When Roderic Almeda was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he thought it best to shift from being a personal driver to taxi driver.
With his medication and family, Roderic thought he needed more than what he was earning to survive.
He and his wife Melody, a massage therapist, have children from previous marriages: He has three, she has one. Aside from the children, they also care for their parents.
To help augment their income, they thought of making achara and selling it.
Roderic had learned the recipe from his parents, Rodolfo III and Neri. His family owned an eatery called Almeda across Bintawan Elementary school in Villa Verde, Nueva Vizcaya.
With a capital of P500 from Melody’s massage earnings, they produced 21 bottles of achara in 2014.
Melody remembered her first sale and how clients started patronizing their homemade achara. The original P500 investment yielded a P2,100 gross income.
Confident that the product was good enough, Roderic brought bottles to work (that is, to his cab) and sold them to passengers. He would begin his spiel by asking passengers if they ate achara. When they said yes, he would offer it.
He owed the success of his business to a passenger named Cecille Olipas, who after tasting it, started buying 30 bottles a week. Business was brisk until Cecille (whose steady orders provided stability to their business) took a job overseas.
From their separate incomes and the achara sales, the couple gradually fixed their house. They added a second floor and finally fixed their roof that was made of tarpaulin and tattered galvanized sheets.
Melody and Roderic also ventured into making peanut butter. The idea came when they spotted a peanut grinder while buying bottles for their pickled green papaya.
After a couple of experiments, they produced the peanut butter to their liking, made from pure peanuts.
Many prodded Roderic to put a label on it but, given his tight work schedule, he wasn’t able to do so.
Fortunately, even without a label, the peanut butter sold well. Sales helped them to build a house.
It was at this time that Melody fervently prayed for a child but, at 42, she knew getting pregnant was risky.
But it was an answered prayer. Roderic Junior “RJ,” was born Oct. 25, 2015. But sadly, the baby suffered from sepsis and had to be confined at the ICU for 17 days.
The couple persevered through an emotionally and financially difficult time.
The Almedas vividly remember April 8, 2016, the day RJ was diagnosed with primary complex. It was the same day his pediatrician penned a lengthy prescription that his parents could not afford.
But God came to their rescue.
On April 9, Troy Sitosta, a creative director and graphic designer, found his way to Roderic’s cab.
As usual, the driver performed his routine, offered the passenger his homemade peanut butter. And the passenger, like many before him, noticed that the product was missing a label.
Troy proposed to make the labels for Roderic, free of charge.
True to his word, on April 11, Sitosta called in an order of 20 bottles of peanut butter and attached to them the labels he himself designed. He posted photos of these on Facebook.
RJ’s Peanut Butter was born!
Within a few hours of the FB post, the Almedas became instant celebrities. Their phone filled up with orders.
Their earnings were enough to buy the medicines RJ badly needed.
Troy even created a sign to hang behind the driver’s seat for all passengers to see.
It reads: “NUT just a taxi driver, NUT just a real fighter and NUT just a father. I also make great homemade peanut butter! RJ’s All Natural Peanut Butter—Ask About It!”
Roderic said his experience showed that people, like Troy Sitosta and passengers, are always willing to help.
“Our story is a testimony to God’s faithfulness,” Melody said. “He answers prayers, even if we are not worthy. In our brokenness, He is there.”
They’re thankful to God for giving them RJ. “Even if he is sick, it is the Lord who makes a way,” they said. “Napakabait ng Diyos, punung-puno kami ng biyaya.”
For peanut butter and achara orders, call 0915-6423958.