As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth II’s death, it cannot be ignored that people felt like they’ve lost a mother, a leader whom they can all look up to. Her reign was eventful as it was legendary– and one could only hope that the next leader would be as astounding and dedicated as she was.
One of the longest reigns in the history of the British Monarch has come to an end. Queen Elizabeth II, an icon and a ruler, died on September 8, 2022, at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Her leadership style and dedication to her role have become a constant reminder of the monarch’s stability and power, and in her death, her legacy still resonates.
Queen Elizabeth II had an eventful and record-breaking reign in a contemporary monarchy. She assumed the throne when she was 25, after her father’s death in 1952. Her reign, spanning 70 years, has witnessed quite a several historical and groundbreaking events, most of which changed the course of humanity. She has seen the downfall of the British Empire, the birth of the internet and the smartphone, and took part in welcoming new norms and trends throughout her life. With all these experiences combined, Queen Elizabeth II played the long game.
Her impeccable influence
Through the years, Queen Elizabeth II has become a beacon of stability– not only for her subjects but for the whole world. Despite the chaotic slew of events that coincided with her reign, she was one of the vital reasons as to why the monarchy survived and continues to hold power and influence to this day.
In leading the British empire, and later on the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II has consistently been an enigma– in a way that her decisions are calculated and precise, yet almost nobody truly knows what is going on inside her mind. Her reign has also been full of scandals and exposes, most of which tarnished the image of the Royal Family. However, despite everything that happened, her influence as the Queen remained and the monarchy regained its reputation every time.
Her staunch beliefs, though reminiscent of the old colonial past of Britain, also evolved as the world’s perspective changed. Radical shifts and new norms were welcomed as the Royal Family embraced the modern era. Queen Elizabeth II has a favorability rating of 75 percent, which played a huge role in how the monarchy continues to be relevant in the current times.
Her unique leadership style
Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t born into immense pressure– she was far in the line of succession back when her uncle, Edward, was the heir to the throne. When he abdicated in favor of her father, King George VI, she immediately became the heir to the throne. Her discipline and utmost dedication to her work were highlighted, and they helped in accomplishing her steadfast vision for the monarchy.
She worked incredibly hard at her job. Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the type to stay stagnant as a leader, she would always have engagements, both local and foreign, to expand relations and oversee operations throughout the entire Commonwealth. In turn, all the countries under the Commonwealth look up to her as an unchanging leader, whom they follow and admire.
One may view Queen Elizabeth II’s leadership style as apolitical and neutral, which she is constantly known for (and sometimes praised for) at times. The people of the Commonwealth valued her neutrality and deemed it vital for their countries’ stability. Despite the current political climate, the Commonwealth remained powerful and significant.
As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth II’s death, it cannot be ignored that people felt like they’ve lost a mother, a leader whom they can all look up to. Her reign was eventful as it was legendary– and one could only hope that the next leader would be as astounding and dedicated as she was. As people look forward to the new reign, it cannot be denied that Queen Elizabeth II did an adequate job in shaping the present– and who knows, with her long-standing legacy, maybe even the future.
“No act is too small to make your country better,” said Leviste during a valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact.
“Being Batangueño is the best thing ever,” began Ronin Leviste, the uber-passionate and ultra-proud yet humble recently elected 23-year-old Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas. “We have the most beautiful province in the entire country — beyond the instagrammable mountains and world-class beaches, it is our people [my fellow Batangueños] and their stories who can showcase all the best my province has to offer. We’re already so near [Manila], but we still have a lot more infrastructure coming in soon, surely putting us in a sweet spot for rapid development.”
Following in his father’s footsteps
Politics was never an alien concept to Ronin. His father is Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste, whose flourishing career began over two decades ago. As soon as he could walk, Ronin was already accompanying his father to constituent consultations, sessions, and the campaign trails. Seeing his father work closely with communities inspired the young man to follow in his footsteps.
As a student at Xavier, Ronin developed outreach programs growing up and played a role in the social action arm of the school. He recalls a great memory when he started a movement of the solar light building with his barkada in the school’s science lab and then installed them in underprivileged dim communities in Batangas and Mindanao.
While in college at De La Salle University, Leviste received two of the highest honors, the Br. Gabriel Connon Award and the Gawad Francisco Ortigas Jr. Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader Award. In his final year at school, he served as Vice President for External Affairs of the University Student Government. To top it all off, he graduated Magna Cum Laude in Development Studies with the Best Undergraduate Thesis Award.
Creating a positive impact
During the university’s 192nd Commencement Exercise, Leviste gave a rousing valedictory speech to his fellow graduates, encouraging them to make a positive impact. “Everyone here has a different timeline, everyone here has a unique story, but the commonality that binds us is that we all have talents, opportunities, and skills worth sharing when put together, with almost no limit to what the world can expect from us. More importantly, we all have an equal role to play in the development of the Philippines that we call our home. So when our country needs us, we, as Lasallian leaders, must always respond with unconditional service to the nation because to build the nation is to love.” It was Leviste’s wake-up call to his peers: that no act is too small to make your country better.
Education as his advocacy
Ronin soon began building his political career, serving as Sangguniang Kabataan Kagawad in Makati and as the Youth Affairs Head of the office of the Vice Governor. He then ran as Municipal Vice-Mayor of Lian, Batangas, as an independent candidate.
