Ana Santos shows how to pick the right OB-GYN (FemaleNetwork.com)

Excerpts from Female Network: How to pick the right OB-GYN for you (published in FemaleNetwork.com in May 2010)


Is she non-judgmental, patient enough to explain jargon, and accessible at all times? Consult FN’s checklist of questions. By Ana Santos

Most women spend more time picking out a hairstylist than an OB-GYN, or so goes the complaint of many doctors. Perhaps it’s because with a hairstylist, we know exactly what we’re looking for in terms of cut and style. It’s time we exercised the same scrutiny when picking out a OB-GYN. After all, this is the doctor you go to see about your deepest, darkest secrets—or so to speak. Without the right doctor, things can get very awkward very quickly.

Here are some questions that may help narrow down the search.

When do I need to start seeing an OB-GYN?

According to the Dr. Donnica website, there are certain triggers that signal the need for a woman to see an OB-GYN. Visit the OB-GYN:

  • Annually after age 18 or after becoming sexually active, whichever is first.
  • When considering becoming pregnant for a preconception counseling visit.
  • As early as possible in a pregnancy.
  • When you have any unusual signs or symptoms in your breasts, vagina, lower abdomen, urinary system, period or PMS problems, hormonal concerns, need for contraception, etc.

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Read the rest of the article HERE

"The Single Mom’s Guide to Dating" by Ana Santos (in FemaleNetwork.com)

An excerpt from: The Single Mom’s Guide to Dating (published on July 14, 2010 in FemaleNetwork.com)

Raising your child alone does not mean that romance has to fly out the window. By Ana Santos

KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC.

Don’t expect to get it right on the first date. On the contrary, there will be men you wish you had never met, and dates that will make you wish you had stayed home watching animated movies with your kids in your jammies, but that’s what dating is all about. It’s a trial-and-error exercise, and this isn’t a problem restricted to single mothers—anyone in the dating game will have both funny, endearing, and horrific stories to tell you about life “in the wild.”

Dating someone means getting to know him to see if you will suit each other, and as the cliché goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. That means not letting one, two, or even three bad experiences make you a quitter.

GOING OUT DOESN’T MEAN PUTTING OUT.

Engaging adult conversation, getting the attention from a man who finds you attractive, even just considering the prospect of having sex again—all these may make you weak in the knees. Don’t let it cloud your judgment. Casual sex is not for the faint-hearted; you should know when you are ready for a level of involvement that involves getting between the sheets.

Be prudent and wait until you know each other well enough; if he’s a keeper, he’ll respect you enough to wait. Besides, sex carries a risk, and before you take a gamble on your future and that of your children, shouldn’t you make sure he is worth it?

Read the rest of the article on FemaleNetwork.com.

Ana Santos writes about Jinkee Pacquiao (LOOK Magazine, Dec 2009)

Look Magazine Dec 2009: Jinkee Pacquiao

It was all typical of the photo shoots that you see in magazines and on TV. The requisite bright lights, the hues of eye shadow palettes and blushes along with other hair styling tools were strewn on the countertop. The make-up artist and hairstylist were fiddling with brushes and curlers. The stylist was bustling around, arranging outfits and accessories. The managing editor and the photographer were discussing the shots to be taken.

And in the middle of this, Jinkee Pacquiao sat in her make – up chair, patiently getting made up for the camera.

I tentatively approach her and ask if she would like to be interviewed while she’s being made-up, in anticipation of a possibly long photo shoot. She declines, and says just as tentatively, “Uh, mamaya na lang”.

When the hum of the hairdryer dies down, we start the interview with what I think is an innocuous question to break the ice. Mimicing a television show host, “Sino si Jinkee Pacquaio?”

“Simpleng tao lang”, she replies, with her eyes cast downward.

The others in the room, who are no strangers to showbiz and may have heard similar statements before, jovially cheer, and Jinkee shifts a bit uncomfortably in her seat. The reply does sound like a typical response cooked up by a publicist, and but when said by Jinkee in that quiet and truthful way, rather than a press release, it becomes an authentic and sincere admission.

“Gusto ko sana, tayong dalawa lang mag-usap.”., she says politely. And I begin to understand why she initially declined to start the interview right away.

