Rags2Riches is Hiring!

April 25, 2011

Rags2Riches (R2R) is a for-profit social enterprise that designs and manufactures eco-ethical home and fashion accessories by employing women living in the poor communities around Metro Manila. R2R empowers the women in these communities by giving them access to the formal economy, increasing their incomes and providing them with additional skills-based, financial and health training. At the same time, R2R’s products are all made with upcycled scraps from garment manufacturers or textile companies, as well as other organic and indigenous materials available in the Philippines.

As a young company and one of the pioneers in the Philippines’ social enterprise space, we promise to provide a challenging yet fun and rewarding work environment with a path for career development and personal growth.

Compensation will be commensurate with experience. 2011 is the year for Rags2Riches’ growth.

We are expanding to more communities and enriching the social enterprise that aims to support them. We are filling up the following positions:

Admin Assistant – Assist all departments in administrative needs and requirements


— College Graduate (2 year or 4 year course on Office Administration is preferred) — At least 2 years of relevant experience with office administration

— Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power point

— Willing to work flexible hours

— Willing and able to work with minimal supervision

— Well-organized and detail-oriented

Community Enterprise Activation Officer– Build Community-Based Enterprises in partnership with Cooperatives, Associations, and Communities, through creating a community-enterprise franchise system, training communities on enterprise development, creating programs that will increase the quality of life of the members, and liaising with external partners who could support these programs and activities.


— College Graduate (BS Management or Management/Business/Entrepreneurship course preferred)

— At least 2 years of experience in business development or related field — Proficient in Microsoft Office — Interested in merging business discipline with social cause

— Willing to travel to the communities on a regular basis

— Willing to work flexible hours

— Willing and able to work with minimal supervision

— Excellent interpersonal and communication skills

If you or your friends (or someone you know) are interested in any of the two positions, kindly email your resume to (Rags2Riches Operations Manager) and copy by April 30, 2011. Thank you very much!


Now What?

August 22, 2010

I’ll be here in a few hours. =)

A few months ago, I received an email from the organizers of “What Makes a Young Champion? 2010”, inviting me to talk and participate in their forum. The event will be held in Singapore this coming weekend (August 7-8).

One of main values of Rags2Riches is “spreading positive influence”. We try to share the story of Rags2Riches whenever we can so I happily agreed to be part of this forum (it would also be held during a weekend, so my work will not be compromised). However, when I visited the website, hoping to look for information I could integrate to my presentation, I realized that this forum, and the amazing people that will be in it, will share their stories to us and inspire us as well.

I was awed when I read through the profiles of the young champions who will be there. I would like to share them with you. (Excerpts taken from the What Makes A Young Champion website, some comments in italics)

Anthony Chen is a 26 year old multi-awarded filmmaker from Singapore.

Bambang Reguna (aka Bams) is a 27 year old Rock Star who campaigns against drugs.

Caroline Bird is a 25 year old writer from the UK who has already published several works of poetry and plays.

Cindy Chng is a 22 year old environmentalist from Singapore who founded her own company, Eco-Travel.

Divya Dhar is already a doctor at 24 years old. She is awarded as the 2010 Young New Zealander of the Year. She has also set up a foundation that works with young people to work towards ending poverty.

Johnny Strange is the youngest person to reach the Seven Summits on the seven continents. He did this all before he was even 18.

Khalida Brohi is a 22 year old social activist from Pakistan who advocates against honor killing and advocates for gender equality.(Khalida is also a dear friend I connected with during our YouthActionNet Fellowship last November 2008. I’m very excited to see her again. She is such a determined and amazing young woman who is currently a fellow of “Unreasonable Institute”)

Kwok Min Yi is an 18 year old ballerina from Singapore who is the first Singaporean to qualify for the prestigious Genee International Ballet Competition last 2009.

Leanna Archer is a 14 (!) year old entrepreneur who founded her own company that produces all-natural hair products. She established this when she was 9 (what was I doing when I was 9?). Her company is very successful and has been internationally recognized.

Lee Huei Min is a 27 year old violinist from Singapore. She has been given several awards and distinctions and she also harnesses her talents to raise funds for charitable causes.

Louis Barnett is an 18 year old Chocolatier. He dropped out of school because of learning difficulties but was able to find his space in being a chocolatier, and as one of the youngest and most successful entrepreneurs in his field.

Yip Pin Xiu is a 17 year old swimmer who won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics.

These young people are indeed AMAZING! They prove that age and the lack of experience are not hindrances to success or to making a difference.

I’m very excited to meet all of them. =)

I can’t wait to have something like this conference in the Philippines. I’m sure we have our share of amazing young people who could serve as inspirations to the world! =)

1.) We engage in Sustainable social enterprises rather than give dole outs

It is easy to give a few centavos and loose change. It is easy to spoon-feed everything and at the end of the day think that “I did something” or “I did a random act of kindness”. While a few centavos and some loose change can get someone through an hour or perhaps a day, it would be so much more life-changing if we engage in sustainable ways of enriching people and enriching the world.

