Hey Pie People’s Raeanne Kho Young Sagan: The Pies That Bind Us

Raeanne Kho Young Sagan, mom of three and founder of Hey Pie People, talks to Modern Parenting about her straightforward approach to pies and parenting.

When you think about pies in the Philippines, perhaps the first flavor that comes to mind is one popularized by a prodigious fast-food chain in the country—the Peach Mango Pie. Or if you hail from the south of Luzon, there’s the Buko Pie—considered a specialty in Laguna and often brought home as a souvenir to families. Filipinos, in general, aren’t as used to making or eating pies—but one pie maker is slowly changing the dessert landscape in Metro Manila. Meet Raeanne Kho Young Sagan, mom of twin toddlers and a baby, and founder of Hey Pie People.

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Even Modern Parenting’s very own Editor-in-Chief, Marga Medrano Tupaz, is a fan. “Hey Pie People pies are worth all the hype and all the calories!” she shares. “The malted chocolate pudding pie is the definition of comfort food. The pudding is not sweet and you can taste the cocoa throughout every bite. Couple that with a flaky and buttery crust (almost like a croissant), creamy whipped topping, and bits of crunchy Valrhona chocolate pearls, and that’s it — you’re in pie heaven! The pies are eaten best out of the refrigerator like a slice of pizza so you can take it all in in one bite. The result is a texture explosion of sorts that you will keep looking for.”

Far From a Dessert Lover

The first thing Raeanne says during our video interview is that she’s not a dessert lover. “I wouldn’t describe myself as that. I’m really not a cake person, you know? But I really do love pie and I make a lot of pies. I just don’t think I’d describe myself as that.”

Her pies have gained a cult following with almost 27,000 followers on Instagram—an engaged community that continues to grow through word-of-mouth—all thanks to a shared love for the baked dish. Raeanne even bakes pies based on some of her memories from living in Brazil and the US.

She reveals the story of why her Pumpkin Pie is named Better-Than-Your-Ex’s. “My husband and I met by having an affair at work. That’s one of the things that really characterizes our relationship. And we were both in relationships when we first got together. So it was very scandalous. But honestly, in the States, it’s not as scandalous as it is here.”

“His ex-girlfriend was a chef, who used to make pumpkin pie from scratch. So for the longest time, it was not something I would touch. I would not want to make pumpkin pie. Because I don’t want to be compared to his ex! And I was so afraid of going anywhere near that pie. But I really love pumpkin pie and I love to make it. So I started to make it and then eventually, I feel like I got over it! It’s one of my favorite pies and it’s one of my husband’s favorite pies that I make now.”

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L-R: Raeanne’s husband, Colin; their twins, Caio and Rafaela; and baby Cenzo

The Struggles of Her IVF Journey

For a little over two years, Raeanne and her husband stayed in Brazil in an attempt to get pregnant through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). “We got pregnant after five tries of IVF. On the sixth try, we got pregnant with the twins. I always thought I was going to Brazil to get IVF and then come back to the Philippines to deliver. But once we got pregnant with the twins, it was a high-risk pregnancy. We felt comfortable with our medical team there so we just stayed.”

Raeanne’s medical team includes her mom and stepdad, who are gynecologists. In addition, her stepdad is an infertility specialist. Both parents were present during her delivery.

“IVF was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Especially having done it five times. Five rounds of IVF basically means five miscarriages. I don’t think the hardest part of it is getting pregnant. But it’s the process of losing every pregnancy. You’re so full of hope and you’re testing so early. So you really know if you’re pregnant or not from early on. And then you know if it survives or not very, very early on. The feeling of those losses and then coming back after—that is really intense. It’s one of the biggest struggles me and my husband have ever gone through together. But I think it makes us much stronger as a family, too.”

The Pies That Bind

“We were in Brazil for the first three months. Exactly when the twins turned three months old was when we went back to the States. And we were there for another six months before coming to the Philippines—just before the pandemic. So we just stayed here.”

