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Bonifacio Global City Passion Fest: Giving hope and nurturing passions

Hark the herald: Angels handmade by CARD MRI descend on Bonifacio Global City for its Hope Fair.

Tis the season for giving. At Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Christmas is the season — and a great reason — to give hope, nurture dreams, and fulfill passions. An emerging premier business district, BGC nurtures new ideas and promotes entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. Probably born with a silver ladle in his hand, Marc Aubrey followed his heart (or is it stomach?) and put up Je Suis Gourmand (but just because you can’t pronounce it doesn’t mean you can’t afford it) at Bonifacio Global City. Renowned chef Sau del Rosario shares his burning passion for cooking at his deli and gourmet food market called Chelsea Market and Café at Serendra. Chef Roland Laudico has his Bistro Filipino. Ensaymada queen Mary Grace Dimacali enjoys sweet success with her Cafe Mary Grace. Sonja Ocampo’s cup runneth over, what with her cupcakes at Cupcakes by Sonja selling like hotcakes. And the mouthwatering list goes on and on.

This Christmas, this same passion is nurtured, but this time, BGC is making way for the next entrepreneurs and giving them a venue to showcase their passion, talent, and creativity. Yes, BGC fills Christmas with fulfilled dreams and well-deserved opportunities, nurturing the ideas of bright young minds of the new business community. Truly, Christmas shines brighter at BGC with the spirit of hope. 

Not your usual entrepreneurs, they each have an inspiring true-to-life rags-to-riches fairy-tale to tell. Armed with their formidable social business perspective and a daring spirit, they do business with a heart.

New Entrepreneurs, New Ideas

Keep tabs on these enterprising new stars who promise to shine bright in the business firmament with their brilliant business concepts. Like students from Taguig City University who have come up with shoe-interesting house shoes (slippers), flip-flops or jandals using scrap fabrics to jazz ’em up. Some students from Ateneo de Manila University went into a real bubbly business that they called Sabon ni Juan. It specializes in soap that’s 100-percent fresh, 100-percent Filipino, and 100-percent fun. Who’d think that The Jungle Kids-University of the Philippines, Diliman would create Happy Hoodies that are just so nifty, keeping your little ones warm when the air turns nippy? They’re also packed in environment-friendly animal print cardboard boxes with fact tags on a specific animal and how it impacts the environment. Creative minds from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines went loco over choco and came up with MM’s Tsoko-Keyk, chocolates and cakes that showcase the wonderful things and places in the Philippines. It’s a sweet way to promote Philippine tourism and love of country, don’t you think? Gift-wrapping is customized, too.

Helping these promising entrepreneurs realize their dreams is the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. BGC is a city that supports new ideas and new ways of thinking and doing things.

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Meet the other new-generation entrepreneurs, such as Rags2Riches, Got Heart Foundation Inc., and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Inc. (more on them later). They exchange new business concepts at the Ideas Forum at the Hope Fair on Dec. 11, 5 p.m., Bonifacio High Street.

A vibrant marketplace of goods and ideas like no other, the Hope Fair provides a venue for indigenous, environment-friendly, and socio-civic products. Everyone’s invited to the Hope Fair on December 12 and 13, 19 and 20 at Bonifacio High Street (B6, near Fully Booked). No entrance fee needed. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, some cash, and perhaps a big eco bag to stuff your purchases in.

From Rags To Riches

And now, meet the new entrepreneurs. Rags2Riches is a social business enterprise creating eco-ethical and stylish products that use upcycled scraps or organic materials and empower community-based enterprises. Going literally from rags to riches, from waste to wealth to world-class, it will showcase and sell a wealth of eco-ethical products at the Hope Fair, such as designer bags and things for the home, created by the empowered women of Payatas and designed by the country’s premier designers Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan.

Rags2Riches is the handiwork of Jesuit priest Fr. Xavier Alpasa, SJ with young professionals Reese Fernandez, Mark Ruiz, Bam Aquino, Ange Benavides, Maan Lim, Timothy Agulto, Timi Gomez, and Memey Mendoza.

“From the raw materials to the process to the marketing, we make sure that our products enrich the lives of people and of the planet,” says Reese Fernandez. “Thus, we do not use chemical solutions, and our products are largely handmade. For us, being sustainable is equal to celebrating the good and beautiful things in life while enriching the world at the same time. Yes, we are on this forever!”