Beneath the fascination and adulation that now surrounds her, and the media circus that she and her family have been thrust into, Jinkee Pacquiao remains…shy. “Mahiyaan talaga ako.”, she explains, a tinge apologetic.

Wives of powerful men — the likes of Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett, Katie Holmes – may initially take on supporting roles to their famous husbands. But sooner or later, they start to pique the interest of the public and are coaxed to come out of the background to share in the limelight.

With her own product endorsements piling up, magazines covers and recently being named a Woman of Style and Substance by People Asia, the signs of Jinkee Pacquaio becoming the next media darling are all there.

And while Jinkee is appreciative of the attention, she doesn’t seem to indulge in it. Rather, she remains unaffected by all the hype.

She still wants to be the same old Jinkee, the simple girl from General Santos.

“Sabi nila supladita daw ako dahil siguro sa features ko, pero tingin ko, hindi naman.” Yun kaibigan ko dati, sila pa rin ang friends ko and binabalikan pa din naming yun dati namin tinitirahan sa Gen San.”

Jinkee narrates a story of bringing their children Jimuel, Michael, Princess and Queen Elizabeth to GenSan during their summer vacation last July.“Si Manny kasi, dun [their old neighborhood in Gen San] pa din sya nagba-basketball. Sinama naming yun mga bata. Nagulat sila. Nakita nila yun mga bata na uh, madumi…yun walang wala. Tapos nag tanong sila kung bakit wala silang air-con, bakit kami nan dun.”, she hesitates a bit before continuing.“Sinabi namin sa kanila na dun kami nakatira dati noong maliliit pa sila. Kailangan alam nila na walang-wala din kami dati.”.

The explanation was enough for the children. “Tapos ok naman sa kanila, nakipag laro na sila dun sa mga bata.”

So near and yet so far from Gen San

Jinkee admits that there have been a lot of changes since Manny’s unparalled success in the boxing ring, the least of which was getting used to putting on make-up all the time. “Kahit nasa bahay ako, naka make-up ako. As in full, kasi hindi mo alam kung kalian o sino yun darating sa bahay.”

“Dati pa mahilig na ko sa make-up.”, she says, partly attributing this to having worked as a beauty consultant for Pond’s in a Gen San mall, when she first met Manny.

“Yun uncle ko trainer nya and sya yun nag pakilala sa amin. Boxer na sya nun and nagcha-champion na din pero hindi pa international. Tapos yun, lagi syang nan dun, sinusundo ako after work. Nagbibigay ng card, ng letters.”, say recalls, portraying a softer side of her husband whose media nicknames include “The Pacman” and “The Destroyer”.

Though they were married 7 months after they first met, Jinkee says that it wasn’t love at first sight. “Hindi din [love at first sight], parang wala lang. Pero hindi sya talaga tumigil sa pagsuyo sa akin. Nagustohan ko na hindi sya mayabang, mahinahon sya, tahimik lang. Mabait si Manny.”, she says softly. “Mula ng kinasal kami, laging nanalo si Manny. Tapos, dire-diretso na ang blessings, Madaming biyaya.”

And, what is it like to be catapulted to such fame and wealth? (Manny Pacquaio was recently identified by a US sports network as the 6th highst paid athlete in the world.)

She pauses for a minute before replying. “Masaya na malungkot din. Masaya na ngayon, nabibili mo gusto; nakikilala ako ng tao, massaya sa opportunity sa commercial and endorsements. Minsan mahirap din na hindi mo kilala nakabuntot sa ‘yo at hindi mo alam kung totoong tao. Malungkot kasi nababawasan ang time para sa bata.”, she says in the same quiet voice, without using flamboyant gestures or bouts of exclamation.

And that’s something obvious about Jinkee throughout this conversation. While she seems reluctant to be sucked up into the media frenzy that surrounds her husband, she is still grateful for and appreciative of the many blessings that his success brings to their family and to the country.

“Sinasabi ko na iba yun impact ni Manny sa mga tao. Ang mga fights nya, para talaga sa mga tao, sa bayan natin. Parang nakilala nga ang Gen San dahil kay Manny, e. Nakakatuwa nga nagiging role model sya ng mga ibang boxers. Nags-sign of the cross din sila bago ng laban”.