While he is one of the youngest vice mayors in the country, Ronin never takes it for granted. Apart from what he learned from his father and other mentors, he humbly credits his success to his education — learning loads from school and the people around him. The Batangueño says that education is one of his main advocacies as Vice-Mayor. “Education can uplift people from poverty and give them an extra sense of fulfillment. I learned so much from it, but it also taught me that there is still so much more to learn, so much more to do, so much more to serve,” he muses.
“Everything starts with a vision,” he says. “And mine begins by building a Tomorrow Together. For me, this means we leave absolutely no one behind. I want the Philippines where everyone can wake up in the morning knowing they have food on their tables, that they have jobs sufficient to provide for their family, and that their kids go to school and now have the means to do so. All of this will help uplift families to a better future — giving everyone equal opportunities in life. It is a daunting task ahead, but our generation has shown that if anyone can lead this change — it’s us.”
PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents. It is now one of the country’s top logistics superstars.
It is 4 in the morning and Beverly Anne Arcangel is already getting out of bed. These early hours are precious for the Managing Director of Prozone Xpress Logistics INC. (PXL) because it won’t be long before her phone starts ringing off the hook. Though the majority of PXL’s clients are from China and Intra-Asia, Europe and the United States are also at par so she needs to be awake when they are.
The 43-year-old begins her routine with a session/flow of Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ), a traditional Japanese practice that helps harmonize one’s energy by holding different parts of the body. Beverly puts herself in a state of peace and relaxation. After that, she makes her way towards the fairway, yoga, or Pilates studio, but manages time to reply to every e-mail in her inbox. By the time the sun is shining bright, she already managed to put on her #GirlBoss hat even before she arrives at the office.
“I wear different hats in the office, “ she says while explaining her daily routine. Being in the logistics industry means new and unexpected situations happen daily. As Managing Director (without a General Manager), it is up to Beverly to be on top of everything – making sure her team is running like a well-oiled machine. While Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. is a relatively new company, Beverly and her team have quickly elevated it to become one of the country’s top logistics superstars. They handle diverse industries from the shipment of luxury furniture and lifestyle items to medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, appliances, construction materials, retail, trading, and essentials (IT, telecommunication, water, agriculture, etc). PXL has established a network coverage of 150 cities in 75 countries across six continents.
Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. maneuvered during the pandemic by being quick and agile. She also credits her partner, her co-Managing Director at PXL along with her colleagues whose hard work, commitment, and passion for logistics made them the ideal power team. Taking pride in their unique customer service approach which makes them different from competitors, “I always say, I don’t just give a quotation to the customer, I ensure to give them a solutions-focused and client-first approach that require precision, timing, foresight, and flexibility. I listen to their requirements then I customize our services depending on their needs,“ she explains. “I always tell my team, that it is all about personalized service.”
While many companies were minimizing manpower during the pandemic, Beverly did the exact opposite. She made sure that PXL’s clients always had somebody to talk to directly about their concerns. Her way of doing business helped foster strong relationships with her clients, who ultimately trusted the company with all their logistical needs.
The business of logistics
The business of logistics is high stakes and nerve-racking. One small mistake could cost millions. “If you miss information like the correct chargeable weight or correct volume in a cubic meter of a shipment, then everything changes. And a mistake translates to a monetary loss in dollars, not in pesos. This is the reason why it is called LOGISTICS – because this work requires LOGIC.”
Remembering her journey was an emotional process for the successful businesswoman. Throughout the interview, she held back genuine tears. Beverly was somebody else’s employee for a good 19 years, and now she is calling the shots. Yet, her success has not gone to her head. She remains humble, knowing that her quiet strength can be harnessed into gold. “Last June 2022, one of the Philippines’ leading shipping lines called a meeting with me. Announcing that Prozone Xpress Logistics Inc. was noticed as one of the top 10 importers/producers for their line. I was so proud to be in a roster of the big logistics players in the country.” As we ended the interview, I realized that life can indeed begin at 40. All you need is a little strength, a lot of prayers, and a lot of logic.
The Lam siblings remember their childhood as a busy one. “During the holidays, our friends would leave town, and we’d be working. Truth be told, back then, there was resentment. Why did we have to work?” recalled Aimee. What the trio didn’t realize was that they were part of a family legacy. Their parents are Joey and Herminia Lam,the husband-wife power duo who founded Fighter Lock Philippines Corporation (FLPC) in 1986, one of the country’s leading distributors of hardware, construction, and electrical materials. While their peers were enjoying the simple joys of childhood, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich were training to take on the keys of the family kingdom.
The journey wasn’t easy. Unlike other COOs (Children of Owner), their parents strongly believed that their children needed to start from the bottom. As early as grade school, the siblings were asked to man the stores, make deliveries, and learn the behind-the-scenes nature of their homegrown company. Alvin, the firstborn, was the first to find his footing within FLPC. “He was a bit of a wild child,” Aimee shared with a laugh. As a way to deal with his rowdiness, Alvin was sent to China to learn Mandarin. It wasn’t long before he was homesick. The eldest son begged his parents to let him come back to the Philippines, promising that he would finally shape up. He kept his word and soon began running the business’ daily operations.
Aimee had a similar journey. She went to Canada to study, as a way of escaping the dullness of a daily routine. Although she was looking to do something entirely different, she realized her heart belonged back at home. “They told us time and time again, that this was our bread and butter. They frequently told us their rags to riches story. I felt that it was such a waste to throw this opportunity away if we didn’t continue it.” She moved back home, ultimately taking her place as the company’s head of finance.
