Business, heritage, the arts, and social responsibility all converge to shape Margo Frasco’s path
“We all live lives that call for ‘hyphenation,’” says Margo Frasco, a business owner who comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her family is responsible for the hundred-yearold business Titay’s, home of the famous Liloan pasalubong, which, under her wing, has made its way into the national sphere with a strategic and progressive expansion.
“Titay’s has always taken great care of me. Our employees have and will always be my family,” Frasco says. The responsibility she carries as the company’s current COO springs from a childhood immersed in the business and the rich history it carries. She remembers spending afternoons at the factory, moving around heavy equipment, playfully disrupting everyone’s work. “I appreciated how the staff would take good care of us no matter how annoying we became,” she laughs. “I remember running around, snatching everyone’s hairnets off. I’m sure it was cause for frustration for a lot of them and for that, I’m now really apologetic!”
While Frasco and her brother (current Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco) were raised in an environment that had them interacting with the staff, their exposure to the business was never contrived. “We were disciplined but allowed to make mistakes,” she says, adding that they were constantly surrounded by people: visitors, delivery men and women, customers, locals. “There was always something to do or somewhere to go.”
Because Titay’s has been handled and passed from generation to generation, Frasco grew up very close to her grandmother. “We would watch together,
and she would always call my attention when the dollar exchange rate would flash onscreen,” she remembers. “At an early age, my grandmother taught me never to fiddle with capital, and to tap profit instead. She would always tell me to know how much I had in the bank.”
Her grandmother’s influence extended all the way into the kitchen. “She would wake up at 3 a.m. to prepare mixtures for the next day, and then return to bed smelling of dough, batter, flour, and oil. She was exhausted but was beyond hardworking. Mass was always a part of her week, and that’s something I practice to this day.”
Frasco was also a typical “daddy’s girl,” which did not exactly spare her from the occasional lecture from her father— something that helped shape her work ethic. “I had to be awake early one Saturday morning to help him plant a persimmon tree and I didn’t wake up on time. I received a huge lecture. He told me that at the rate I was going, I would never get to the same level as my grandmother. That hit me hard, and since then, I made sure I never disappointed him.”
That said, she grew up in an environment that inspired open minds through leniency. “My parents always encouraged me to dream big and to never take anything for granted. We were constantly reminded of our privilege.”
Business soon became second nature to Frasco, as her grandmother patiently schooled her in everything, from closing the cashier at the store to sorting next-day deposits. “It was never an actual expectation for me to take part in the business; our parents wanted us to pursue our dreams and explore the world,” she clarifies. “But I did feel that there would come a time when I would eventually be involved. I woke up and wondered about living in Cebu one day. I returned in 2012 from the U.S., and have been here since.”
The move wasn’t easy for her, as she had left her life in the U.S. on a whim.
It was never an actual expectation for me to take part
in the business; our parents wanted us to pursue our dreams
and explore the world.
Without any friends outside of her family, she recognized that it would take extreme strength and confidence to make her new life here work. “It wasn’t a walk in the park,” she admits. Apart from that, the century- old family business was already set in its ways “I had to set my objectives and understand how everything operated. It took a lot of patience on all fronts to get our goals aligned and vision planned, but everything pointed towards wider distribution and complete transparency.
“My ultimate dream for Titay’s is that it would become recognized as one of the world’s [makers of the] most exquisite cookies,” Frasco continues. “I want it to be around for another hundred years and be known as an institution that takes amazing care of its employees.”
While the business consumes most of her days and nights and consistently keeps her “on her toes,” she keeps herself busy with non-work related interests, too. “I dislike being stagnant,” she says. Her quickest escape hatch to relaxation is through stories, whether through books, role-playing games, or a passion she’s had since her teens: the theater. “I remember being extremely timid, and don’t get me wrong—there will always be butterflies every time I step on stage.” She did not expect to be able to indulge in her fondness for theater upon moving to Cebu. “I was apprehensive that my passion would be lost because I was so unfamiliar with the local scene.” But as luck would have it, she was approached to sponsor a production of
Siddhartha. “An adaptation is in the works, and we aim to stage it in December.”
Apart from theater, music has also been a huge passion of Frasco’s, from her childhood days studying the piano to her current job as a DJ at Magic FM. “We’re a diverse bunch of eccentric and hardworking people who’ve got each others’ backs 100 percent of the time,” she says of her radio job. Frasco started her career as a DJ at a house party when she was 19 years old, and her musical tastes have run the gamut of sentimental love songs (when she was in grade school) to hip hop and R&B slow jams (in high school) to house and techno/EDM. “These were the
types of music that inspired my DJ career. I figured, if I can’t sing, then I may as well be on a platform, mixing my favorite tracks. It’s amazing how nostalgic people become when they hear a familiar tune.”
Frasco’s colorful life is made vibrant by so many of her interests, including her role as a member and advocate of the LGBT community. Being openly gay has opened her up to highs and lows like no other. “It’s normal for matters to hit rock bottom before the situation gets better,” she explains. “When I was young, I used to contemplate on whether there’d be a day I could bring a partner to a family function without that feeling of disapproval or uneasiness. And when that day finally came, I felt the weight lift off my shoulders.”
The stigma hasn’t completely lifted, but Frasco holds strongly to the belief that she is not alone—something she’d like to impart to people dealing with the same situation. “There are moments when you may sense that everyone is against you, but you are absolutely wrong. God watches over you. You have your family and friends. Occasionally, there may be bumps on the road with family, but always be mindful that when you hurt, they hurt. When you miss them, they miss you. And when you are in anguish, they worry. Most importantly, when you are happy, the family is always happy with you.
“We can’t have everyone accept us for what we are, but we can try to make them understand who we are. We can try to convince them that we are no different from anyone else. We cry, we laugh, we hurt, we love. Let’s not dwell on the burden of pain, but embrace the affection from those who love us instead.”
At the heart of Frasco’s life, it is love that speaks loudly and clearly: love for others, her family, her passions, God, and herself. “I’m willing to accept the inevitable fate that we all have. If we are meant to change something in this lifetime, it’s because we are destined to. We’re always trying to change, to innovate, to make things better— but behind it all, we need to change, innovate, and improve ourselves to become greater people.”
“I REMEMBER BEING EXTREMELY TIMID, AND DON’T GET ME WRONG—THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BUTTERFLIES EVERYTIME I STEP ON THE STAGE,” SAYS MARGO FRASCO ON HER LIFE AS A
MARGO FRASCO MUNCHES ON TITAY’S ROSQUILLOS CORAZON, A BUSINESS THEIR
FAMILY HAS OWNED FOR 110 YEARS.