“Pero hindi ko talaga na-imagine na ganito. Parang pangaginip. Hindi ko maisip na ganito yung magiging buhay nya, na makikilala sya sa buong mundo.”

Being Mr. and Mrs. Pacquaio

Jinkee and Manny have been married now for 10 years and like any couple have their share of trials. But as the wife of a champion athlete, Jinkee also has to deal with extraneous situations such as Manny being away from her and the kids for months at a time when he has to undergo rigorous train.

“Pag may fight, training sya for 2 months and wala sya sa family, tawag lang.” (at the time of this interview, Manny was in Baguio training for his fight against welterweight champion Miguel Cotto slated for November.) “Pag wala naman fight, busy sa labas, nagmo-movie pa sya.”

Manny’s recent dabbling into movies has opened up Jinkee to another territory that she was previously unfamiliar with – intrigue.

“Mahirap yung mga intrigua na naririnig mo pag wala sya. Minsan nag-aaway, pero naisip ko, ‘wag nalang pansinin. Price of being famous, kasama na yun”, she says with a slight shrug of her shoulders.

She’s learned to roll with the punches, so to speak, saying that when Manny is training, single-minded focus on his upcoming fight is crucial.

“Kailangan nya ang aking supporta pag nagtra-train sya. So, hindi ko sya aawayan at bigyan ng problema. I-isang tabi ko muna [yung feelings ko]. Tapos after the fight, masaya na ang lahat kasi nanalo sya, paano mo pa sasabihin? So sacripisyo muna.”

Pragmatically, she adds. “Kailangan maging patient. Habaan mo talaga ang patience mo. Mag-tiyaga, at mag- pray.”,

Life after boxing

Looking forward, Jinkee wishes, “Gusto ko after boxing, tahimik na buhay para madagdagan yun time sa family.”.

I ask her about Manny’s political aspirations and if a quiet life is possible.

“Ayoko talaga sana. E kasi, sa pulitika, sabi nila, madumi. Dadami kang kaaway and magastos syempre. Perang na-save nyo, magasgastos pa.”, Jinkee candidly admits. But she knowing how important this is to Manny, who she says even before dreamed of serving in government, she has given in. “Gusto nya talaga, so supportahan ko na lang sya. Mahirap kasi yun walang blessing ng family and dati pa gusto na nya maging konsehal.”

As for her own aspirations, Jinkee says, “Masaya ako na sinasabi nila na pwede ako maging role model sa mga nanay. Kung champion si Manny, champion din dapat ako sa pag aasikaso ng pamilya. Hindi ako perfect wife or mother pero ginagampanan ko ng mabuti yun mga tungkolin ko.”

Thinking of their young children, she shares, “Ngayon sinasabi ng mga anak ko na I’m the best mom in the world. Sana yun pa din ang sabihin nila pag laki nila.”

Simple, yet meaningful aspirations coming from the simple girl from Gen San. Jinkee Pacquiao.

Girl Talk with Jinkee

Favorite feature:

Eyes. Kasi madaming nagsasabi na maganda daw ang eyes ko.

Favorite make-up brands:

Dati pa mahilig na ako sa make-up. Pag may bagong brand, tina-try ko talaga. Madami akong ginagamit; kung ano lang yun nagustohan ko. Pero kung mayroon [favored] brand talaga , RMK and MAC siguro.

Skincare regimen:

Mayroon pang face and mayroon [separate] pang body. Bagong matulog, may facial cream and wash. Pero Belo lahat yun ginagamit ko.

Work-out:

Badminton, hindi ako nag gym. Pag nasa Gen San [badminton] everyday. Pero pag dito saa Manila diet lang — rice, puro ulam, tapos fruits and salads.

Wardrobe:

Gusto ko talaga dresses. Pag nasa States ako bumibili ako ng dresses, yun mga long. Sa pag pili, damit muna and then shoes. Mahilig ako sa high heels kulang kasi ako sa height, kaya kahit tsinelas ako, [pointing to her flipflops] may wedge.

