The Big Tale of Little Quiapo


Every person in our lives has a backstory, how we met, where we met, and how long we’ve known each other. Some stories are generic: common friends, former friends, a colleague, and so on. However, some stories are quirky and always a joy to share. One particular story I enjoy telling is how I met one of my oldest friends, Miggy Bartolome Caleon. Miggy and I met in 2002 through a common friend, Daisy Castelar, when he was a freshman in De La Salle Zobel and I was a sophomore in another school. It was the age of ‘texting’ and one of the ‘in things’ that kids did those days was texting someone from another school. This was way before Friendster or MySpace, so Miggy and I became friends even before we knew what each other looked like. We managed to stay in touch all these years but only ‘met in person’ this year because we unknowingly went to the same gym.
Miggy and I finally got the chance to catch up on our “adult lives” a few weeks ago and I was surprised to know that Miggy, who part of the Strategic Marketing group at Solaire Resort and Casino decided to forego working for the family business to gain experience and make a name for himself.
Miggy’s family owns the famed Little Quiapo restaurant, one of the most liked Filipino restaurants in the metro today. He recalls the story of how his maternal grandfather started the business, “The business started in 1949, my lolo was originally an ice cream vendor. He was going to hospitals to sell his homemade ice cream and when he was able to save enough money, he set up a branch in UP Diliman.” As a quick trivia, Little Quiapo never had a branch in Quiapo and was in fact originally named Rendezvous but was changed to Little Quiapo as a reference to how busy the restaurant was just like the famed Quiapo in Manila. Branches however in highly populated areas soon opened and that was the beginning of the success the very Pinoy restaurant famous for their pancit and halo halo.
Despite the success of Little Quiapo, now managed by Miggy’s parents and his mom’s siblings, Miggy, a graduate of Business Management from the Ateneo De Manila University chose to forge his own path in the hotel industry, “For most people with family businesses, they tend to rely on the business) but growing up we’ve always been exposed to being responsible. Working outside gives us a better understanding of how to deal with customers, and how to run business from another perspective.”
Miggy attributes his hardworking ways to the way his parents trained him growing up, having to work during the summer for allowances beginning with small tasks for the business until they were given bigger responsibilities as they grew older. He even attended culinary school in Ramon Magsaysay Institute to gain better knowledge of how the kitchen works which helped him as he began handling the catering side of the business two years ago. Lately, Miggy and his two younger siblings have also added the needed vibe to attract the younger set.

For Miggy, taking over is inevitable but for him, being ready for it by gaining experience is just as vital. In a world where the entitled easily get their way, it’s refreshing to see people like Miggy who truly work hard and don’t simply take what they were born for. It’s people like him who truly make all the difference.