2023 Grand Chamber Awards (GCA) MSM Entrepreneur of the Year Ms. Jennifer Ong

Jennifer Ong

CEO, Cebu Cardinal Bakeshop

Everyone knows Hershey’s chocolate, but when Milton Hershey first started his candy production career, he was a nobody. After he was fired as a printer’s apprentice, Hershey watched as the three separate candy-related ventures failed one after another.

Just like Mr. Milton Hershey, Ms. Jennifer Ong along with husband Leewin, undertook several attempts before they finally transformed Cebu Cardinal Bakeshop from an ordinary bakery located in Taboan Market into a “household” brand name as one of Cebu’s best bakery and pastry products. They now have a big commissary in Dumlog, Talisay City and posh coffee shop, Cardinal Coffea at Don Jose Avila St, Don Gil Carcia St., Capitol Site, Cebu City and other strategic locations with Cebu City.  

Drawing inspiration and to honor and commemorate her grandfather who started the “Cardinal Bakeshop” in Surigao, the couple opened Cebu Cardinal Bakeshop in 2003 with a few employees having very limited baking experience to thrive and prosper, they capacitated themselves by enrolling in culinary short courses, baking tutorials, seminars and committed to improve their craftsmanship.

Under the couple’s dynamic teamwork and leadership, they confronted head-on the challenges   brought by the COVID 19 pandemic, pivoting and innovating to navigate the uncertainties. Her strategic acumen not only ensured survival but positioned the bakeshop for resurgence in the post-pandemic era.

Acknowledging the unwavering support of their employees during these trying times, Cebu Cardinal Bakeshop stands today as a symbol of resilience and teamwork. The words, “Adto palit sa Cebu Cardinal”, resonated in Cebu’s community including the front liners, procurement officers and staff alike.  Cebu Cardinal bakeshop is committed to its workforce nurturing a familial bond of warmth, fervor and enthusiasm which translates into the production of delectable pastries such as the famous and best-seller cheese rolls, cheese ensaymada, peanut cookies and great coffee.

As an entrepreneur fueled by a thirst for knowledge and adaptability in the face of adversity, Jennifer’s journey epitomizes resilience, endurance, and business innovation. Cardinal Bakeshop transcends from being a mere bakery and stands as an inspiration for budding entrepreneurs, illuminating the path to success.

Optimizing social media and other digital platforms, Cebu Cardinal Bakeshop has opened more doors for opportunities, elevating its digital presence and forming strategic partnerships to enhance marketability and promotions. This reflects the shop’s responsiveness to evolving customer preferences.

While it is true that one must learn from mistakes, it is important to reflect, accept failure as part of growth and revisit the passion in pursuit of a goal.

“Keep failing. It is okay to fail. Take it as a learning experience. You cannot expect to become good at something without first being bad at it.”

These words echo the journey of Jennifer Ong, the driving force behind Cardinal Bakeshop, who alongside her husband Leewin, has personified resilience, determination, and the transformative essence of entrepreneurship. Tir foray into the bakery and pastry industry began over two decades ago and has since blossomed into an extraordinary success story—an ode to their unwavering spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence.