A couple of ideas in life and business

“A Couple” of Ideas in Life and Business

Published in Roots and Wings Magazine | October-November 2021 Issue | Updated: Dec 2, 2021 | By Mye Mulingtapang 

manong sorbetero filipino ice cream europe ube europe

No Shortcuts

There are many couples who embark on different entrepreneurial adventures especially in the world of small and medium-sized businesses. For some, they are able to make it, and for others, for various reasons, eventually let go of their dream. It is challenging indeed to find that life partner and at the same time, your business partner with the same vision and values as yours.

Take it from Rhea Topacio and Dennis Rogacion, a Pinoy entrepreneurial couple from the Netherlands who tell us that there are no magical shortcuts to success and entrepreneurial achievement, real entrepreneurs who started their businesses in a practical way, working their way up, and providing quality products to their customers in different countries. Their entrepreneurial initiatives as a couple mean a tremendous amount of hard work but in return give them a sense of fulfillment. Their distinctive driving force and love strengthen their synergy as they share life and dreams together.

“The only way to get started is to learn how to do something right, plan well and start working”, said Rhea.


Double the strength

Working in a structured, strategic, and constant way, like true serial entrepreneurs, beyond their own peculiarities and uniqueness, Rhea and Dennis transform ideas into innovations. They keep a common thread in their emotional relationship and innovative entrepreneurship. They are proof that creativity and determination can go a long way. Linked by love and business, the power couple emphasizes that their penchant for ideas and their pursuit leads to the creation of their various products.

The two entrepreneurs began their adventure by producing chocolates and cupcakes but later moved on to creating Filipino products.

luneta ice cream filipino ice cream 2015 europe

In 2015, they created Luneta Ice Cream ®, the first Filipino ice cream brand manufactured in Europe. The brand won Foodtruck of the Year in the ice cream category and Gold Award for service excellence at the NEDERLANDSE HORECA PRIJZEN 2020.

Manong Sorbetero Filipino Ice Cream Buco Pandan and Ube Purpley Yam ICe Cream Filipino Europe

Endless Opportunities

Rhea and Dennis have transformed their bond into a common passion. They enjoy talking about concepts and thinking about how everything will evolve. As entrepreneurs, Dennis believes that even if their hard work is starting to pay off, they still need to learn.

“An entrepreneurial mindset together with a great desire to study, experiment, and grow is what we started with when we were in the first years of our business.”

Rhea believes that entering the food business is, in fact, one of the ways to be successful. Rhea and Dennis created products that were not readily available in Europe before.

“There are favorite Filipino products we couldn’t find here in Europe, so we thought, why not make them ourselves?” said Rhea.

During the pandemic, the couple launched Guapito Beer ®, the first Filipino craft beer in Europe, and Ubeness® Filipino Flavors Collection- a selection of Filipino food flavorings. The flavoring line also includes Buco Pandanness, Mangoness, and Langkaness, available at 20ml and 250ml bottles. In 2021, additional lines of ice cream were launched — Manong Sorbetero Filipino Ice Cream and Miyamoto Japanese Ice Cream.

The free time they had at the beginning was just a hobby which then became a real job and business. Before starting a business, before letting oneself be attracted by the fascinating dream of success, it must first be built according to Rhea. It all started on their kitchen table with commitment and persistence. Over time, their products have managed to conquer the European markets. Their products are sold in different Asian and Filipino stores, stocked in almost 31 countries up and down Europe.

Family legacy

Married for more than a decade, it was their common thirst for independence that prompted them to start a business together. A lifestyle choice that they have never regretted and thanks to which they have progressed at the same pace. Their tandem has allowed them to evolve and grow together in business and as a family.

With the couple’s long-term vision of maintaining the Filipino food legacy, Pamana Foods (a brand of Pamana World) will continuously grow in developing new products and brands with local and international partnerships to promote Filipino taste in Europe. The desire to grow and succeed in another country was so great that there were no excuses, and every obstacle is considered an opportunity.

For them, long-term planning and hard work are still the path to thriving in any endeavor. Every entrepreneur has his own way of doing business, but there is a basic thing that Rhea wants aspiring entrepreneurs to remember –


“You have to start somewhere. Ideas and opportunities don’t materialize out of thin air.”