Their youngest sibling, Alrich, also felt a sense of resentment as a child because he was asked to work early on. Growing up around his older siblings (Aimee is 4 years older, while Alvin is 10) and seeing them contribute to the company’s success, he came on board after college, handling the FLPC’s marketing department. “I realized, all the experiences we had mattered because they helped us become who we are today,” Alrich says.
Another important lesson instilled into them by their parents is that they are all equal. While many traditional Chinese families believe that the eldest should be the most respected, the Lams reject that dogma. Because of this, they can challenge each other’s perspectives, which have been an instrument in the company’s continuous growth.
As a trio, Alvin, Aimee, and Alrich have been able to bring FLPC into the modern age. The three put their minds together to build a professional image, as well as streamline operations, that propelled the company from a small family business to a thriving corporation. Under their watch, FLPC has expanded from being more than a distributor, but also a creator of their own brands: LAMCO (plumbing needs), Aimee (locks and keys), and Kantt (LED lighting).
Although their success was born from resentment, the Lam siblings are certain that they are where they’re supposed to be. “We can do anything when we’re together,” Aimee shared. As they continue to construct their empire, the Lams have embraced their destiny with open minds and a smile.
“Whatever I do in life, I always look at the consequences of my actions. Regardless of being a representative, a teacher, a lawyer, or anything, I always want to be a ripple of change,” shares Atty. Nograles.
“People are always telling me that I’m the girl with no rest,” said Atty. Margarita Ignacia “Migs” Nograles with a cheeky grin. Earlier that day, she took her House of Representatives Oath, officially making her a representative of the PBA Party-list in Congress on July 1. Between her oath-taking, Nograles was a busy bee. She began the morning with her usual fitness ritual (meditation and a daily run), before answering e-mails, attending meetings, managing associates at her law firm, and doing her duties as a public servant.
It doesn’t stop there. Nograles finished shooting a new episode of Paano ba Attorney?, a TV program where she gives free legal advice to anyone who needs it. On the weekends, she works as a law professor, preparing her students for The Bar through review classes. Atty. Migs is also continuing her Master’s Degree in law, after taking a few short courses at Harvard Kennedy School and passing her Arbitration Accreditation courses. Could she be bionic? Probably not—but she’s certainly a Superwoman.
The Lady Boss
As a #LadyBoss who wears many hats, it’s very impressive to learn that Atty. Migs is only 31 years old. “[I love my job] because I get to help people,” she says with an ardent smile.
Her Davao-based firm NICAD (Nograles, Ilagan, Cayco, Aban, and Dabi Law) is committed to helping the general public find solutions in a cost-efficient and a highly-sustainable way. She and her partners participate in a lot of Pro bono work and free legal advice. “The practice of law is really to use your knowledge to help your client’s concern. We just had our anniversary on the first. We’ve already been operating for a year, and we’re still surviving. Even with free legal advice, we’re managing to stay afloat.” The firm is already looking to expand with an office in Manila sometime this year.
The Pro bono cases the firm accepts vary on different issues that each partner is passionate about. Atty. Migs, in particular, has a strong stance against domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and all forms of bullying. Not just for women and children, but men and the LGBTQI community, as well. “While growing up, I was a victim of bullying,” she says. “When I got older, I realized that a lot of friends had also been victims of violence. It is something very dear to me, and something I want to protect now.” While she was in office, Nograles had to take a small step back. She had to take a leave from the firm but still makes an effort to oversee her associates daily.
Paano ba Attorney?
Although she can’t physically appear in courtrooms at the moment, Nograles continues to use her skills through different avenues. For instance, in her show Paano ba Attorney? offers free legal advice to their viewers. Originally conceived as a short Facebook Live show during the pandemic, it has grown in popularity. The fourth season (which is currently in production) will be broadcasted on local television.
Nograles shares that their team receives 300 to 400 videos/messages a day from people seeking out her expertise. “It keeps me on my toes,” she shares. “It keeps me updated with the newest laws, and makes me feel fulfilled being able to answer questions on the spot. Also, [it’s great] to be able to help people with [nothing in return] but a simple thank you.”
It runs in the blood
You can say that public service runs through Atty. Migs’ blood. Her father is late Speaker Prospero C. Nograles, and her brothers, Karlo and Jericho, both hold positions in government. Watching them do their work (particularly their role in giving free education to thousands of youths), inspired her to be in politics.
Just a few months shy of her 32nd birthday, she will be entering the House of Representatives as a newly minted congresswoman, under the PBA Partylist. Even without having officially begun, the passionate attorney is already working on bills she is eager to pass. “What I plan to submit as a bill is the Domestic Abuse Law Bill. I’m working on it already. Another one is the expansion of the Solo Parents Act. In the law, solo parents don’t have additional support for education, which they need,” she states with assured vigor.
Supporting youths and athletes
As a former athlete, Nograles also wants to ensure that homegrown talents are given proper funding. She is advocating for sports legislation, sports protection, and grass-root support for local athletes.
Through the Party List, she hopes that she can establish standard and retirement benefits for emerging sportspersons. Her family’s work through the Nograles Scholars Program (which supported youths and athletes) truly inspired the young woman to help emerging Filipino talents.
She remembers boxer Nesthly Petecio (an Olympic Silver medalist) as one of the athletes they helped through the program. “Just look at her now,” she says with a proud smile. “Athletes should focus on training and shouldn’t worry about [the resources to do it]. Small issues like this are what I want to push in terms of legislation.”