Raeanne highlights the importance of being aligned with her husband in the things that they want to do. “The two of us are really focused on our goals. And we always had this vision of what kind of family we wanted to have. We both really want to be present parents. We’re home and involved with our kids all the time. So having a home-based baking business allows us to be with the kids all day. And they bake with us! We just have people come to our house to pick up their pies, so we get to spend all day with the kids. It’s a lot but it’s also our dream. All we wanted to do when we decided to leave the States was have some kids, raise our family, and spend more time together.”

Previously living in the Bay area where Raeanne and her husband worked in the technology industry, she admits that the culture was intense and that they worked all the time. “We just knew that that wasn’t what we wanted for our life. It’s funny now because we still do work a lot. We make pies 24/7. We wake up early, the oven turns on at 6:30 AM, and we’re going all day. But it’s a different kind of work. It’s more fun. We put our hearts into it and we all do it together. While the kids are napping is when we’re doing a bunch of stuff. And then after they go to sleep, my husband and I go down and we roll and make dough for the next day. So it’s really nice even though it’s 24/7.”

Her Miracle Baby

After doing IVF several times before finally getting pregnant and giving birth to twins, Raeanne was asked what kind of birth control she wanted to be put on.

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Birth control? I’ve been trying to get pregnant for six years. I’m not going to get on birth control! It’s impossible. Getting pregnant in itself is a medical miracle. What do I need birth control for?’ And all the doctors said you will be surprised how often it happens after IVF that you get pregnant naturally. And I said no, that’s never going to happen to me. Of course, 15 months later, I got spontaneously pregnant with my third baby. And I thought to myself, ‘This is insane. This is a medical miracle.'”

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Raeanne with Cenzo

At that time, the twins were still breastfeeding. Raeanne had to wean them right away, which she says was difficult. “When I got pregnant was when I started making a lot more pies here. The twins would bake with me. They were about a year and a half and we would make giant messes in the kitchen. And I was craving different things—different kinds of pies. That was also in the middle of the pandemic so we were not really eating out.”

Cravings That Led to Hey Pie People

When I get pregnant, I get on crazy baking binges. I have all these cravings. I was also craving pies in Brazil. And in Brazil, you can’t get an American kind of pie. It’s not a thing there. They have more savory pies. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, everything that I ate tasted too Filipino in a way that I wasn’t craving. That’s why we started making a lot of pies here when I was pregnant with Baby Number Three.”

With each of her pies having a backstory, it’s easy for Raeanne to disclose what pies she associates with motherhood. “I have two answers. For pregnancy, for sure it’s chocolate pudding because that’s what I was craving the most. And because my kids are young—I think having young kids is all about the banana cream pie. It’s all that they eat. Banana is one of their first words and one of their first foods. I made a banana cream pie for my third kid’s birthday this year. I had a banana cream pie-themed party for the twins where we had banana hats. And I made banana cream pie for everybody. It was just messy and fun.”

Three Pies in a Pod

It’s evident how much Raeanne adores all three of her children. Her eyes light up as she talks about each one while simultaneously playing with them on the Cuenca Football Field of Ayala Alabang. She describes each of their distinct personalities through her pie flavors.

“They have very strong preferences. My daughter is really into chocolate. And her twin—he only wants strawberries. Number 3, the bunso, he’s all about the bananas. It’s funny. They have very specific preferences.”

Despite the difference in personalities, Raeanne and her husband are very consistent in terms of their parenting style. “They are very different in the ways they respond to our parenting style. Some of them need more countdowns and warnings when it comes to stuff.”

Parenting is definitely a journey that has made Raeanne incredibly grateful—especially because of the lengths that she and her husband took to get to where they are. “My husband and I used to tell each other, ‘This is probably the last time this is ever going to happen. So if you’re nauseous, enjoy it. Because you’re not going to be nauseous again.’ Little did we know we were going to have Number Three. And I’m very, very grateful. Even during the times when things are hard or when the toddlers are acting like terrible teenagers, I just remember that this is it. This is the last time I’m going to see them in this moment. Being terrible threenagers. Doing terrible things. So I better enjoy how beautiful it is.”

