“Vegging Out” (Smile Magazine)

“Vegging Out” (Smile Magazine)


15 Annapolis Street, Gold Building, San Juan, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City Tel: +63 (2) 723 3660 Open daily from 10am-9pm

WHAT IT IS A casual eatery that mainly serves 100% raw food and other meat-free gastronomic delights. It also offers organic and all-natural food and non-food products.

CROWD PLEASERS Specialty appetizers include mock salmon paté and Asian sushi rolls. Familiar foods such as fettucini Alfredo and pad Thai are also raw.

TRIED AND TASTED “Colorful and light, the Asian sushi rolls taste so refreshing, healthy and delicious.” – Rosalie Suarez


7274 Malugay Street, Barangay San Antonio, Makati City Tel: +63 (918) 450 1714 Open Sunday–Thursday, 12pm–9pm and Friday-Saturday, 12pm–11pm

WHAT IT IS A hole-in-the-wall noodle house with vegetarian options.

CROWD PLEASERS Go for the viet phó, the shoyu ramen, or the filling Vietnamese bahn mi (Vietnamese baguette).

TRIED AND TASTED “Treat your taste buds to some Wabi-Sabi. The Vietnamese noodles are awesome.” – Joseph Bolintiam


92 Scout Castor Street, Quezon City Tel: +63 (2) 415 4796 greensresto@gmail.com Open from Monday–Saturday, 11am–10pm and Sundays, 12pm–9pm

WHAT IT IS One of the more established vegetarian restaurants. Greens has been serving lacto vegetarian cuisine since 2001.

CROWD PLEASERS Start with the Greens house salad, then choose from the bestselling dishes like the mushroom tofu burger. Carnivores will love the taste of the veggie sisig and grilled mushroom and tofu kebabs. Accompany your meal with some freshly squeezed dalandan juice.

TRIED AND TASTED “I have a hearty appetite and a liking for fatty, absolutely bad-for-the-heart food like pork sisig. I found a healthy substitute for my sisig craving in Greens. I like the texture and I love the taste.” – Suby Cayabyab

Read original article here

“Pod Living” (Business World)

Pod Living

WHETHER ONE is traveling for business or leisure, it is customary to stay overnight in a hotel whatever the destination may be.

Unlike the usual hotels, however, Travelers Pod in Cagayan de Oro can tailor fit its accommodations to any traveler’s needs.

This cozy hotel offers a place to stay for those who are in town for either just a short stopover or an overnight visit. Open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Travelers Pod is situated right in the heart of the city at the Gateway Tower inside the Limketkai Complex.

It is just a stone’s throw away from one of the city’s major malls and across the main thoroughfare that leads to other parts of the city and nearby provinces such as Butuan and Iligan. It is also just seven kilometers away from the airport, which makes it very convenient for people on-the-go.

The Travelers Pod has a pay-per-use concept that allows travelers to book their accommodation preference. The most basic type is the pod rest or single pod (pictured) where one can avail of reasonably priced hourly hotel rates.

It includes a single pod with a curtain enclosure (P350) to ensure privacy. This is perfect for transient travelers who need a place to rest and relax for just a short time, whether to attend a convention, an event or some other occasion.

Guests also have the option of availing of the hotel’s hot and cold shower facility, which also includes the use of towel and toiletries so travelers can freshen up before painting the town red.

The hotel also has its own baggage check-in facility where guests can secure their luggage and other belongings for a minimum fee.

Transients will also be pleased to know that the hotel has a battery charging facility and offers ticketing services. No need to head to a travel agent to book a flight home.

For the traditional traveler, the hotel also offers rooms called private pods, which can take in two people or more, depending on the size.

The deluxe pod (P1,000) has room for two persons while the executive pod (P2,000) is big enough for five people.

These private pods have their own bathrooms that come with a set of toiletries and bathrobes to boot. The rooms also have a centralized cable television system, which any weary traveler would appreciate.