While Migs Nograles is just beginning her career as a congresswoman, she has already done so much to help those around her. Her desire to build a better Philippines reflects on her already flourishing career. It’s exciting to be in the audience and see the climb of this political superstar. “When I was a part of the Ateneo Student Leaders Assembly, they taught us to be a ripple of change,” she remembers. “Whatever I do in life, I always look at the consequences of my actions. Regardless of being a representative, a teacher, a lawyer, or anything, I always want to be a ripple of change.”
With such passion in her voice, it’s easy to believe her. However, to reach real “change,” one is afforded very little rest. Luckily for us, Nograles never does.
As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”
Ricky Lee has spent a good chunk of his career writing scripts for films. Like his screen films, he assumes multiple forms and shadows, complexity, and simplicity in one sleek package.
Filipino film buffs have bought this package, making Ricky, one of the best and most multi-awarded scriptwriters in the Philippines today. Some of his finest Filipino films include Himala, Moral, Brutal, Salome, Madrasta, Curacha, and Miguel/Michelle, among many others.
Aside from his many years of teaching at UP and the Ateneo, he has been conducting scriptwriting workshops, proof of his generosity in imparting career secrets to aspiring and upcoming writers.
Ricky is also a well-known fictionist, having won several literary awards. He has published an anthology of some of his works in 20 years in fiction, journalism, and film (Si Tatang at Mga Himala ng Ating Panahon.)
Ricky recalls that his scripts of Brutal and Moral had five to seven drafts before he finally perfected them.
“Talagang madugo, hindi bawat revision may nabago lang, talagang overhaul ng skeleton,” he shared during a past interview. “Kasi ‘yong first sequence ng Brutal walang makaintindi kundi si Marilou (Diaz-Abaya). So you have to be patient and concentrate para mag ugat ang mga paa mo. Kailangan mayroong matatag na foundation.”
In writing a script, Ricky follows not just his own judgment. “Natanggap ko na na magkakaroon ng sariling buhay yong script. Whatever will be good for the script doon ako susunod,” he said. “I’m willing to adjust to the popular taste of the audience. Dahil gusto kong ma-reach ang audience ko kaya ako nagsusulat.”
He culled most of his ideas from real-life experiences; some from his imagination. “The ideas in terms of the situation, characters, and images are mostly from outside influences and the environment. Then the inside which is the emotion.”
Length of time
In his early years as a scriptwriter, Ricky could finish a script in a month (the longer script took three months at the most). Now he can finish a script in one or two days.
For instance, the script of the movie Mapusok (starred by Rosanna Roces) was written for two days. As well as Malikot na Mundo (1997) and Sinner or Saint (1984). “I wrote Sinner or Saint on the airplane while going home from Brazil. Pagbaba ko ng airport, may script na ako,” shared Ricky.
The film Andrea by Superstar Nora Aunor was written in less than seven days. The longest material he wrote was Moral. “Hanggang nag shooting na nag-revise pa ako. Nagdidikta ako ng lines kay Marilou over the phone,” said Ricky, “because we wanted to find the best way of telling the story.”
Yet, it was the most fulfilling movie for Ricky.
Working with the best directors
His first year in the industry was a big advantage for Ricky because it was during this period that he got the chance to work with the local cinema’s best directors.
“Nakatrabaho ko agad sina Ishmael Bernal, Mike De Leon, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Mel Chionglo, Lino Brocka, para akong nag workshop ng todo,” he said.
When he was working with Marilou he learned a different technique. “Expand. Push. When you develop the characters huwag kang nakakahon. Let’s go unstructured. Most of my works with her are mostly on women, like the trilogy of Brutal, Moral, and Karnal. We clicked because she’s a woman. Hindi ko kailanman ma-approximate ‘yong mga alam niyang nuances, malinaw sa kanya ang pagkababae.”
With Ismael Bernal, he learned how to go “classical and structured.”
Meanwhile, Mike De Leon was very conscious of details.
Whereas, Lino Brocka was grounded in one kind of social and political philosophy. “Laging malinaw iyon kay Lino. That’s very reassuring kasi alam mo ang direction,” he said.
Working with dexterous directors (with different approaches) has stretched Ricky’s creative side to the most. From 1979 up to now, Ricky is full-time in the movies. There may be ups and downs in his career, but there will always be people around who will pull him back from leaving the industry.
Nowadays, half of his time is spent writing scripts; the other half he devotes to writing literature, journalism, and theatre. And of course, teaching.
“I will never stop teaching even if it’s difficult to teach because I’m always grounded with reality,” he explained. “Kung puro showbiz ako, lulutang ako, maaaburido ka, o mababaliw ka kasi ang daming humihila sa iyo sa iba’t ibang sides. Mawawalan ka ng perspective.”
Working with the stars
Among the stars he has worked with, he particularly cherished the times when he became close with Nora Aunor. He first worked with Nora in Himala. But they became good friends while they were doing Andrea.
“Kasi trabahong kaibigan talaga ‘yon. We’re still friends up to now, but not as close as before,” he disclosed. Ricky related that he’s not close with celebrities. He keeps a distance from them as much as possible.
Ricky’s turbulent childhood has taught him to face life’s challenges and to excel in one’s talent. He endured many hardships in his struggle to become the country’s multi-awarded scriptwriter.