Pinoy brands Luneta ice cream at Guapito beer namamayagpag sa Netherlands

Pinoy brands Luneta ice cream at Guapito beer namamayagpag sa Netherlands

 by Bernie V. Franco | SEP 28, 2021

A Pinoy couple in the Netherlands developed the first Filipino ice cream and beer in the said country as their way to promote Filipino flavors out of the Philippines. The ice cream is called Luneta, while the beer is called Guapito. Sinubok man ng matinding hamon, nagbubunga na ngayon ang pagtitiyaga ng mag-asawang Pilipino na nakipagsapalaran sa the Netherlands. Meet Rhea Topacio at Dennis Rogacion, ang mag-asawang lumikha ng tatak Pinoy ice cream, flavorings, at beer ay ibinebenta ngayon sa Europa. Si Rhea ay tubong Las Piñas, habang si Dennis ay taga-Pasig (Pasay). Matapos ang first year high school, si Dennis ay pinetisyon ng kanyang amang nasa the Netherlands noong 1993. Ipinagpatuloy roon ni Dennis ang pag-aaral hanggang sa makatapos ng kolehiyo.Si Rhea naman ay nasa marketing industry at kalaunan ay pumunta sa the Netherlands.Taong 2010 nang ikasal sina Dennis at Rhea sa pamamagitan ng civil wedding.Habang may trabaho si Dennis, hindi naman pinalad si Rhea. Kaya after two years matapos ikasal at wala pang work, nag-focus si Rhea sa pagbi-bake na nauwi sa isang income-generating project.

Masayang pagbabahagi ni Rhea, kasama si Dennis, sa episode ng Stories of Hope ng GMA Public Affairs noong September 19, 2021, “Pumatok siya. Mostly ang kliyente namin mga Dutch.”

Pero pagkatapos ng limang taon, itinigil din ito ni Rhea dahil pinasok ng mag-asawa ang paggawa ng Filipino ice cream noong 2015.

Saad ni Dennis, “Naisip namin na wala pang [Pinoy] ice cream dito ever magmula nung napunta ako dito nung ‘93. Never nagkaroon ng ice cream dito na Pinoy.”

Ipinaliwanag ni Rhea kung bakit walang mahahanap na Filipino ice-cream brands doon kahit sa mga Filipino stores.

Sabi niya, “Bawal mag-angkat ng dairy, kasi nasa law iyon. Pinoprotektahan nila yung dairies na dito galing sa the Netherlands.

“So, yung mga Filipino stores, hindi sila puwedeng magkaroon ng dairies, or iyan, mga milk na galing talaga ng Pilipinas.”

Sa pagpasok nila ng ice cream business, “sangkatutak” daw na research ang ginawa nina Rhea at Dennis na kumuha pa ng short courses para sa certification.

Sa loob daw ng isang taon, sa bahay lang nila ginagawa ang kanilang ice cream.

May mga balakid, pero naisulong naman ng mag-asawa ang kanilang business hanggang sa kinailangan na nilang makipag-partner sa isang ice-cream factory nuong 2017.

Kuwento ni Rhea,

“Una naming balakid, siyempre, hindi naman kami mayaman. So, wala kaming pondo. Minsan kulang kami sa oras, kasi may full-time job yung asawa ko. May anak pa kaming maliit. Tapos nung medyo lumaki na, kinailangan na talaga naming ilagay sa factory. Ginagawa namin yung recipes, ‘tapos babantayan ni Dennis habang ginagawa yung ice cream. Mula doon dini-distribute na iyon sa mga tindahan.”

Ang pangalan ng kanilang brand—Luneta Ice Cream.

Ayon kay Rhea, “Kasi gusto namin yung pangalan, narinig mo pa lang…”  Dugtong ni Dennis, “Naiisip mo yung Sunday afternoon sa park noong maliliit tayo.”

Ang best-sellers nila ay ube, pandan, at mango flavors. Nangunguna raw ang ube dahil nami-miss ito ng mga Pinoy roon. Kinagat ng mga Dutch ang ube dahil interesado raw sila sa kulay purple na ice cream. Ani Rhea, “So, gusto nilang malaman bakit ito purple, anong lasa nito. Pag tinikman nila, natutuwa sila,”

Inaangkat naman nila sa Pilipinas ang ube at manga na ginagamit bilang sangkap, habang ang ibang flavors ay available na sa the Netherlands.