On Style:

Wala akong stylist. Sa magazine lang ako tumitingin, tapos puro gaya lang. Di ako masyadong sumusunod sa uso.

Favorite fashion designers:

Wala ako masyadong kilala pa, pero siguro si Kate Torralba and Paul Cabral.

On her rumored amassing of Louis Vuitton bags:

Hindi naman madami. Madami akong paborito, yun favorite ko pag may nagustohan lang ako.

On being in the limelight:

“Naco-conscious ako. Baka next time laitin nila ako. Bahala sila. May iba ibang opinion. Kung ganito ako, ganito ako.”

How she wishes people to remember her:

“Sana sabihin nila na si ‘Jinkee kahit ganyan lang yan, mabait sya na tao’. Jina-judge kasi ako minsan”.

Writer's Block Philippines supports Pecha Kucha Night Manila v3 for a night of all-out creativity

Writer’s Block Philippines is proud to support Pecha Kucha Night Manila v3, a fun and totally out-of-the-box forum and networking event for creatives, that will be held at the Shangri-la Cineplex 4 on Thursday, September 2, 2010.


This isn’t your ordinary talk or meet-and-greet, however. According to the Pecha Kucha Night Manila website, “The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system… Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.”

Image courtesy of the Pecha Kucha Night Manila website
Image courtesy of the Pecha Kucha Night Manila website

“Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor. This is a demand that seems to be global – as Pecha Kucha Night, without any pushing, has spread virally to over 100 cities across the world.”

The first batch of Pecha Kucha Night Manila v3 speakers includes luminaries in the Philippine creative scene, such as fashion photographer Mark Nicdao, photographer and The Late Isobel vocalist Wawi Navarozza, design studio Electrolychee, game designers By Implication, Tuldok Animation Studios, and t-shirt and apparel graphic artist AJ Dimarucot. Click HERE to read the speakers’ profiles.

PKN v2 tickets sold out in just around two weeks, so interested parties should get in touch with PKN organizers soon to get their tickets. Click HERE for venue and ticket information, and HERE for contact details.

Pecha Kucha Night Manila is organized in the Philippines by Ideals Creatives. Visit their website to know more about the creative minds behind this trailblazing event.

Win tickets to The Age of Stupid when you join Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing 2.0

Writer’s Block Philippines is raffling tickets to the hit indie film, The Age of Stupid,to participants of the forthcoming workshop, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing 2.0.

This ambitious documentary/drama/animation hybrid stars Pete Postlethwaite as an archivist in the devastated world of the future, asking the question: “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we still had the chance?” He looks back on footage of real people around the world in the years leading up to 2015 before runaway climate change took place.It’s a very powerful film that is a true eye-opener about the effects of climate change.

The first ever Philippine screening of the film happens on August 27 at the Shangri-La Cineplex, Mandaluyong City.

For inquiries, email britishcouncil@britishcouncil.org or call (+63 2) 914 10 11 to 14 local 110 to 115.

According to the website of Spanner Films, the movie’s production house:

The production was notable for its innovative way crowd-funding financing model, as well as the Indie Screenings distribution system which allows anyone anywhere to screen the film. The full story of the production of the film is told in the 50-minute Making Of documentary which is free to watch online and also available on the double-pack DVD.

The film was released in 2009 and became one of the most talked-about films of the year. It also spawned the hugely-successful 10:10 campaign.

Read more about The Age of Stupid HERE

University of Santo Tomas presents "Literature from Shakespeare to Bob Ong"

We found this invite through our Facebook page. For those of you who are free, check it out 🙂

Please get in touch directly with the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters for details. We’re just happy to pass the message along 🙂



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GOOD NEWS TO ALL PARTICIPANTS OF JUMPSTART YOUR FREELANCE WRITING CAREER 2.0!


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A professional online portfolio is just one of the many things you will need as a freelance writer. SIGN UP FOR THE WORKSHOP TODAY and get more tools, tips, techniques, and secrets to monetize your passion for writing–straight from our panel of experts and guest speakers.

Get EXCLUSIVE TREATS from Tech Tote when you join JUMPSTART YOUR FREELANCE WRITING CAREER 2.0!