He typifies the rags-to-riches story. He was born into immigrant families originally from Fujian, China, and was raised in Daet, Bicol. He had a desolate childhood after his parents died when he was still young. He grew up under the care of a relative.
He excelled in school both in Daet and UP. His college days were something for the books. He experienced hunger and loneliness and was jailed for one year during Martial Law for his student activism.
He didn’t resent his past. Rather, he became selfless. He uses his life experiences, struggles, idealism, and intelligence to create over 70 screenplays that have stimulated many Filipino moviegoers. For those pieces of work, he earned more than 30 (and counting) trophies from all the award-giving bodies in the local movie industry.
Because of his upbringing, Ricky related that he became a very shy person. However, he got over his shyness when he entered show business. “I was extremely shy because my father was also extremely shy. We hardly talked. But he loved me. I was very sure of that,” he intimated.
Behind his reserved manner are his witty punchlines. “Defense ko ‘yon para hindi nila ako tingnan sa likod,” he said. “I’m very trusting, but deep inside I’m afraid to trust people. Kasi ilang beses na akong nauntog.”
As a child, he was wont to read almost everything. “Ang feeling ko noon parang inaarmasan ko ang sarili ko. So I accumulated a lot of knowledge. Basa ako nang basa ng libro since I was seven years old.” But he always wanted to become a writer.
When he was in his fourth year of high school at Daet Chung Hua High School, he wanted to run away from home but there was no chance. He had no money.
“Then I read an ad from Free Press (Filipino) that they would accept the short story. Pinadala ko ‘yong story ko (entitled ‘Mayon’) and it was accepted. Every week, binabantayan kong lumabas ang story ko. Finally, when I saw my byline, na reaffirm ‘yong pag-alis ko sa Bicol. I was paid Php50 for my story. That was the happiest time for me as a writer. Then I came to Manila.”
Ricky said that he experienced the most personal growth during his Bicol and UP years. “Those were the happiest years of my life. And also the starvation years for me,” he said.
As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”
By Ruby Asoy-Lebajo
(Based on the feature article published in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author)
Referred to as ‘CHOSE,’ Chari and Rose have successfully launched some of the country’s most innovative and fastest-growing retail brands in the pandemic.
COVID-19 paved the way for a new normal. Streets were quiet, malls closed, with people afraid of leaving their homes prompting the boom in online shopping. The indoors provided solace and its interface are digital. This was the formula that kickstarted Rose and Chari’s ventures.
“The pandemic was the great equalizer. It gave new opportunities to those whose eyes are constantly seeking,” said the company’s leading Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rose Tolentino. While many slowed down, the duo went the opposite direction and launched not just one but multiple brands from personal and men’s care to food.
“2020 was the year. We felt the consumerist landscape was changing so to adapt was imperative for survival,” said Rose. “We were fueled to see the opportunity lying ahead so we did our best, and have been continuing to do so. We felt it would be an injustice to God not to do well. That was our motivation and push,” said Chari.
OMO! White, the company’s first successful brand scaled when it closed a partnership with the country’s biggest household cosmetic company, Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc (EBCI). What once was a Korean-inspired product line is now manufactured in Korea. “The best of Korean technology with the Filipino skin in mind,” Creative Chief Officer (CCO) Chari Trinidad-Mendoza, says. OMO! White is now in nearly 2,000 doors nationwide in all leading beauty & department stores.
Building a team that runs 100% online, the duo found the system worked to the advantage of their millennial team. No longer bound by the regular ‘8-5’ office demands meant clockwork capacity for their members’ optimum hours. “You know creativity can spring at 3 A.M. I guess you can call it ‘structured flow,’ says Rose.
Oh Crop! Is an Adlai brand to serve the ballooning health-conscious consumer market. It is an alternative to the Filipino staple white rice, packed with nutrients, low in glycemic index (GI), and high in fiber. Partnering with celebrity restaurateur Marvin Agustin, the company has hectares of personally-owned and contracted land whilst pioneering the first Adlai-financing system with UBX and multiple LGUs to further encourage sustainable livelihood for their partner farmers. The brand is currently available at The Marketplace under the Robinsons Retail Group.
Halal-certified with a core philosophy of ‘beauty is kindness,’ Rosie Posie is a 4-step skincare kit made specifically for Filipino women in Visayas and Mindanao. it is a brand promoting gentle and natural ingredients that aims to take care of you, while you take care of the Earth. The brand is available in Rose Pharmacy in Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod.
Aside from their products in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category, the ladies own the media company Alike Media. Similar to OMO! White Alike was founded before the pandemic but its pivotal year was 2020. An originally digital media company, expanded into an omni-channel that now has both digital and print. They were ranked as part of the top 10 digital media companies in the country.
Best friends since they were 10 the two are now in their 30s. Two decades of friendship have evolved and formed them, but never separated. The pandemic taught them simplicity, grit, but above all – what truly is ‘essential.’
Get to know these Filipina entrepreneurs who are transforming lives with their awesome beauty products!
With the pandemic entering the world last 2020, a lot of lives were challenged. People had to live with the new normal, skipping some of the things that were usually so accessible in exchange for safety from the virus. Aside from that, livelihoods and businesses were also drastically affected because of the overall impact that the virus had on the lifestyles of people. One such industry is the beauty industry because now, people had limited access to its services and products, as well as a smaller budget.
In the case of these two local beauty brands, we see proof that despite the challenges the businesses might face, a brand can still make it through with hard work, the right intentions, and maybe, a little bit of luck.
