An adventure as that of young adult novels, three friends: Franz Justin B. Dancel (21), Efanna Felice D. Casil (21), and Althea Victoria A. Cainglit (21) from Ilocos Norte opened their doors on the path to success by bringing the CUPSD Instant Dinengdeng to the table. Past lessons behind them and the strive to move forward, strap in for their story of taking the taste of northern tradition to every home.

The dinengdeng is one of the key dishes in the Ilocano cuisine. It is comprised of different easily-grown vegetables that one can find in their own backyard and with the addition of the bagoong isda, it is a healthy yet tasty signature dish worth bringing to the table in a matter of seconds. This is the driving inspiration of the trio to introduce the CUPSD Instant Dinengdeng, a freeze-dried product that needs only hot water to transform into a fully cooked dish. Paired with a good old cup of rice, CUPSD offers an instant hearty meal of the northern region.

As Bachelor of Science in Agriculture majors, a trio of friends, Dancel, Casil, and Cainglit, joined hands to put their skills and knowledge to the test, taking on the call of the Young Farmers Challenge of the Department of Agriculture.

Urged and supported by the faculty of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Sustainable Development, or CAFSD—of which their product name, CUPSD, alludes to—at Mariano Marcos State University, these friends set out on a journey to create something that will reach the masses as a serving of culture in a cup.

“It was two birds with one stone,” stated Efanna Felice D. Casil when asked why they decided to embrace the opportunity at the Young Farmers Challenge. According to her, the idea was to fulfill the goals of the faculty as well as to start their own livelihood as young adults. True enough, backed by the encouragement of their peers and mentors, these three 21-year-olds forged through their plan for a business centered on agriculture to not only add experience as new-age agriculturists but also, to help contribute as young adults who are starting to stand on their own feet.

“Opportunities come and go,” Franz Justin B. Dancel emphasized. Rare are those that open the door when chances come a knocking; however, not only did they answer the call of the Young Farmers Challenge, they also stepped out of their comfort zones, paying the toll with blood, sweat, and tears, to create their product, further challenging themselves by changing from their freeze-dried selves to a fully made, warm dish they can be proud of. As Althea Victoria A. Cainglit would have it, “We want to prove something for ourselves.” And prove it they did.

While the Instant Dinengdeng can be served in a matter of minutes, the journey before its success was not so instant. Like every story, the trio first had their fair share of struggles. Unlike their product, which needs only hot water and a few minutes, their process was filled with time, trials, and tears. From the inconsistency in raw materials, their academic schedule, the process, the correct taste, to the secret recipe, ‘instant’ is a word that cannot be used to describe their conflicts. Yet, the trio did not give up.

One of the lessons they learned was patience, the realization that not everything can be rushed. Finding the perfect formula was an arduous process these young agriculturists had to wade through, especially when pressure, time, and weaknesses were against them. It took analysis, careful inspection, and outsiders’ critique for them to figure out what works, and what will work even better.

While in some stories, the individual differences would be the breaking points of the main characters, their trials only enforced the strong bonds they already have. Through communication and understanding, the trio learned to use each other’s strengths and make up for each other’s’ weaknesses, that though their fields of agriculture differ, they managed to incorporate their separate knowledge into the product. Like ingredients of a dish that are completely different yet go well together, this trio of friends found their groove and strived to move forward because they are not done yet.

The adventure is still in play with the trio continuously improving their product. Down the road of research and development, these three friends are still finding ways to perfect their instant dinengdeng before they officially launch it to the public.

Addressing concerns such as expiration dates and nutritional value, the product is continuously improved every day that the time to serve it on the public’s tables is drawing even closer. Soon there will be patents and partner farmers toward an easier flow of production as well as a way of giving back to the community.

They have found a formula that works, the next step is to make it better, and for them, there is nowhere else to go but perfection. As marked by the words of Efanna Casil, “Papunta pa lang kami sa masayang part.”

The story continues to unfold as the trio continues on, embarking on a journey that will change not only their lives but of those around them. Now facing the test of time and more challenges, three friends, Franz Justin B. Dancel, Efanna Felice D. Casil, and Althea Victoria A. Cainglit, carry on along the roads beyond their comfort zones, walking the trails to bring the taste of the northern tradition to every home.