Aling Dainty and her Bakeshop

by Oliver Carlos

Aside from hot springs and buko pies, another thing that makes my hometown Los Banos famous is a special chocolate cake. This cake is so delicious that it now sells in many branches of the cake store in Grove, Maahas, and in SM Calamba. During special occasions, long lines of people can be seen in their stores. But don’t you know that long before this chain of chocolate cake stores existed, there was Dainty Bakeshop? That’s Los Banos’ top cake maker from 1981 to 1997.

Mrs. Naida “Nancy” Deriquito in the old Dainty Bakeshop in Crossing, Los Banos, Laguna. (photo by Rene Deriquito)

Dainty Bakeshop was located in Crossing Los Banos, beside the old Catholic church and a flower shop. There was no Robinson’s Mall or Jollibee store yet in that vicinity, but that was already the center of gravity of the town’s hustle and bustle. There’s just one other cake house for competition, Delicious Bakeshop, and it’s located inside the public market. Dainty was more accessible, specially for customers coming from the UPLB area.

The proprietor of Dainty Bakeshop was Mrs. Naida R. Deriquito. Her nickname was Nancy, but her customers call her “Aling Dainty.” Most people thought the bakeshop was named after her, but it’s not. The word dainty is an adjective which means pleasing to the sense of taste. It also means pretty in a delicate way. The name of the bakeshop was suggested by Nancy’s eldest daughter Mercy.

In the 1980s, Dainty was known for its special occasion cakes- birthday, anniversary, and wedding cakes. These were pre-ordered and picked up days later. It’s unlike today when you can just walk in the shops, and the cake that you wanted is already available on display.

The best-selling products of Dainty were banana cakes and butter cakes. That’s what sells daily among the walk-in customers. Sales of special occasion cakes were strong only on weekends when parties were usually held. Aside from those cakes, Dainty also sold cheesecakes, brownies, and tarts.

A famous walk-in customer they once had was beauty queen and actress Chat Silayan. She bought several cakes that she brought to the National Arts Center where another celebrity was holding a party. The Los Banos folks referred Silayan to Dainty when she asked around where she could buy elegant sweets for an elegant person’s elegant birthday party.

Dainty transferred its location to Grove beginning in 1993, and since then its sales went down, probably because there were fewer people in Grove compared to Crossing. After 4 years, Nancy felt that the time was ripe for her to retire. At that point in time, the bakeshop has successfully financed the studies of the 7 Deriquito children. All of them were already established professionals when Dainty closed shop in 1997.

I’m always fascinated by pastries. I love bread, I love cakes, specially the sweet ones. Incidentally, there’s a place in Israel that literally means bakery or bakeshop. That is Bethlehem. In the Hebrew language, Bethlehem means “house of bread.” In the Bible, there’s a character who migrated from Bethlehem to a foreign land called Moab. Naomi moved to that country on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea. Moab literally means “garbage bin.” Her life became worse there as her husband and 2 sons died in that place. Later on, Naomi, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth migrated back to Bethlehem and lived there happily ever after.

“So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.” (Ruth 1:22, NIV)

That simple migration story tells us a very important life lesson. Our life direction must always be towards God’s “house of bread” and not towards the “garbage bin.” Bethlehem was Jesus’ birthplace, a place where there is hope for the hungry and weary. Go to Jesus, in him we will find great prosperity, contentment, joy, and peace.

Do you feel you are now in a garbage bin? Do you feel that the circumstances around you is a mess? Let your heart “migrate” towards Jesus, he will fill all your hunger pains like no other.

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.