Tech Tote joins Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP)’s growing list of supporters, as the brand announced that it will be giving away EXCLUSIVE TREATS to participants of WBP’s forthcoming workshop, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career 2.0.

According to Via Medina-Perlas, Tech Tote’s proprietor, “Tech Tote was basically created as a response to friends’ requests for affordable, quality laptop bags.  The designs had to be fun and colorful but do not look like laptop bags at first glance, making them non targets for theft.  Today, Tech Tote continues to churn out fun designs to continue keeping its current and loyal Tech Tote customer base happy while attracting new ones as well.”

CHECK OUT TECH TOTE’s ONLINE CATALOG HERE or JOIN THE TECH TOTE FACEBOOK PAGE.


*TO ENJOY TECH TOTE’s EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR WBP PARTICIPANTS, YOU MUST BE ENROLLED IN JUMPSTART YOUR FREELANCE WRITING CAREER 2.0 TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE PROMO CODE.*

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“Political lessons learned from ‘The Dark Knight'” by Niña Terol (published in Inquirer Blogs, Aug. 6, 2008)

IN his piece on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight for Time, Richard Corliss writes, “Nolan has a… subversive agenda. He wants viewers to stick their hands down the rat hole of evil and see if they get bitten. With little humor to break the tension, The Dark Knight is beyond dark. It’s as black — and teeming and toxic — as the mind of The Joker.”

Having watched the film twice, first on Imax and next on a regular theater, I can’t help but agree that The Joker is a better reference for the film than its real protagonist, Batman. Spawned right from the center of Limbo, with all the qualities we find loathsome, pitiful, and yet terrifying, The Joker is a reminder of everything we don’t want human beings to become. Quoting Corliss again, the late Heath Ledger’s Joker “observes no rules, pursues no grand scheme; he’s the terrorist as improv artist.”

But I’d take it a few notches further and say that The Joker is the film’s “inverted social conscience,” the dreaded, deadly disease that makes society work together to find a cure. It is he who asks the hard questions; he who challenges the taken-for-granted assumptions; he that pushes humanity to see how low they would really sink — or how far they could really rise. He is the ultimate “necessary evil” that forces us to see just what we’re really made of. A composite of everything that is wrong, perverse, and twisted in our society, it is he who nonetheless shows us our true potentials for greatness.

It just goes to show that, in the movies — as well as in politics and the rest of real life — there’s a lot we can learn from the bad guys. We cannot simply turn our eyes away from them, or pretend they’re not there, or believe that they will simply go away. They will not– for they are here to stay. But instead of ignoring them because they’re such “bad examples,” we should study them, dissect them — even if we don’t understand them — and see how we can stop the rest of the world from joining their ranks.

Crooks (trapos included) do have a purpose. They’re there to show us what can happen if we let ourselves slide too deeply.

Which brings us to Lesson # 2: Harvey Dent.

Gotham’s fearless, charismatic new district attorney is the ultimate tragedy of human potential. He starts out as everyone’s hero, Gotham’s “White Knight” who has come to save the day, except that when he collides with the dark forces we find that his foundation was too weak to stand against the very forces that ultimately subsumed him. This is what happens when we depend on one person to be our Messiah. People are people — even in this age of celebrities, icons, and “modern-day heroes” — and they will slip, or slide, or sink (sometimes very, very low). When we pin all our hopes on just one person — or one entity or one ideal — the results can be tragic. The solution is to empower everyone to be the source of the solution, which, ironically is what The Joker attempted to do in the hospital and ferry scenes — regardless of his twisted definition of the “solution”.

Lesson #3: When push comes to shove, trust people to do the right thing.

Speaking of the ferry scene, another point the movie made very well was that everyone, even the lowest scoundrels of society, has some emergency button of goodness within them that they can access and activate even at the most desperate times of their lives. Just give them a compelling reason and just enough time (but not too much) to think through their decision, and people will almost always gravitate toward the good. I’m no expert in human behavior and so I cannot vouch for this as truth, but I believe that when we put our faith in people — and they know how important their choices will be for everyone else on board — they will do their best to make the right decision. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible, even outside of Hollywood.

Lesson #4: Sometimes, the “right thing” (or person) is difficult to understand, or even recognize.