2.) We discourage breeding grounds for entitlement

It is quite sad when I encounter communities selling products that I would only buy out of pity. Not only is the project not sustainable, it is also quite demoralizing in the long term. Giving an undeserved “pat on the back” (all the time) is a disservice to the people we want to uplift and empower. It breeds entitlement rather than empowerment.

3.) We change the mind set that it is not moral to make a career and a living out of social entrepreneurship

It is accepted to build a career and earn a living out of making the rich even richer. It would be great if building a career and earning a living out of making the poor empowered and richer, would also be as accepted (if not even more accepted).

Going into social work is still usually identified as with being “one with the poor”, quite literally. If only it is as viable as a normal corporate career, more talented and competent people will engage in it. It does not have to be lucrative. It just has to be quite competitive and it has to make sense.

4.) We minimize Copying and Pasting

While it is really cool to copy and paste something that works. It would be even more amazing if we can come up with ORIGINAL, revolutionary things that would make the world a better place. =) Original and innovative ideas could move us forward faster.

This was an article I wrote last August 17, 2007, right after we visited Kuya Joey Velasco in his home. I am re-posting this as a tribute to the Man and the Artist who touched lives through his life.

I have always been an artist at heart. I never pursued this however because I was scared that if I placed standards on something that keeps my soul alive, art will cease to be free. I am contented and at peace with my relationship with art. It was, and continues to be, my sanctuary. It is where my heart beats fast and I feel myself step out of myself. Every piece of art that was made with passion and prayer (in no particular form or order) is an encounter with God.

I thought I have already forgotten about art and the sanctuary it gives me.

When I talked to Kuya Joey Velasco, I re-discovered what I already knew. I realized that I could never forget who I really am and how I see my God through the hunger and yearning He placed in me. Kuya Joey told me that painting was not his skill. It was something he did not consider before. But if one looks at his paintings, one could see a true artist, a witness of life, a visionary that makes the rest of the world see.

His paintings communicate with each soul and makes one scandalized and at peace at the same time. Scandalized because of the touch of Divinity in what we consider the most inhuman in humanity. Then the paintings make us realize why Jesus came to the world in the first place. There was nothing so patronizing or far-out in his paintings. They just communicated the simple yet difficult truths that the Bible has been communicating to us for centuries. These art pieces are indeed scandalizing because they show us who we are called to be. At the same time however, the paintings would keep one at peace. There would always be a sense of peace when one sees what life is really all about.

It is about always going back to our values, our Faith.

It is about recognizing that we are called to LOVE and to share our lives

Thank you for sharing your life with us Kuya Joey.

One of my missions in life is to be a good example that living an Eco-Ethical lifestyle goes well with beauty and comfort. This is why once in a while, I will be posting personal materials about my life and my efforts and small decisions towards living an Eco-Ethical Lifestyle.

I would like to start with our wedding plans.

Weddings are very tricky I think. There are lots of things to balance: the bride’s “I-want-this-to-be-a-perfect-wedding-just-like-how-I-dreamed-about-when-I-was-a-little-girl”, the budget, the guest list, the comfort of the guests, the couple’s preferences, the suppliers available and availability, the in-laws’ requests, etc… So, trying to have an Eco-Ethical Wedding is in fact, more a constraint now than a real option.

Having an Eco-Ethical wedding for me was a little bit automatic. Because of the work we do in Rags2Riches, I can’t help but include the environment and communities as factors in our decisions about the wedding.

So here are the decisions we made in order to be as Eco-Ethical and as stylish as possible. I must admit that it is very challenging because not a lot of suppliers have the Eco-Ethical products we prefer. But for now, considering all the limitations, I believe that we are on the right track.

1.) Wedding Gown created using natural materials, designed by Rajo Laurel–Rajo, being a long-time partner of ours in Rags2Riches, Inc. (and not to mention, one of the country’s premiere fashion designers) was an obvious choice for the wedding gown. We absolutely love his style and philosophy! I also trusted that he would understand the Eco-Ethical considerations of our wedding. =)

2.) Organic Welcome Drinks–our caterer is K. Cunanan who is known for her creativity when it comes to wedding concepts and themes. Of course, the food tastes amazing too! But what we liked best about her is the flexibility of her style. She can basically translate your “dream theme” into all the tiny but important details of a wedding reception! When I told her that I wanted to have an Eco-Ethical wedding, she proposed that we could provide organic “green” welcome drinks as well.

3.) Eco-Ethical Reception set up using locally sourced plants and flowers (the pegs below are from K. Cunanan’s blog. This is the peg I re-sent to them with my comments beside the photo)

4.) Eco-Ethical Wedding Souvenirs: Potted Plants and Rags2Riches purses (not yet the actual purses)

Photo by: Amina Aranaz-Alunan

5.) Eco-Ethical Invitation Cards (the actual design by: Marielle Nadal of Ideals Creatives)

6.) Reusable Bride’s Maids/Maids of Honor/Secondary Sponsors Gowns: The beautiful Infinity Dress that the girls can wear over and over again. (photos from Ant Hill:

I’m so excited to post the actual wedding photos and how all of the aforementioned looked together! =) So far, everything looks really good!