Guests may also choose to rent a DVD player from the hotel and get a selection of videos to keep themselves entertained during their stay.

The design and décor of all these pods are done in earth tones, which add more to the warmth of the place and its fine ambience. Its subdued lighting and cool atmosphere also makes it a very relaxing and comfortable place to stay — at least for an hour.

To maximize the travel experience, the hotel provides whole body spa packages such as a relaxing full-body massage, foot massage, and even manicure and pedicure. Its well-trained staff is available any time of the day for such spa services.

Guests may choose to pamper themselves in one of the single pod rests or inside their own private pod. There is also an option to select all the treatments at a special package rate. After indulging in a treatment, guests will be served a pot of complimentary hot tea.

The hotel even caters to the needs of those who want to stay connected with free Wi-Fi Internet access in the entire place. Another option would be to catch up on work at the hotel’s in-house coffee shop found at the ground floor. It is a simple and quiet place where one can hang out while enjoying a light snack.

When traveling to this part of northern Mindanao, there is no need to worry about finding a place to stay for as short as an hour or as long as a day, as the Travelers Pod is always open to assist travelers.

Travelers Pod is at Gateway Tower, Limketkai Center, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. For inquiries, call (088) 851-8988, (+63917) 717-6910.

Nikka Sarthou writes about raw food chef (Herword.com)

Does one really need to be a chef in order to prepare raw food? How difficult could it be to mix together a few leafy greens, sliced veggies, and vinaigrette? There’s actually more to raw food and its preparation than putting together a simple salad. Vegan raw food chef and health coach, Cheloy Ignacio, can actually whip up your favorite comfort food using all raw ingredients. She has been doing so for years now, ever since she became a raw food advocate. Her passion for it has led to opening her own raw food restaurant aptly called RawVolution—Cheloy’s Living Food Cuisine.

Chef Cheloy did not always live on raw food. In fact, she used to own one of the most successful ensaymada businesses out there. And when she was younger, she used to indulge on very fatty foods such as bacon and aligue (crab fat). She says, back then, she could finish two kilos of prawns in one sitting, and that her favorite part of the shrimp was its head with all its fatty goodness. But that is all in the past now. Nowadays, she is happy and content on living on fresh fruits, vegetables, and everything else that would be suitable to her raw food lifestyle.

The defining moment

The raw food diet is not the first diet she has tried. She has experimented with practically all kinds of diets before, but none really worked. For her, a diet is not only a means to change her physical appearance; she actually wanted to overhaul her health. At the young age of 19, she was diagnosed with preeclampsia while she was pregnant with her first child. The fluctuation in her blood pressure and sugar level had a negative—and ultimately, fatal—effect on her baby. The baby passed away a couple of days before her due date. But going through that traumatic situation did not change Cheloy’s lifestyle. Her unhealthy way of life put her in and out of the hospital. Her blood pressure even reached as high as 280/110, and at the age of 23, she suffered a mild stroke.

From that time on, until she was about in her mid-forties, she became a regular visitor to hospitals and also became very dependent on medication. She experienced so many different ailments that her application for health insurance was not approved. For years, she survived on her medications, until one day, she had the strength to say to herself that enough is enough. Her will to live free from any sickness was so strong that she was able to find a way to do so.

In her quest for good health, she came across some information about raw food diet and became so passionate with it that she gave up her successful ensaymada business for it. Her interest in it led her to the US where raw food is all the rage. She went to Boston and studied raw food preparation under Alissa Cohen. Now she is a certified health coach and raw food chef, and she is putting both to good use in her restaurant, Rawvolution-Cheloy’s Living Food Cuisine.

When Cheloy is not preparing some seaweed salad or some other dish, she is teaching raw and vegetarian food preparation.

A lifestyle change

For Cheloy, the raw food diet is not just a craze; it has become part of her daily life. Since she has integrated this diet in her life in 2006, she never took maintenance medicines like she had to before. Her general health has greatly improved, and most especially, her zest for life. Her priorities have changed, too.