Sambit ni Rhea, “Humahabol ang macapuno at kapeng barako.”

Sa kabuuan, nagkaroon ang Luneta Ice Cream ng 13 flavors.


The couple Rhea Topacio and Dennis Rogacion now hold dual citizenship, as Filipino-Dutch.


Pero labis na naapektuhan ang kanilang ice-cream business nang mangyari ang pandemya. Pagbabalik-tanaw ni Rhea, “Nung nagsimulang mag-lockdown, nganga! Kahit isang event, walang natuloy. So, yung food truck namin nandun lang, nagtatago sa silong. Pero tuloy pa rin yung bayad.”

Nagsarado ang business establishments, at natigil ang produksiyon ng ice cream nina Rhea at Dennis. Ayon pa rin kay Rhea, naisip nilang mag-asawa na gumawa ng flavorings, “July 2020, kasagsagan ng pandemya, may mga kaibigan na kami sa industriya na kinakausap namin kung puwede namin gawin yung ube flavor.”

Sinubukan raw nila ang flavorings sa paggawa ng pandesal at cakes. Hanggang sa makuha nila ang timpla noong October 2020.

Apat na flavorings ang nagawa nila: Ubeness, Langkaness, Buko Pandaness, at Mangoness. Pumatok ito sa mga taong pinasok ang baking.


Sa kalagitnaan din ng pandemya, nakalikha rin sila ng isa pang produkto, isang Philippine beer. Ani Rhea, “Sinimulan naming pag-aralan iyang Guapito mga 2019, tinulungan kami nung kaibigan namin na Dutch na gumawa ng beer. So, nagustuhan namin.” Noong April 2020 ay gusto na raw sana nilang i-relese sa market ang Guapito Beer para tumaon sana sa Philippine Independence sa June 12. Dugtong ni Rhea, “Pero dahil nga sa pandemya, walang mga event. Sarado yung mga factory.” Ayon naman kay Dennis, “Matagal na naming gustong magkaroon ng brand ng beer to promote the Philippine food nga. Ang available lang dito is all-imported beer. Nag-decide kami na subukan.” Paglalarawan ni Rhea sa lasa ng beer: “Mapait siya na konting manamis-namis, pero puwede inumin ng babae.” October 2020, ini-release na nila ang Guapito Beer. Ani Rhea, “Maraming Pilipino yung natuwa, pati yung ibang lahi. Yung mga asawa ng mga Pinay masayang-masaya sila sa lasa ng beer kasi mae-enjoy mo siya. Ang Guapito Beer ang first Filipino brand na beer na dito ginawa sa the Netherlands.” Ngayon, inaani na ng mag-asawa ang pagsusumikap nila.

Mabibili ang Guapito beer sa mga Filipino stores sa Amsterdam at Wateringen sa the Netherlands at iba pang bahagi ng Europa, sa Luxembourg at Belgium. Mabibili naman ang Luneta Ice Cream sa buong Europa—Italy, Spain, hanggang the United Kingdom., Norway, Sweden, Denmark. “Lahat ng 37 countries under the European Union,” sambit ni Rhea. Masaya raw silang mag-asawa kapag nakikita nila ang kanilang flavorings na ipino-post sa social media ng kanilang mga parokyano. Sabi ni Rhea, “Kapag nakikita namin sa social media lalo pag galing sa Barcelona, sa Norway, o kaya sa Sweden. Nakikita mo yung bote ng Ubeness, kasama ng cake nila.”

Sa kabila ng mga hamong pinagdaanan nila bago umangat, hindi sila nawalan ng pag-asa at sa sarili nila ito nanggaling. Ani pa niya, “Hindi naman kailangan nasa ibang bansa, kailangan nasa Pilipinas ka. Walang pinagkaiba yan lahat tayo naapektuhan ng pandemya. Kailangan mo rin tibayan ulit yung sarili mo.”

Payo naman ni Dennis, “Huwag susuko, pag-isipan pa kung ano yung iba mo pang magagawa. Laging may paraan.”

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