The founder of local food giant Pampanga’s Best, Leticia Lolita Olalia Hizon, also known as “Apung Lolet,” passed away on October 3 at the age of 84.
In a phone interview with Inquirer.net, her eldest son, Jose Maria, confirmed that Apung Lolet succumbed to renal failure while being treated at a local hospital. She is remembered by her loved ones as “the epitome of beauty, strength, generosity, faith in the Lord, and love for family.” (Read: Eggluck Jeepney-Food Truck Brings Egg Drop Sandwiches To The North)
“As the founder of Pampanga’s Best and the one who formulated the original tocino, her contribution to the Philippine economy is immeasurable. Likewise, her influence on Filipino cuisine cannot be overstated,” Pampanga’s Best said in a Facebook post.
Teacher turned businesswoman
Apung Lolet resigned from a teaching job in a public elementary school and went full-time in the business in 1967, raising the initial capital of P3,500 from a ring she pawned. Along with her husband Angelo Hizon Jr., they turned Pampanga’s Best into a multi-million-peso meat processing company, involving their 12 children in the business.
Since then, Pampanga’s Best has become the most well-known and successful meat processing company in the Philippines. From its popular Tocino, the company now produces Hotdogs, Longanisa, Ham, Bacon, Tapa, Burger Patties, Corned Beef, Embotido, Barbecue, and Nuggets.
A philanthropist and the first woman elected to the San Fernando legislative council
Apart from her loved ones, some people, mostly Pampangueños, also remembered Apung Lolet as the first woman to be elected to the San Fernando legislative council.
Even after losing her bid for vice mayor of San Fernando and Bacolor and representative of the third district, she continued to hold various charity events to serve her fellow Kapampangans.
According to a news article from Inquirer.net, she helped Bacolor rise from the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo by building classrooms, constructing homes and the municipal hall annex, and employing residents.
“She was a philanthropist in her community, serving San Fernando and Bacolor selflessly throughout her life,” the company added. (Read: LOOK: Social Enterprise In Singapore Helps Kids With Special Needs Through Selling Filipino Food!)
Apung Lolet is more than just a woman in the logo and Pampanga’s Best founder. Her tocino recipe remains a culinary legacy. From an “unsold pork” she bought to help her meat vendor neighbor, she came up with a formula, revising the traditional Capampangan pindang (fermented pork) recipe—resulting in a sweet and salty taste that everyone loves.
Derived from a Spanish delicacy “that is sweet,” she called it “tocino” and popularized a local version of it, which became the most best-selling tocino brand and the on-the-go staple of many Filipinos.
The brand also acquired the AAA Category, the highest level for a manufacturing plant, from the National Meat Inspection Service. As the Pampanga’s Best founder, Apung Lolet makes sure the company emphasizes the importance of high quality, creating customer value, satisfaction, and loyalty. (Read: A Filipina Culinary Icon’s Legacy)
“Apung Lolet always said that the success of Pampanga’s Best has been because of Divine Providence. We continue to trust in God’s sovereign plan, and express our utmost gratitude for lending us His amazing gift: our Apung Lolet,” the company reiterated.