Raeanne tries not to feel mom guilt or sweat the small things either. “I let them watch on the iPad when I need to do 10 minutes of something for myself and I don’t feel bad about it. I get take-out or whatever it is that they need at that moment. If they need party spaghetti because that’s the only thing they’re going to eat, that’s what they get! And that’s okay with me. I don’t need every single thing to be perfect. I don’t need everything I do with them to be perfect.”

“The most important thing to me is that we all get to survive in this ecosystem. To survive and thrive as an ecosystem of a family. Not to have the most perfect preschool education or the most perfect diet. We’re not very dogmatic in any particular parenting style. We just do the best that we can all the time!”

On Pies, Parenting, and Boundaries

Hey Pie People was a hobby that gained popularity and eventually became a small home business. “It’s not a traditional business. I would say in some ways, it’s not even a business. But it became a community. It’s really fun having a community of pie-loving people. There is no work-life balance for me. It’s just all life. So it’s not like these are the times that I do the pie business, and these are the times that I parent. No. My parenting is all day and all night. I’m baking and thinking about pie all day and all night. I like to respond to people on Instagram in the middle of the night,” Raeanne laughs.

Raeanne with her part-time assistants a.k.a. The Pie Angels

As a backyard business born out of her love for pie, Raeanne knows the importance of having strong boundaries. “Because as a mom, we have really limited time. So for example, I don’t do any deliveries. Another example is I don’t pre-slice pies because every single time that I have to pre-slice is more time I’m taking away from my kids or making more pies for the people! I don’t take any special orders. I only do one flavor per week. So if you want something different—like you don’t want chocolate this week and you want strawberry instead—I don’t do that. It’s about having really strong limits and knowing my own limits and being really protective about my time and my capacity. Because as soon as I step over, that’s when you lose the love.”

Raeanne sets boundaries in both her business and being a mom. “In general, it’s hard to set boundaries. Setting boundaries as a mother and as a woman is something that is societally discouraged and frowned upon. We’re not supposed to have boundaries. We’re supposed to be nurturing, we’re supposed to be accommodating.”

She adds, “Even specifically in the local food industry, people have expectations that you’re going to serve them. And in some ways, I love the service part. Because I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t love to make people happy and if I didn’t love that aspect of service. When people come to pick up pies at my house, I give the pies to them myself. Because I made this pie for them. So there’s an element of service that I really enjoy.”

“A lot of food sellers and home businesses don’t have strong boundaries because they’re conditioned to think that we have to please everyone. We have to make it custom and make it special. I feel that I make everything special by doing it myself. But I don’t do things like give out plastic forks. Or I don’t extend myself more than I know my own limits because that’s when I’m going to burn myself out. And that’s the fastest way to kill something that’s really beautiful.”

“I learned a lot about myself as a mom, as a pie maker, as a community member, and as a Filipino. Because I have never had a community like this in the Philippines. I never really grew up here so I’ve never met this many Filipinos in my life! And I met so many kinds of different people. From celebrities to other moms. There are young college students who are always up on my order forms every weekend. There are so many different kinds of people who I never would have had the privilege of meeting or getting to know if it weren’t for this. And so, I learned so much more about myself through those interactions and through meeting all of these pie people.”

On What’s Next for Hey Pie People

“There are a lot of things that I like about raising small kids here in the Philippines. And there are also a lot of things that I miss in the States and that I would want them to experience there. So what’s next is a big question mark. We’ll figure it out as it goes—like the pies,” Raeanne says with a shrug.

“My overall philosophy about a lot of stuff is being really grateful for where we are at this moment. Because I don’t know how long it’s going to last. Making as many pies as I possibly can or making them the best that they can possibly be! We just don’t know how long our current situation is going to last. So we’re grateful for every moment and we just do what we can. We take things one day at a time.”

Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Art Direction MARC YELLOW
Shoot Coordination SAM BALAGTAS

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