Cheloy admitted she used to be so vain that she would spend thousands of pesos on cosmetic products, and burn more money on her other indulgences. As her perception changed, she learned to give up those luxuries and prioritized her health instead. Now, she would rather spend more on updating her restaurant’s kitchen equipment rather than adding another coveted beauty product to her cosmetic collection.

Health is her number one priority now. She cringes every time she thinks about what happened in the past. She enjoys living healthy now and even confessed that she does not have cravings for normal cooked foods anymore. She would rather prepare a fresh banana shake in the morning rather than go back to her old lifestyle where she had her daily dose of maintenance medicines. She found healing through her raw food diet. Aside from providing the necessary nutrition she needs, eating raw food helped eliminate the toxins in her body. Since raw food is high in fiber but low in cholesterol and sugar, it showed a great improvement in her blood pressure, blood circulation and other body functions.

Cheloy also lost about five pounds within three days of getting into the raw food diet. She hopes to inspire others to try eating raw food and living a healthier life. Cheloy happily shares that, “This is my lifestyle and this is my choice.”

Rawvolution-Cheloy’s Living Food Cuisine is located at #15 Annapolis St., Gold Building, Greenhills, San Juan. For inquiries, you may call (+632)916-6484541.

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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”.

“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)



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:
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

"Pilipinas Kong Mahal" by Niña Terol (published in Cosmopolitan Philippines, Oct 2009)

(Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Cosmopolitan Philippines)


One girl shares her musings about her love for the Philippines despite, in spite, and because of…

by Niña Terol

In many ways, my relationship with my country is like my relationship with my family. There are days when I’m extremely proud to be Pinoy. Then, there are other days–just like those moments of extreme parental angst or sibling animosity–when I just want to fly away, cut all my ties, and never look back.

Nonetheless, there are some things that will forever bind me to this country. Like blood, the soil we were born on will always be thicker than water.

Tongue Ties

Like our family names, our accents are undeniable. While at a world music festival at Malaysia last year, I tried to go for as long as I could without anyone knowing that I am Filipino since my name is Spanish, I am Eurasian, and my first language is English. The moment I spoke up at a press conference, however, heads turned and I heard people say, “She’s Filipina!” Later on, another journalist came up to me and said, “I love Filipino accents–the way you roll your Rs, it’s so sexy!” Apparently, just like many other nationalities, we have very distinct accents that no amount of English twang will be able to hide. The best way to deal? To interact with others in ways that bring bride to our country.

This is “The Life”

Life here is never boring. Evening gigs, holiday fiestas, beach outings, food sprees, walking tours, cultural performances, scandals to watch over YouTube–we have them all. Simply take your pick!

And, in as much as things can get exciting, then can get extremely cozy as well. There are days when I simply crave for chicken tinola, sinigang na baboy, pork adobo, or chicken inasal. On Saturday mornings when it’s chilly, I’m reminded of childhood days of watching cartoons, my taste buds craving for champorado.

Citizen Pinoy

We may hate our government or the people around us, but we can’t hate the values our nation was founded on. Yes, the government bureaucracy is corrupt, systems are crooked (if any exist at all), and people can sometimes be downright stupid, greedy, or evil. I hate the large potholes that the city government has left on my street, and I can’t stand to see children begging on the sidewalk while the Powers that Be spend millions to fund their lavish lifestyles. No matter how low things seem to be, however, we can’t deny the fact that our forefathers fought valiantly against oppression, that it was we Filipinos who introduced People Power to the world, and that our nation was founded on ideals of truth, freedom, dignity, patriotism, brotherhood, faith, and love of family.

Home and Heartstrings

This is where I was born and raised; where I spent my wonderful childhood days; where I stumbled, fell, made mistakes, and learned about life. Here, too, is where I met the man I’m spending the rest of my life with. Wherever else I may go in the future, it is here where my heart was formed. However I look at my life, it has the Philippines etched all over it–and that’s not always a bad thing.