known for its juice brand — the REMA House of Calamansi. The business was originally established by his grandmother, Emma “Mommy Ems” Herceda” in 1983.

The brand REMA is the combination of his grandparents’ names: RE from Remberto and MA from Emma. Sadly, Mommy Ems failing health caused her to stop the business in 2005. As the eldest grandchild and having seen the great potential of the calamansi juice business, Rem revived his grandmother’s business right after he finished his studies in 2010.

With a starting capital of just five hundred pesos, Rem started his business using the REMA name as a banner brand. As an amateur entrepreneur, he juggled his time managing his business and working as a job order government employee. His officemates then were among his first clients who loved his calamansi concoction.

A Sweet Turnaround with the Help of DTI

The business was not an overnight success. In fact, it took a lot of hard work, dedication, and tenacity to get where they are today.

Having undergone the Assessment, Consultation, and Triage (ACT) session under the One Town, One Product (OTOP) program of

the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Rem maximized all the possible assistance of the program to improve his product and enhance his business operations.

Rem was among the first batch of Region 12’s mentees of the Kapatid Mentor ME program when it was rolled out in 2016. The training assistance and the marketing exposure given by DTI were of great help as REMA was able to penetrate the bigger market.

This entrepreneur also participated in several local, regional, and national trade fairs. In fact, among the prestigious trade fairs he has attended were the International Food Expo (IFEX) and the National Food Fair. Having been identified as among the successful home-grown entrepreneurs in General Santos City, Rem was given several recognitions for his outstanding product and promising business.

He was also entrusted with the operations of the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Hub in one of the major malls in the city.

Through the OTOP Hub, developed and market-ready products of DTI-assisted Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are displayed and marketed as premium pasalubong products.

Calamansi Juice as a Way to Fight Off COVID-19

Like any successful entrepreneur, Rem has also gone through difficult times. One of the hurdles he encountered was the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the crisis, he was faced with

the dilemma of whether to continue or close his business. They observed that the OTOP Hub customers were dwindling one by one because of the lockdown.

With a heavy heart, Rem decided to stop the OTOP Hubs’ operation. While the hub was not operational, Rem devoted his time and energy to his first passion — calamansi juice production.

People were wary about their health at that time; after all, the COVID-19 virus’s effect seems to be heavier on those with weak immune systems. As such, the demand for immunity-boosting food and drinks, such as calamansi juice, was high. Rem took this as an opportunity to pivot his business and expand his market.

“When there is a problem like this pandemic, there is always an opportunity disguised as a solution.”

People then started to patronize their products more because of the nutritional benefits that calamansi juice can bring. True enough, with the power of the mighty Vitamin C, RJH Food Products’ production and market distribution expanded throughout the different areas in Mindanao.

To give back to the community who has been avidly supporting their product, Rem donated calamansi juice to frontliners, especially in the hospitals, border patrols, and other frontline government offices.

Moving Forward from the Pandemic

In March of 2021, Rem reopened the OTOP Hub. The business has been smooth sailing ever since. The pandemic may have brought with it a multitude of problems, but it has also tested the perseverance and fortitude of many businesses, including Rem’s.

According to him, problems are inevitable when you are in the business, be it with people, products, or marketing strategy; it is part of your life. What is important is your ability to be flexible when the situation calls for it.

Rem Floyd Herceda’s advice to all entrepreneurs is to trust and fear God, take calculated risks and always persevere.

“When there is a problem like this pandemic, there is always an opportunity disguised as a solution,” he added.

No truer words were ever spoken. ♦