By Grace Garces Bordallo
For the U Matuna Si Yu’os
Faith is at the heart of Ambros and Louella Villo’s business, Elite Bakery. Placing God at the center of their lives has helped the devoted Catholic couple grow further in love with each other, and that love expresses itself joyfully in their bakery and in the service they do for their community.
The Villos have faced many challenges in their journey together: Their families did not want them to marry. There wasn’t enough money to make ends meet or to start a business. But for every challenge they faced, they first turned to God in prayer.
“In everything that I do I always ask the Lord to help me out. I said, ‘Lord I’ll do my job, now this is your job’,” Louella said. “If you have faith, even what happens, you can tackle hardships in life. It gives you strength,” the dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and entrepreneur said. Louella Villo says their three grown children understand that. “That’s what the legacy of the family is,” she said.
Ambros and Louella were not strangers to each other before they started dating in the Philippines in their younger days. Her older sister was married to his older brother, and both were working in his family’s bakery in north Cebu. Not long after they met, and with much hesitation between both families, Ambros and Louella Villo wed. The couple will celebrate 48 years of marriage this month. At first, Ambros did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps as a baker. Instead, he wanted to carve out his own career as an architect.
Soon after they married however, they realized that their careers as professionals were not earning them enough money, even with strict budgeting. With help from their siblings, they started a bakery which they operated on weekends. After a month, Louella presented her husband with numbers. In one month, she calculated that they earned more money working weekends in their bakery, than during the remaining 20 days at their regular jobs.
Ambros had worked as a board-certified architect and Louella managed a rural bank. She is also a certified public accountant (CPA).
Though sales were good, Louella said she still needed to convince her husband to let go of his career in architecture. “The profit is good. These are numbers and it’s a fact that will not lie to us,” she recalled telling her husband.
“It was 1967 when my wife and I went from just the two of us making cookies on the weekend, to a fully operational bakery with over 35 employees,” Ambros said. Besides their bakery in Cebu, their business has since expanded to four more baker- ies, in Agat and Tamuning, Guam; Songsong Village, Rota; and in Union City, Calif.
They opened the doors of Elite Bakery on Guam in 1973. “We were the first to introduce the chiffon based cakes here on Guam,” Ambros said.
Their specialty chiffon cake flavors include guava delight, pineapple, and chocolate dobash.
Some of the Villos’ more popular items are custard pie, blue Hawaiian cake, and the local traditional red velvet. “We are also well known for our seasonal desserts such as sylvanas, masarap tarts, fruit cake, San Rival, pecan pie, and the Holiday apple pie,” he said.
“People say our products don’t overwhelm you with being too sweet, from our breads, cakes, and our pastries,” Ambros said. Besides baking for customers, they also take time on Thursdays to give back to the community. Since 1978, the Villos have maintained a kind-hearted tradition of serving lunch to Guam’s Catholic clergy.
“Every Thursday we welcome priests here for a free lunch. Whatever priests will come, we are always here,” she said. It’s a time they can break bread and share in laughter. The Villos enjoy the company, as well as advice they readily receive from priests who walk into their facility.
“With all my hardship. It made me strong. My priest friends are always there to try to advise me on what to do. They give me a very strong spirit. And that’s why I am so thankful to the Lord,” she said.
“Father Dan (Ferrandiz) said, ‘If you have problems, just observe the three ‘P’s: patience, perseverance, then persistence’,” Louella said. “I really appreciate the wisdom they share. I appreciate their friendship.”
Some of the particular saints to whom they are devoted include St. Vincent and St. Monica. They also pray to Santo Nino.
“We have a commitment at 3 o’clock. That’s for the Lord,” she said, noting their devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus.
The couple attends daily Mass, and leads the Divine Mercy prayer at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in their parish church, St. Anthony’s. And at the bakery, when the 3 o’clock hour arrives, “All those who are Cath- olic and not doing essential work will pause for a few minutes to pray the Divine Mercy,” Ambros said.
“Life sometimes is not a bed of roses. (There are) lots of challenges and trials. That is where your spirit comes through. That’s when God is testing you,” Louella said. “The more I have problems the more I pray.”
Ambros added, “God first before any- thing else.” The Villos own five bakeries and have three children and 13 grandchildren. They do not merely run their businesses. They actively put their hearts, hands and years of baking skills in their enterprise. The cheery Catholic husband and wife can still be found baking – with love and faith — in their Tamuning shop.