“My three siblings and I shared a room with my uncles and aunts. We were 12 in all, in a room that doubled as dining room.”
That is Carlos Aguila telling his story. He is the founder and president of PL Aguila Manufacturing Inc.
“My father, Pablo Aguila, worked so hard to send us to school.”
The climb began in 1971, when Pablo invested P60,000 in machines from Germany.
He produced ham, bacon, longganisa, hotdogs and assorted cold cuts, and sold these in his Agora market stall in San Juan.
Straight out of school and unable to get a job, Carlos was hired by his father, with a P400 monthly pay.
The meat processing facility was not a huge operation. Located behind the Aguila family home, it was 150 square meters, with a staff of three—Carlos, Felix Calamba and Lando Abaigar, who are both still working the machines and making delicious corned beef.
Carlos, however, had dreams of his own. On top of the list was the desire to earn more than his wife, Mercedes Shotwell Aguila, whose monthly pay was P3,000, and to put up his own factory.
Using a bank loan, he made and canned sardines, supplying supermarkets. The factory would close after a few years amid fierce competition. The Agora public market also burned down and the meat processing ceased operations.
Carlos then went into the production of banana chips, lechon sauce, banana ketchup and fruit preserves—again with little success.
In 1987, he set up a juice manufacturing plant using his own savings. With the help of Bill Stelton and Norman Groth, Jubilee Orange was endorsed to him, and Aguila started to supply international fast food chains.
The good times rolled in until the same companies stopped buying the concentrates from him and once more, Carlos found himself having to start over.
To stay in business, he decided to focus on the production of local juices. This was the beginning of Golden A Juice Concentrates.
Finally, the sun shone bright for Carlos.
In 2003, when his daughter, Margie, graduated, father and daughter revived the meat processing plant, buying the old equipment from Pablo.
It was a tough journey for Carlos who endured a series of trials: paying off big loans, problems with cash flow, losing customers and even battling a serious illness.
Through the hard times, he persevered. Not once did his desire to be successful waver.
Tatay constantly reminded him “to keep dreaming, dream everyday, and it will be yours.”
What was once a backyard operation with three employees for the meats, and four employees for the juices now employs a workforce of 105.
PL Aguila has become a leading supplier in the food service industry and takes pride in being a family-owned business.
From humble beginnings, the “eagle” has soared!
Carlos is now content, semi-retired and earning more than his wife.
I was drawn to their slab bacon, corned beef and processed meats. I like how each bite has a homemade, “made in small batches” feel to it. Mild and pleasant to my palate.
Their products are made from 100-percent choice cut meats with no extenders. The spices used for their cured hams, bacon and sausages are blended in-house and naturally smoked over hardwood chips.
The Aguilas share their very practical everyday recipes.
Thick bacon carbonara
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped thick cut
4 tbsp flour
3 c chicken stock
4 tbsp cooking cream
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
¼ c each sliced mushrooms and green peas
400 g fettuccine noodles, cooked
Saute bacon in butter until brown
Add flour and mix well
Add stock, cream, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and green peas. Cook until sauce thickens
Add or top pasta in sauce
Garnish with more cheese and parsley
‘Longganisa’ fried rice
2 tbsp oil
100 g longganisa, casing removed
1 tbsp onions, chopped
1 tbsp carrots, chopped
½ c lettuce, shredded
1 ½ c cooked rice
1 tbsp each liquid seasoning and soy sauce
1 piece salted egg
2 tbsp spring onions, chopped
Saute longganisa in oil until brown but not dry
Add onions, carrot and lettuce
Mix in rice, soy sauce and seasoning
Garnish with chopped salted egg and spring onions
Aguila Gourmet Meats are available in select supermarkets. Visit aguilamfg.com.