From Ilocos to Manila: Here’s How Bantay Bread Succeeded Amid the Pandemic

The true test of character for any business is being able to survive through a crisis. Right now, a lot of businesses are in a pinch— no thanks to the ongoing pandemic. While some buckle over under the pressure, others find ways to survive. Bantay Bread, an Ilocano bakery, is one of the latter.

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Photo by Takaw Tikim

From Humble Beginnings

Established during the year 2010 by Edward and Estela Villareal, Bantay Bread is a family business that sells bread and pastries in Ilocos. Like every other bakery, Bantay Bread started out by selling pandesal to their patrons in the morning. Their bestsellers include Filipino bread— Pan de Coco, Mamon, Hopia, Putok, Spanish Bread, and Ensaymada, just to name a few.

Bantay Bread by Takawtikim 5

Photo by Takaw Tikim

Moving forward, the couple opened more branches— one in Vigan, and another one near their family home. For a while, the bakery was doing well, but circumstances affected the bakery pre-pandemic. Thus, it wasn’t earning well, and the profits were only enough for day-to-day expenses. Sounds like a real pinch, right? Surprisingly, they were able to bounce back from this.

According to the owners’ son Carlos, he would often check up on his family while he was based in Manila. The news was often bleak with his father saying time and time again that he wanted to close the business. Since Bantay Bread was a brand that Carlos grew up with and loved, though, he was against the idea. Eventually, his parents kept the business going until they hit another problem: the pandemic.

Bantay Bread by Takawtikim 3

Photo by Takaw Tikim

When the Enhanced Community Quarantine was enforced, Carlos’ parents asked him and his twin brother Joseph to return to their home in Ilocos. Since Carlos is a licensed commercial pilot, while Joseph was a real estate agent slash fitness coach in Manila, the move back to the province made them “bums for 2 to 3 weeks”.

Bantay Bread’s Success Story

After a talk with the whole family, including their siblings abroad; the next course of action was for the twins to work on improving their bakery. Since their salon and spa in Ilocos were inoperable for the time being, they planned on growing their business. The brothers started off by expanding Bantay Bread’s menu to include Hopia and Pianono, which they shared with family and friends for feedback.

Bantay Bread by Takawtikim 1

Photo by Takaw Tikim

Next came deliveries. Beyond Ilocos, the brothers brought Bantay Bread to the Manila folk by offering deliveries in the Poblacion area. Since Bantay Bread only used to rely on word of mouth, Carlos and his brother decided to improve on their Facebook page. Once they established a social media presence, where the brothers post mouthwatering photos of their bread, the orders started coming in – and they came in droves, too!

Bantay Bread by Takawtikim 2

Photo by Takaw Tikim

Bantay Bread currently has resellers in different parts of Ilocos, but many have been clamoring for the brothers to set up branches in La Union, Laoag, Abra, and Baguio. According to Carlos, “sobrang sarap ng feeling kasi dati [k]onti lang nakakakilala talaga sa Bantay Bread pero ngayon, iba na. Nakakataba ng puso and yun yung nagpupush sa amin na maging better everyday as a bakery and pati na din as individuals.” (It’s a good feeling because only a few people knew about Bantay Bread before, and things are different now. This encourages us to become better everyday, both as bakers and as individuals.)

Their goal of putting Bantay Bread on the tables of every Ilocano during gatherings and birthdays does not seem far off now that they have established themselves, and Carlos hopes to eventually be able to serve Bantay Bread nationwide. With the way things are going, it looks like he’s getting close to his dream.

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Bantay Bread


Instagram: @bantaybread

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