Dear Face: Affordable and available for everyone
One such brand is Dear Face. Launched in November 2020, the brand started small with only two skincare sets, a facial wash, and a serum. During the height of the pandemic, its CEO and founder, Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos identified two major problems that people were faced with: (1) lack of source of income due to the economic effects of the global lockdown and (2) lack of self-care due to isolation and quarantine. These are the main reasons whyDear Facewas born as well as the driving force of its mission and purpose. The company is dedicated to empowering people by providing a main source of income through its distributorship program. It also aims to give people a form of self-care with its wide range of effective supplements and skin care products that are affordable and available to everyone.
Since its inception, the brand has gained impressive momentum, with over 1500 local and international distributors in countries like the United States of America, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, United Kingdom, etc. Some of you may know their TikTok famous product — the Drunk Skin,which has sold more than 250,000 bottles to date. With the rate things are going for Dear Face, there’s no denying that this young brand’s current success is only the beginning!
Skinpotions’ magical touch
Another brand with a magical touch is Skinpotions. It was founded in 2013 by sisters Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos, a registered nurse by profession, and Ma. Aileen Sison-Pacheco, a former international flight attendant. Interestingly, their interest started because Jonalyn struggled with teenage acne and her journey to finding products that worked on her skin. Apart from this, both share a common passion for helping people transform their lives and feel better about themselves through skincare and makeup.
Skinpotions started reaching its consumers through online selling platforms. It introduced cost-effective products in varieties of soap, lotion, face cream, and serum, then eventually expanded its selection, adding makeup and cosmetics to its product line. Only two years later, the brand grew to have more than 100 local distributors and also some from countries abroad such as the USA, Italy, Japan, UAE, and Australia. The company has also joined several shopping bazaars and collaboration stores to reach more consumers.
With the demand for products rapidly increasing around the country, especially in provinces, Skinpotions partnered with Francorp Philippines and opened its doors to franchising. The brand then became a duly member of the Philippine Franchise Association and was able to open several franchise stores, expanding its scope in Luzon and Visayas. Spreading its wings even further, its CEO, Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos won the 2018 Nextgen in Franchising of the International Franchise Association in Phoenix, Arizona USA.
The following year, Skinpotions collaborated with The Walt Disney Co. Philippines to launch a selection of makeup products for Disney’s live-action remake of the movie, Aladdin. Like in the movie theme song – A Whole New World, this move was truly a shining, shimmering, and splendid one for the brand. Its block screening, attended by known influencers and vloggers in the country, was one of the many achievements this venture brought the company.
Skinpotions currently has over a hundred and seventy-eight thousand followers on Facebook, a reflection of its rising popularity as well as the lives it has changed through its products.
It’s inspiring to see these young Filipina entrepreneurs thrive while transforming the lives of their products’ users as well as their business partners. If you’re looking for a new beauty product to try, why not check these brands out?
Featured photo: Ma. Aileen Sison-Pacheco and Ma. Jonalyn Sison-Ramos
The student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader – and he intends to do a great job at it. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has been home to students from all walks of life, hence why it is dubbed the “Sintang Paaralan.” It was a haven for people who wished to continue learning despite obstacles and hindrances that may come their way. This is the exact environment that nurtures people into becoming something much bigger than themselves – something that Manuel Muhi has been on the receiving end of. Now that he’s back in the halls of the fabled university, the student that the Sintang Paaralan has guided has now become its leader– and he intends to do a great job at it.
Manuel Mengorio Muhi was just a seemingly ordinary student when he first entered PUP as a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering freshman. Life has been rather hard on him, as he did not come from a wealthy family. He was taught the painful and harsh realities of life early on.
“My learning journey in PUP required me to be humble to succeed, to make ends meet, to become more resourceful, and to appreciate the privilege of being a part of the university to further my education,” he shares.
Looking back, the time he spent as a student in PUP taught Manuel a life lesson in humility. “Kasi kapag PUPian ka, sanay ka sa hirap. Magtatrabaho sa gabi, mag-aaral sa araw. Minsan hindi sumasapat ang baon, pero dapat handa ka. Kaya matututo kang makibagay at magpasalamat sa mga taong makakasalamuha mo dahil sila ang tutulong sayo,” he elaborates.
Being a student at PUP has given him a chance to improve himself to unlock his highest potential, and Manuel was more than grateful for it when he received his diploma from the university in 1988.
The education that the university has provided him has given him the urge to reach for greater heights in the academe. “As a PUPian, hindi tayo tumitigil matuto dahil mataas ang pangarap natin.” Manuel says.
True to his word, he entered graduate school and earned a Master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in Transport and Road Engineering from the prestigious Technical University of Delft-International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulics and Environment Engineering – the Netherlands in 2000. He then chose to pursue a Doctoral degree in Technology at TUP Manila in 2008.
Armed with these huge achievements, he knew that he could look for greater opportunities elsewhere, but he chose to follow his true calling and that is to serve his beloved alma mater.
“The university helped me finish my education and gave me numerous opportunities to serve both inside and outside of the country,” he narrates. He knew that PUP could make it big – and he wanted to be a part of the movement that is going to make this vision a reality.
Back to Sintang Paaralan
Manuel felt that going back to PUP and serving the university is the best way to give back to the same home that has willingly accepted him – back when he was still a mere freshman student, lost in the university’s expanse. This time, he wandered through the classrooms as a professor, and later on, he became the Dean of the College of Engineering from 2006 to 2013.
