“I was working at the Senate in 2013 and the traffic in Manila went from bad to worse. I was spending two to three hours driving to work everyday, and that’s on a good day. I was stressed out and almost psychosomatic. But in December that year, I bought a pack of loose leaf tea. Unlike brewing tea bags, you have to measure one teaspoon for each cup, you have to be mindful of the water temperature, as well as the steeping duration. As I was making it, I discovered what I now recognize as a Zen moment. I found a quiet space inside me and all the stress disappeared. Long story short, I started looking forward to that ritual every day. That moment actually led me to become a tea business owner and a student of Zen practice.”
“My job will end when there are no more poor farmers left in the Philippines. That’s the way I measure success. That’s my driving force.”
“Everyone was telling me to drop it. But the thing is… this brand came from me. This was mine. I didn’t want to just give it up.”
“Nawa means many things in T’Boli… one’s character or emotions. It could also mean ‘breath’, and in Tagalog it can mean ‘Amen’ or ‘let it be’. We created Nawa to showcase the amazing talent that comes from handmade Filipino jewelry. Around the Philippines, there’s so much talent to be tapped.”
“We see all this loss of opportunity, because people tell me ‘I don’t know how to do 3D design. I’m not an architect, I’m not an engineer. Where do we go from here?’ And if the average person can’t do it, how can we say we’re empowering the average Filipino?”
“This is something bigger than us. More than the profit, is the social impact: I want our company, our films, to address issues and actually provoke audiences into doing something about them.”
“We had to build it from the ground up. We used things from our own houses for the first six months to pay off the construction. Even our rice cooker was a regular one, not the big one that other stalls used… It was a big jump. We didn’t realize how big it was. When we were signing the contract, we were just laughing, like… oh, this is real!”
“I think the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is [expletive],” Nicole said, revealing the competitive spirit that belies the adorable nature of her jackets. “If you know what you want to do, your actions will become more streamlined… Whatever happens, you get up, dress up, and show up.”
“We had to make a lot of deals first,” explains Zelenna. “If we fight as couples, it shouldn’t affect the business. And if we don’t agree on something about the business, our relationship shouldn’t be affected.”
We are a team of four individuals who are passionate about supporting our local businesses own who play an indispensable role in our cities. We are on a mission to interview these business owners and share their stories of success, determination, hardship and inspiration to the world.
Our very first interviews are being conducted this week in Manila: watch this space as we start to pen down their stories.