The potential of pili as an ingredient in beauty products has attracted even foreign brands. But it is this local brand that has made sure local farmers were treated fairly.
Elemi, the resin found in the pili tree, has been called the “poor man’s frankincense,” a tag that vexes Pili Ani Founder Rosalina Tan. Yet elemi’s potential as an ingredient for beauty products has attracted even foreign cosmetic brands, which, 15 years ago, was not exactly advantageous to the local farmers.
“A foreign brand would lowball the farmers, encouraging them to tap at the trees indiscriminately. So, ang ginawa ko, binili ko sa mas mataas na presyo, kaya tumaas din ang presyo sa market. Fair trade is very important with what we do,” Rosalina recounts. She has also worked with government and private institutions to teach the farmers the proper way of tapping trees and encouraged them to plant more trees for sustainability.
While pili used to be known just for its nuts, Pili Ani has discovered that its Elemi and the pili oil are ideal in making essential oils, lotions, soaps, lipsticks, and even antiaging creams, which form its bevy of offerings here and abroad. Maintaining its own farm and working with other farming cooperatives around the Bicol region has allowed Pili Ani to provide new livelihoods to the people in these communities.
“Dati, ang ginagawa lang nila, marzipan. But when they learned that we could also extract the oil from the pili, we created a new livelihood for that na hindi existent before. Ang daming matutulungan na farmers dahil dito,” Mary Jane Tan-Ong, Pili Ani CEO, said.
One of those who has found a new livelihood from Pili Ani is Cheska Pascua, the brand’s pioneering chemist, who now heads its Research and Development department.
“Pili Ani has helped me reach my dreams of making my own cosmetics. They have trained me and even funded my studies in mixing. There’s a sense of pride in what I do,” Cheska says.
Aside from providing livelihood to farmers and its production and sales employees, Pili Ani also actively engages with the communities where it is present. As it plans to continue to taking the brand to the next level, Pili Ani also hopes to help more individuals and communities.
Pili Ani and other products are available at Kultura located in SM Malls. You may also order Pili Ani and other uniquely Filipino items at www.kulturafilipino.com. When you support Pili Ani products, you also support the pili farmers of Bicol.
[Additional photo from Pili Ani]