“Magagaling ang ating mga estudyante. These are deserving youth and they need the university’s assistance,” he shares. As someone who benefited from the university before, he wishes to do the same for others by being someone that can give them the opportunities that he once had.
He also served as the Executive Vice President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Research, Extension, Planning, and Development from 2012 to 2016. After being appointed as the University President, Manuel knew that this position should not be taken lightly.
“Isa din sa mga inspirasyon ko ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Nakita ko kung gaano nila ka-gustong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral,” Manuel expounds. “[PUP] has the potential to meet a wide range of needs in the surrounding communities, and I recognized that potential. It gave me hope that I could be a part of an institution that could have a significant impact on the lives of many people.”
The life of a leader
Being the University President is a huge responsibility that comes with all sorts of challenges. For Manuel, the position required him to be on his toes at all times.
“We cannot let our position get into our heads. What matters is the kind of leadership you demonstrate,” he shares. Manuel wants to be the kind of leader who knows and sees everyone– including their struggles, hardships, and eventually their successes. “Kaya mula sa pinakaibaba, mga estudyante, janitors, security guards, empleyado, hanggang sa mga middle managers, directors and executive officials, pinupuntahan po natin sila, inaabot, kinakausap, pinakikinggan.”
With this kind of leadership, he has also drafted plans for the university’s improvement, geared towards technological advancement and infrastructure improvement. As an engineer himself, his plan was more focused on improving the technology and facilities. “Over time, we are seeing improvements, from our comfort rooms to our sports facilities, student centers, and newly constructed research and laboratory facilities, we are working tirelessly to achieve our goals,” he states.
He also plans to make PUP a smart campus, focusing on improvements in technology, and student services, mitigating compliance mistakes, automating workflows, reducing wait times, and conserving energy and resources, among other things. Just like any other institution, PUP must keep up with the times and the increasing demands for quality education.
However, the pandemic posed a significant challenge to his administration and hampered most of his plans for the university. As the University President, it was his job to ensure that everything is covered. “We were caught off guard and unprepared because we needed to come up with a solution right away to make things work,” he narrates. With his brand of leadership, he wanted to ensure that with whatever policy he implemented, no one will be left behind.
The pandemic’s awful hit
During these unpredictable times, the main concern of the university lies in three aspects: the studentry, the quality of the education they’ll receive, and the technological advancements needed to further their learning. With these in mind, the Flexible Technology Learning (FlexTel) is an alternative learning framework, which improved gradually through time.
FlexTel accommodates the needs of various learners, including their learning circumstances and their ability to access learning tools and gadgets. In this mode, the professors can also follow a curated teaching load that considers their flexibility as well. “Its implementation may have been hampered by birth pains, but it has opened the doors to learning for all PUPians across the country,” he adds.
With the mixed reactions from the studentry, Manuel recognizes that the FlexTel also needs improvement, and just like any other policy, it is open for criticisms and amendments. “PUP continues to work with various sectors to improve FlexTel implementation in the coming years so that it is more inclusive, accessible, and fully coherent,” he says, as he ensures that their concerns will be duly noted.
Moreover, he also launched the PUP Education on Wheels, a project that caters to the educational needs of the out-of-school youth in various places. This project aims to give more learning opportunities for everyone and to ensure that more people get access to education, regardless of their background. “Ito naman po ang matagal nang vision natin sa Sintang Paaralan, to make education accessible and of quality. The EOW is ongoing at napapakinabangan na ng maraming kabataan sa Smokey Mountain,” he proudly shares.
The Education on Wheels also seeks to expand nationwide, seeking out underprivileged youths – truly living up to PUP’s reputation of giving people, regardless of their stature, a chance at a quality education.
“The goal is straightforward: to bring education to those who cannot afford it, right at their doorstep. This would not have been possible without the generous contributions of our donors, all of whom shared the same vision of educating the next generation,” Manuel explains.
Currently, Education on Wheels has 65 students under the Bachelor of Science in Office Administration. Their courses are TESDA inclined, which guarantees them a job after two years of education.
PUP has come a long way as it is now regarded as the top choice for employers, according to JobStreet. It is now known as the number one producer of professionals in different fields.
The university continues to raise its proud colors as it always claims its spot as one of the country’s top-performing schools. Board top-notchers also hail from various courses such as engineering, accounting, law, nutrition and dieticians, psychometrician, and education, among others.
On criticisms and challenges
Since he sat in the highest position in the university, he has been faced with criticisms and various side comments from various sectors. Being in such a vulnerable post means that Manuel needs to have the right mindset to deal with them professionally.
“I was also once a student of PUP and alam ko po ang mga kailangang baguhin sa Sintang Paaralan, and this is their assurance that someone understands them at hindi natin hahayaan na mahihirapan ang ating mga estudyante,” he shares. He knows that no leadership is perfect, but for it to work, he has to listen to his constituents.
Manuel is aware that PUPians have valid concerns and that they only want what’s best for the entire student population-–a sentiment that Manuel shared back when he was still a student. This kind of connection, as he says, brings him closer to the calls of the studentry and makes him more adept at their needs and concerns.
“We always hear our students, sila ang priority. We always make sure that their frustrations are validated and heard. We understand them and make sure we address their concerns right away,” Manuel adds.
PUP is one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, but Manuel knows it has so much potential to be more, unlock more doors, and open up new opportunities for students and employees alike. The university has always been in the service of the Filipino people, which also educates them about the realities of life and how the world essentially works. While this resiliency is commonly romanticized, Manuel sees it as undeniably patriotic.