How will you know that you’ve done the right thing? How will you know that you’ve chosen the right person? You won’t — not at the onset, or not always. Because, sometimes, the person whom you thought was the answer will leave you disappointed and asking more painful questions. If Harvey Dent had lived and had been allowed to unleash the fullness of his newfound glory upon Gotham, what would have happened? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that we cannot allow something like that to happen here. We cannot allow ourselves to be bought by the winning smile, the boy-next-door look, or the Messianic pronouncements. Even when looking at one’s track record (as in Harvey Dent’s case), we have to go over every detail very, very carefully.

Conversely, we also cannot simply discount the “dark horse” as a nuisance entity or a subversive force that must be stopped. It’s possible for the totally misunderstood rebel to be exactly what we need. Sometimes, collective understanding arrives so slowly that we are not able to recognize a hero when we see one. So we cannot trust our gut or our intellect alone. When looking at people, we need to understand the context of their actions, and also the context of the decisions we need to make. In Gotham, as in real life, nothing is truly black or white.

Lesson #5: Sometimes, we need to live with lies in order to find our truth.

Nobody understood this better than Batman himself. He has had to perpetuate a lie in order to allow justice to prevail, even allowing Two-Face to be seen as the Knight in Shining Armor that everyone needed him to be. Sometimes, we need to live with a lie in order for truth, justice, and goodness to prevail — so that the delicate threads that weave our social fabric do not disintegrate and explode into chaos.

The challenge is discerning which lies we need and which ones we should never entertain.

“Rajo Laurel, Rags 2 Riches collaborate to produce designer rag products” by Nina Terol (published in Entrepreneur Philippines, Mar 2008)

Originally published in Entrepreneur Philippines (March 2008) and reposted on Entrepreneur.com.ph (October 2009)

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Profiles

Oct 20, 2009

By Nina Terol. Photos by Walter Villa

from Entrepreneur Philippines Magazine, March 2008


At the nation’s rag capital, a group of priests, young professionals, and a top fashion designer collaborate on a social enterprise with a fashion statement

R2R story

If someone were to tell you that they had just come from Payatas with an upscale fashion find, you would likely think you had heard it all wrong. The word “Payatas,” after all, connotes images of destitute surroundings– a squalid area where impoverished families live atop mountains of garbage. It is hardly the environment you would expect for creativity and innovation, yet this is what Rags 2 Riches (R2R), a social development enterprise, found when it dug deeper into the Payatas situation.

Bro. Javy Alpasa, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic who ministers to the community around the Payatas dumpsite, relates that although he had seen clear evidence of pastoral growth among the Payatas folk, their economic circumstances had not been improving alongside with it. He then pondered the situation with a group of young professionals who wanted to do something to help.

Their assessment: Although Payatas had become well-known as the “rag capital of the Philippines,” the nanays [literally “mothers,” but here it means “women”] producing the rags were making only a measly P1 for each rag sold. In contrast, the retailers were making in huge profits of as much as P15 to P20 per rag.

They then suggested this solution: eliminate the middlemen and add value to the merchandise so the nanays can make more money from their efforts.

But most everybody agreed that the solution being offered was much easier said than done. Until one day when, during Bro. Javy’s theology class at the Ateneo de Manila University, a “heckler” whom he did not think much of as a student started the ball rolling by giving a surprise donation of P10,000. The student simply said that he had received the money as a graduation gift and he wanted to put it to really good use.

That donation was followed by another one of the same amount from another of Bro. Javy’s theology students. With
P20,000 now in his hands, he mustered enough confidence to meet again with the same group of concerned young professionals, this time to suggest a formal structure for putting their ideas into action. Thus was Rags 2 Riches born.

The original idea of the young professionals was to create “designer rags” that could be sold to the market at a premium. They came up with so many ideas and took so many steps to make this happen, but to no avail. Eventually, however, through a series of serendipitous events, they ended up at the doorsteps of Rajo Laurel, one of Asia’s top fashion designers.

As the group tells it, when they presented Laurel with a sample of the well made rags done by the Payatas women, he casually held it up with a twinkle in his eye, joined two ends, added three buttons, and said: “Now it’s a wine-holder.”

