BAC NINH, Vietnam – Unknown to many people, one of the top selling food brands in Vietnam is manufactured by a Filipino company.
Oishi sounds good in Japanese but the brand is probably the leading Filipino export to Hanoi and Vietnam.
The popular brand which manufactures 23 brands in a 4.8 hectare factory is a snack-based company under the Liwayway Company Holdings Limited.
The company owned by the family of Ambassador Carlos Chan has its home base in Pasay City. Chan was special envoy of the Philippines to China during the Arroyo administration.
Liwayway started as a corn-repacking business in the post-war years. The name,
which means means dawn in Tagalog, was chosen to reflect the hope and optimism of post-war Manila.
The factory in Bac Ninh, an industrial district between 45 minutes to an hour by car from Hanoi, is Oishi’s fourth in Vietnam.
According to Marc Vincent Tandoc, Oishi’s plant director in Bac Ninh, the factory became operational in 2010 and now employs about 1,297 workers.
It is the only food brand in an industrial district which is dominated by electronic companies.
“The other food manufacturing companies are located in another district,” Tandoc revealed.
Bac Ninh churns out between 50,000 to 60,000 boxes a day of the 23 Oishi brands.
“The top-selling products are Pumpkin Chips, Sweet Corn Puff, Crab Me and Onion Rings,” Tandoc said in an interview at his office.
He also revealed that two Oishi products, Tater Barbecue Snack and Pizza Square, are exclusively produced by the Bac Ninh plant.
Tandoc, a graduate of Manila’s Chiang Kai Shek College, is one of only nine Filipinos in the Bac Ninh facility.
Just more than a year old at the helm, Tandoc said he did not find it hard to adjust to life in Vietnam.
“It’s peaceful here,” the 26-year-old top honcho explained, pointing out the obvious.
Three other Filipinos who agreed to be interviewed made the same observations.
Jomar Padon, a resident of Cavite, said that except for the loneliness for a wife and son he left back in the Philippines, he sees no reason to complain with his life in Vietnam.
“The company provides for practically all our needs so it is a big improvement to life in the Philippines,” he added.
Susie Rebates, a native of Albay, agrees.
“Tahimik dito (It’s peaceful here),” she said, unlike the disturbing news in the Philippines she sees on TV.
While she hopes to return to the Philippines one day, Jeremie Molina has adjusted well to life in Bac Ninh.
A native of Cavite, she said their hosts have been very kind to them.
“You cannot say anything against them,” she added.
Told that President Rodrigo Duterte was visiting Hanoi in two days, all four said it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet him.
“Sana pupunta sya dito (Hopefully he can come here),” Rebates said, unable to hide the excitement in her voice.
The others smiled in agreement.
It would be a good idea for Duterte to meet with the people behind the Philippines’ biggest export in Hanoi.
With the rising optimism for more cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam, it is difficult to miss the Oishi facility in Bac Ninh as a microcosm of
that emerging partnership.