“Lagi’t lagi naming binabanggit, ‘Mula sa ‘yo para sa bayan.’ Ito po ang identity ng isang PUPian. Buong husay na maglilingkod at magsisilbi para sa bayan. Nandyan ang Sintang Paaralan na kaisa sa pagtataguyod ng maunlad na bansa,” he expounds. “PUPians know that in everything they do, it must be for the country’s sake and for the masses.”
For Manuel, this is what makes PUP different from the other universities. “PUP taught me to accept where I am and honor where I am. Accepting where you are and realizing how far you still have to go and learn is another aspect of humility,” he explains.
The university has taught him life lessons that he carries up to this day, making him more grounded and humbled tirelessly. As the University President, Manuel has several plans that he wishes to implement to ensure that everybody is given the same chance as he was, decades ago.
The current PUP administration is now focusing on reaching the elusive National Polytechnic University status, which will eventually raise the university’s status and open more doors for the students.
“In the coming years, we would like to continue utilizing these by building better infrastructure, as well as higher educational standards. Several plans have been developed for PUP, and these plans will serve to demonstrate that the university is truly concerned with the interests of its stakeholders, particularly our students,” Manuel elaborates.
PUP has been a safe place for Manuel as a student, and as he sits as the University President, he also seeks to make students and employees feel at home within its walls. The university has been through various ups and downs during his administration, but one thing is for sure – he ensures that PUP will stay true to its nature of being a beacon of hope, critical thinking, and quality education for everyone. There is so much to look forward to, and Manuel is determined to do a great job at helping these plans become a reality.
(Ruby’s Precious Moments 3rd anniversary Special Feature)
“If you’re happy and passionate about the things that you do, your aura will always show it,” shares Atty. Margarita “Migs” Bendigo Nograles.
Among our young lawyers today, 30-year-old Atty. Margarita “Migs” Bendigo Nograles has the three essential qualities that spell a lifetime success: beauty, brains, and the heart for public service.
Her positive aura is an outcome of waking up to the life that she wants to liven up with gusto. “If you’re happy and passionate about the things that you do, your aura will always show it,” she intimates.
Migs takes care of her lovely face by cleaning it always. She makes it a point to remove her makeup after every working day. “I would say always remember to wash your face every night, moisturize, and put sunblock!” Her nighttime beauty must-haves are Clinique facial wash and toner, together with a moisturizer. “Some days, if I find the time, I get to go and have facials at Oroderm Davao.”
If there’s a particular motto on beauty that she believes in, it would be “Never compare beauty with anyone else. It all starts from within. Be comfortable with your own skin and never ever dress to impress others but only yourself,” shares Migs, the well-schooled partner-lawyer at Nograles Ilagan Sagarino Selgas Cayco Aban & Dabi Law (NISSCAD Law) based in Davao, offers legal services on civil law, criminal law, corporate law, family law, and taxation law.
Her beauty icons are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Amal Clooney. The former is the youngest woman ever to serve in the US Congress, and the latter is a well-known barrister specializing in international law and human rights. “They are always just so perfectly dressed and perfectly demure in every way,” she quips.
At the home front, she admires her lovely mom Rhodora “Bebet” Bendigo-Nograles, sister Dr. Kristine Nograles-Hugo, and her sister-in-law, Marga who owns Kaayo Modern Mindanao.
Migs complements her beauty regimen with a healthy lifestyle. “I try not to eat a lot of salty food and make sure I lessen rice. But when I do eat rice, I make sure I use Oh Crop! Adlai rice. It’s the best!” she says.
Cooking and baking are her stress relievers. “Actually, it is my mom whom I idolize when it comes to that. What is just lacking is for her to start her own pastry store! She bakes every day just to share to friends and family complete with the entire packaging!” she exclaims.
When it comes to food, she loves Japanese food, seafood, but her comfort food will always be that popular Filipino chicken joy brand! From her hometown Davao, her favorite fruit is pomelo. “Have you tried it? If you haven’t, you must!” she urges. “Chocolate and strawberry, too, are pretty good here.”
Every day, she tries to run at least 30 minutes before she starts her day. “It keeps my mind and adrenaline running and gets me ready and pumped up for the day,” she discloses. “I work out (at least try to do so) every day for at least 30 minutes. If not, I find time to play badminton with friends.”
Migs has been active doing sports activities since she was young. “For example, I was part of the track and field team in High School and so I have always been very sporty. Nowadays, I do indoor cycling, running, and Zumba!” utters Migs, who acknowledges the fact that endorphins (the happiness hormones) make one happy. But most importantly, she says, “You have to listen to your body; when the body tells you to rest, you have to rest. Otherwise, everything else falls down.”
During this pandemic, Migs is coping well with her workout routine by setting up a small home gym – complete with treadmill, rower, indoor bike. “I just do a lot of cardio. If possible, I go with my friends to do badminton when I’m not too busy.”
After a hectic day, she unwinds by reading self-help books or books about stoicism. “It helps you keep intact with yourself. Otherwise, I call friends and catch up with the family,” she shares.
What could be her biggest realization during this pandemic? “Life’s too short to have big regrets. You never know when you’re going to lose someone or when you’re going to go; so you have to make the most out of every day and live your life to the fullest. There’s no time for negativity or fear. Conquer your fears and believe in yourself to follow your dreams and passion.”