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The ice cream with a family’s name on it.
It was a sunny, cheery January morning in 1990. But to the family that would, within the course of that morning, finally sign away the lifework of three generations, it might as well be a day for a funeral. Elsie Arce Romero, daughter to Mauro C. Arce, youngest son of Ramon Arce who gave Flipinos Selecta Milk and Ice Cream, remembers the day well. “We were at RFM. We, my father, my brothers, Tito and Rudy and I were led to one room. The other side of the family, my father’s relatives, the other stockholders of Arcecon Dairy Products, who were all for the sale of the brand name to the Concepcions of RFM were led to another. We preferred it that way. It would have been unbearable to be in the same room, signing away a rand name, our heritage.” The Arces were indeed a house divided. And Ramon Arce, Sr., founder of the traditional Arce kind of ice cream back in 1935 and who passed on in 1962, would have wept as his son Mauro, in his mid-sixties, and his children might well have done that January morning five years ago. Which, leaden-hearted as they were, they did not. As early as June 1989, they had began grieving. True that Mauro and his family managed the company; true also that it was him who developed the product line; but he owned only a 30% shared of the business. He was simply outvoted. Elsie recalls: “Selecta Ice Cream was not just a business to us. It was a personal, emotional thing, a commitment. It was our life! All the years of my grandfather’s and my father’s hard work were dissolving before our eyes. We felt very cold and distant. We signed the sale papers for the brand name. Selecta Dairy Products, RFM would, that very afternoon lease from Mauro Arce’s family the dairy plant at Balintawak, Q.C. This was the situation for the next two years.
Elsie is more than confident that those who knew their ice cream will think of the new concoction as a homecoming. It does look like that Elsie knows whereof she speaks. This is no surprise to the Arces because as Elsie says, “Our ice cream is so good, old-fashioned good, the way our grandparents taught us, we’ve staked our name on it. It’s Arce Dairy Ice Cream!”