Peanut Gang

Assorted nuts from Shiena’s Homemade Products

Life can get a bit nuts from time to time. And though many of us would agree from a figurative standpoint, for registered nurse-turned-entrepreneur extraordinaire, Sheina Mae Becaro Pobleto, this statement is as literal as it gets.

Growing up with a sister and five brothers while being raised by hardworking parents who owned a modest sidewalk peanut stall, Shiena’s childhood consisted of more work and less play. Spending a chunk of her younger years manning their stall along the intersection of Araneta and Luzuriaga streets in Bacolod City meant missing out on the usual mall hangouts with schoolmates. Yet, she and her siblings understood what it took to ease the burden off their parents who were doing all they could to put seven children to school. Their sacrifice eventually paid off as their humble business produced a college degree for each of the Becaro siblings.

Proud owner, Shiena Mae Becaro Pobleto with her source of livelihood.

Shiena graduated as a nurse and started work fervently, taking on many shifts in various hospitals and health institutions around the city. Though the hours were grueling, landing her dream job and looking forward to a hopeful future all made up for it. A few years later, the dream was just about to get better.

Shiena fell in love with, and eventually married Joven Pobleto, and soon had their first daughter. The child was born with a double cleft-palate condition that required more care and attention during the developmental years. Being no stranger to life’s curveballs, Shiena took on the herculean task of working as a nurse while nursing her own child upon getting home, all the while selling packed peanuts to everyone she comes across.

Variety of nuts offered by Shiena’s Homemade Products

Seeing how she’s worked practically her entire life, the question of sustainability loomed over Shiena. There had to be a better way to make more time for her family while earning more. After planning it out with her husband, Shiena gave up being a nurse to take the leap into her first entrepreneurial endeavour, selling packed peanuts. It was such a nutty idea, but nutty enough that it just might work.

The Pobletos were both nervous and excited when they opened Shiena’s Peanut Products, with Shiena supervising the cooking while Joven handled the packaging process. Starting small, they used all of Shiena’s experience and connections, eventually finding traction in the reputation they were building for the quality of their products.

Masskara 2022 Trade Fair held at SM City Bacolod in October 2022.

In 2009, Shiena and her husband joined the Association of Negros Producers, hoping to take their products to the next level. The ANP is known to elevate the quality of local businesses by helping small and medium enterprises develop and market their products nationally. Shiena initially had reservations but looking back now, it was her best decision to date. ANP members welcomed her with open arms and drew inspiration from her story. With help from the organization, her products made their way from street stalls to malls, restaurants, and tourist gift shops all over the province. Shiena also became a regular participant in the ANP’s annual trade fair in Manila.

Shiena’s Homemade Products took part in the Masskara 2022 Trade Fair held at SM City Bacolod.

Expanding her product line from baked and skinless, to sugarcoated peanuts, all the way to making her brand of creamy and crunchy peanut butter, Shiena felt more prepared going into the Negros Trade Fair in September 2022. The outcome felt surreal to Shiena and Joven. They closed out the event not only by tallying one of the highest sales among exhibitors, but also went home with a multi-million-peso deal from a company eager to distribute their products.

Shiena and her siblings were all given opportunities through the diligence of their parents. While all seven of them had their stint as professionals, life came full circle as they are now all entrepreneurs in the peanut industry. Shiena and Joven have expanded to producing and packing nearly two tons of nuts per month while still being very hands-on with the operation.

Text By: Mayumi Espina
Photos By: Bem Cortez

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