Angeline Benavidez, R2R’s vice president for sales and a long-time friend of the acclaimed designer, recalls that moment: “Rajo was so excited when he saw the product. After that, he asked us to leave the rags with him so he could make a prototype. The very next morning, he himself called us to say that the prototypes were ready.”

The end result of that meeting was an initial line of 11 well-designed accessory products made from rags–bags, totes, purses, and other personal items–under the “RIIR by Rajo” brand. They were to become an instant hit among the upscale, socially aware fashionista crowd.

Benavidez says that Laurel got himself “very involved” in the entire production process–from developing the prototypes to teaching the nanays how to carefully weave the products and assure quality control, and from determining the pricing and branding of bags to their retail distribution.

Laurel himself pushed the product “because he strongly believed in it,” Benavidez recalls. “In fact, during a fitting at the House of Laurel [his fashion shop], he personally brought in his clients so he could explain the project and show
the products to them. His clients started making orders on the spot.”

According to Mary Ann Lim, the president of R2R and concurrently its vice president for product development, one of their first big challenges was to get the nanays to accept the new standards and methods that had to be put into place to assure first-rate product quality. It was not easy at the start, but when the newly designed products were released to the market and the women saw for themselves how much the buyers appreciated their handiwork, they began to be truly quality-conscious and extra careful in making the products.

Laurel himself recounts how they were able to change the attitude of the nanays towards their enterprise: “My idea was really to change their views–to create a paradigm shift. I patiently explained to them that if they can give value to the work and give even more added value by designing it well and giving it an aesthetic touch, they can make the product command a good price.”

All these attitude-changing efforts paid off handsomely. The fashion designer rags the women made sold very well, drawing such high-profile customers and fans as Kris Aquino, Celine Lopez, Lucy Torres- Gomez, and many more celebrities. The R2R management has become so confident of the quality of the designer rags that they are hoping they would one day get to Hollywood and be sported by the likes of Angelina Jolie.

The R2R management believes that what makes their designer rag products click is not only the brand or the name behind it but, even more important, also the heartwarming success story behind the enterprise.

We didn’t want to approach the merchandise as a ‘pity buy‘,” says Mark Ruiz, an Ateneo de Manila University management professor and R2R’s vice president for marketing. “Instead, we approached it as a product that people would really want to buy and use because it was worth their money. On top of that, of course, there’s the really powerful human story of the caring and passion that went into the product’s making.”

Aside from Rajo Laurel, several other first-rate professionals volunteered their services to make the R2R product launch possible. Among them were Jake Versoza for photography, Krista Ranillo for endorsements, Maylin Vergara of the beauty salon Propaganda for makeup and styling, popular events director Robbie Carmona, and the models from the Philippines’ Next Top Model search who graced the R2R launching event.

With such star-studded support, R2R was able to parley its initial capital P20,000 in the designer rag products into sales revenues reaching P200,000 during the first three months alone. The market demand for the products has been growing since then, so R2R has been steadily expanding production.

Bam Aquino, a media personality and well-known social entrepreneur who is one of R2R’s board members, is convinced that they did something right by establishing a social enterprise instead of a nonprofit organization.

Part of R2R’s long-range plans is to also venture into men’s accessories and home accessories for both the domestic and export markets.

Bro. Javy makes this observation about R2R’s social enterprise model: “It’s a win-win formula. The Payatas women earn more, and the investors hopefully would earn more over time, certainly more than what they could make from time deposits or from putting up other enterprises. The adage ‘A high tide raises all boats’ rings true here.”

Indeed, the experience of R2R has shown that in social development, encouraging productive social partnerships between and across sectors is much better than espousing one-way philanthropy and charitable dole outs to the poor. This is because such productive social partnerships teach people to experiment, to innovate, and to compete well with other businesses to survive and thrive.


R2R merchandise is currently available at:
HOUSE OF LAUREL
6013 J. Villena cor. Manalac Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Telephone: (02) 426-6101 locals 3440 and 3441
Mobile: 0905-32739999
E-mail: r2rcorp@gmail.com
Website: http://slb.ph/r2r/riir/riirhome.html