Oro Goldie Guevarra, a proud Pinoy who hails from Narra town in southern Palawan, has been making waves in Switzerland with his successful restaurant chain, Papa Oro’s Filipino Ricebowls.
He and his wife, Virginia, who is also from Narra, have been residing in Switzerland since 1988, working as psychiatric nurses. In spite of this, around three years ago, they made the decision to create a Filipino restaurant, which almost immediately established itself as a favorite dining destination in their neighborhood.
The restaurant’s popularity has been growing steadily, and the couple now owns three branches located in Weitegasse 29, 5401 Baden; Metro shop 5401 Baden; and Hauptstrasse 66, 5200 Brugg.
Papa Oro’s Filipino Ricebowls offers a variety of Pinoy dishes, including chicken adobo, inasal, pancit, chicken BBQ, chicken curry, fried rice, and seafood platters. They also offer a range of soups and other Filipino favorites, such as sinigang, bulalo, and dinuguan
“I decided to open a restaurant three years ago, in 2019. We started with only one, and it immediately became popular. After one year, we opened a take-away resto. It also became popular. Then another resto, and that’s how Pinoy foods became known,” he told Palawan News.
Recently, Oro and his restaurant were featured in the April edition of World Kitchen Magazine and in ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel Europe News on April 10. He shared his story of leaving Narra, studying nursing in Manila, and eventually settling in Switzerland with his wife. His true passion, however, lies in cooking and sharing Filipino food with the Europeans.
Filipino cuisine is known for its rich and flavorful dishes, which are a fusion of influences from other cultures. The diverse range of flavors, textures, and cooking styles makes Filipino cuisine a fascinating and exciting area of exploration for food enthusiasts. All these factors contribute to why cooking is a passion for him.
Expressing pride as a Palaweño and a Filipino, he said that his restaurant chain’s most popular dish is chicken adobo, and the customers, mostly Swiss nationals, enjoy it. Some of them even order kangkong adobo, which Oro says is a testament to the growing popularity of Filipino cuisine in Switzerland.
“The most popular in our menu is chicken adobo. Most customers love and enjoy our Pinoy food. Sometimes they order adobong kangkong too. I am so proud because we are able to introduce Pinoy food here,” said Oro.
Through the establishment of their Filipino restaurant in Switzerland, he said they were able to introduce the country’s culture and cuisine to the locals, thereby encouraging them to learn about and appreciate the diverse traditions that exist throughout the world.
He explained that he regards cooking as his passion for several reasons, one of which is that Filipino culture places a large emphasis on food, and the act of cooking and sharing meals with people is seen as a gesture of hospitality, affection, and respect for one’s fellow man.
Papa Oro’s Ricebowls has become a center for the Filipino community and a place where people can meet and talk about their lives. He said that this helps Filipinos in Switzerland feel like they are part of a group and that they fit there.
The restaurant branches of the Guevarras have helped create employment opportunities too for Filipinos who are searching for work abroad to support their loved ones.
Oro also shared that his family is actively involved in the restaurant business. His two daughters work with them, and they have a total of 28 employees, including six chefs.
“This is a family business. My two daughters work with us. We also do catering for weddings, birthdays, or firm parties. Our customers are both Swiss and Pinoy. My wife Gie is in charge of making them,” he said.
“Naging maganda ang takbo ng buhay namin dito. Nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral ang dalawang anak ko. Natuto [kami] ng German language, maraming nakilala, at narating Switzerland,” he added.
Successful people can give back in numerous ways, such as mentoring, donating to charity, volunteering, and investing in the future. Oro acknowledged that their success is not solely their own, and as a way of giving back, they have supported their relatives by funding their education.
Moreover, they have provided scholarships to the children of their caretaker in Narra, thus enabling them to pursue their studies and improve their future prospects.
Oro said he is sharing his story to inspire other Filipinos who are striving to succeed abroad with the values of focus, perseverance, courage, and the importance of cultivating strong relationships with customers and employees.
Working abroad can be challenging because adjusting to a new culture, language, and customs can be overwhelming and take time to get used to. Being away from family and friends can be emotionally difficult, and the feeling of homesickness can be a constant struggle.
But if one is determined enough, he or she may triumph over any obstacle. “Yan ang gusto kong ipaabot sa mga Pilipino. Kailangan nating maging masipag sa work. Matutong makisama, mahalin ang ating trabaho, at magtiyaga hanggang magtagumpay.”