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"It Makes Me Feel Proud That People Like Lolo's Recipe:" Ariel Rivera, Gelli de Belen's Sons Make Biko Business In Canada
PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM/@lolobensbiko (left) and @gellidelen (right)
  • During the first weekend of July, actress Gelli de Belen and her husband of 21 years, singer Ariel Rivera, were both in Canada with their sons Julio and Joaquin. Their sons have been living in the Greater Toronto Area for a few years now.

    The celebrity mom and dad wasted no time in rallying their online followers to the biko business of their sons who, for the weekend, they were helping out in the kitchen. Their enthusiasm paid off as PEP.ph picked up on the story and the biko sold "like hotcakes."

    Behind the sticky rice, gata, and "diaphragmatic stirring," (Ariel is caught on video by his sons saying, "You have to use your core in stirring," to which the video abruptly cuts after the dad joke) the biko business is actually a tribute to Ariel's dad, who passed away in January 2020.

    Ariel has told Smartparenting.com.ph that his resolve to become the father and the husband he is today comes from Ben, his dad. "I wanted to be like my dad, how he treated my mom," Ariel said in a 2012 interview, "I vowed, 'That’s the same way I will treat my wife, my kids.’”

    Gelli chimed in, "His dad had three jobs, pero ‘pag Sunday, kahit pagod na pagod, he’ll take them out, teach them how to play basketball, teach them how to drive, spend time with them. That’s the dad he remembers."

    Joaquin, the younger of Gelli and Ariel's sons, shared, "Julio originally learned [the biko recipe] a few years ago while lolo was around and he’s been doing it ever since." The side hustle is called Lolo Ben's Biko.


    "Support starving students"

    On her YouTube channel, Gelli asked her boys what made them decide to have a business. “Because we’re broke," said Julio, "We’re broke college students.”

    In previous articles, Gelli and Ariel have been vocal about preparing their sons for independence and responsibility. It was always the plan for them to move to Canada by the time they were 17 or 18, the parents shared. Ariel also grew up in Canada so the sons enjoy the benefits of a Canadian citizenship. In fact, it was only on vacation in the Philippines that Ariel's talent for singing was discovered and he met Gelli in the industry.

    Gelli and Ariel continue to live and work in the Philippines while the boys go about their lives, sharing a home with their lola. When they are all together, making the biko lutong bahay-style really brings out the Filipino values and, no doubt, taste of home.

    "There are so many FIlipinos here that miss the Philippines talaga," said Ariel, "So when they taste it, they say, wow, it feels like I’m back in the Philippines."

    Julio, who is the older son and the one that decided to start selling biko said, "It’s fun. I like it. It makes me feel proud that people like this because it’s lolo’s recipe."

    Joaquin, who mentioned he also tried other work experience, added, “But we have more pride with this.”

    "It’s really fulfilling, actually, to give a part of us — our family — to other people for them to enjoy," Julio said, "I love to hear feedback from people. How they really like our biko. It’s almost like an extension of lolo’s legacy."

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    In March 2022, Gelli documented the beginnings of the business on YouTube. At the time, the Instagram account had 974 followers. Today it has grown to over 2,500 followers.

    The hardest part for the first-time entrepreneurs, said Joaquin, was managing the social media. Gelli stresses that the biko is only available in the Greater Toronto Area, "'Wag na kayong magtanong kung nasa U.S. or Pilipinas kayo."

    Ariel also added, "Support starving students!" But truthfully, ang sipag ah!

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