With inspiring stories to tell, Rags2Riches came about because of a social problem. The women of Payatas, who worked hard to create rugs, were being paid less than P1 per rug because the middlemen got the lion’s share of the profits.

Today, these creative women are recognized with every product that Rags2Riches sells. Products include high-quality rugs from Rags2Riches’ home line, gift items that cost from P100 to P540, and limited-edition bags at P700 to P2,550. Visit

Have a Heart

Have a heart, says Got Heart Foundation Inc. that aims to look into the “heart” in each one — the heart to help others and the heart for BGC’s community stakeholders to lift themselves out of poverty.

To do this, Got Heart Foundation lives by the theme of empowerment through entrepreneurship.

Helping develop entrepreneurs among grassroots communities, Got Heart Foundation will sell the following products at the Hope Fair: Project Tinman stuffed toys; crocheted bags, pouches, and sarongs; terra-cotta bracelets; hand-casted brass bracelets and pendants; Got Heart 2010 planner featuring indigenous communities; ecobags; greeting cards featuring paintings of 12 indigenous communities; T-shirts; Earth Kitchen cookies.

Got Heart Foundation Inc. is located at 47 Chico St., Project 2, Quezon City with telephone number 994-0818; telefax 921-8641. Visit

It’s in the Card

The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Inc. is an institution that believes that financial support is not enough to wipe out poverty in the Philippines . Its in-house research shows that the poor need an outlet for their produce, a solid structure they can call their home, proper education for their children, and assistance so that they could improve their lives. To address these needs, CARD Inc. established the CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (MRI), composed of several units that provide essential services to the poor.

 Now serving the poor are six institutions — CARD NGO, CARD Bank, CARD Mutual Benefit Association (MBA), CARD MRI Development Institute (CMDI), CARD Business Development Services (BDS), and CARD MRI Insurance Agency (CAMIA). Soon, CARD MRI will also establish its housing company for microfinance clients.

An innovative leader in the microfinance industry, CARD Inc. made a paradigm shift when it became the first NGO to transform into a bank in 1997. It is also the first microfinance institution (MFI) to provide microinsurance services to clients in 1999 and the first to establish an institute which provided a master’s degree in Microfinance for those who aimed for a higher form of quality education in 2005. To date, CARD Inc. proves its leadership once again as it announces that it has gone where very few MFIs dare to  tread — the ARMM region, in addition to its liaison office in Cambodia.

At the Hope Fair, CARD MRI will sell products fashioned out of capiz, papier-mache, tin wires, and hampers.

For more details on CARD, visit

It’s Human Nature to Give

For Gawad Kalinga (GK) volunteers Anna Meloto-Wilk, Dylan Wilk, and Camille Meloto, it’s human nature to share — and care for other people. Exposed early on to the harsh realities of poverty in the Philippines, the three kindred spirits now burned with the desire to do more for the country. From these generous roots came a brand called Gandang Kalikasan that carries a line of organic and natural personal care products that are 100-percent Philippine-made and 100-percent free from harmful chemicals. 

Human Nature’s launch in November 2008 was graced by a group of friends, family, and Gawad Kalinga partners. Today, Human Nature employs GK residents as part of its full-time staff and has begun work on an organic farm in a GK community in Bulacan to showcase the various Philippine ingredients and their many diverse applications. These ingredients are used in many Human Nature products. Guided by the principles of being pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-environment, the company continues to strive to help the country prosper through successful and sustainable social enterprises and world-class organic and natural products for all Filipinos.

Human Nature aims to help the country by sourcing locally at fair trade prices, producing a world-class brand and exporting it globally. And producing world-class Philippine products is our way of loving our country and lifting many Filipinos out of poverty.

You’ll love the fact that Human Nature loves the environment and loves our families as it provides only the safest and purest world-class products for them. These affordable organic and natural products feel as good on your skin as they do in your heart.   

This holiday season, Human Nature has come up with a variety of gift ideas ranging from P149 to P999, including special grooming gift packs for men. Who says beauty is wasted on women? Each Human Nature Christmas Bundle comes with a free giftable pouch. Visit

Bejeweled Beauties

A gem of a business enterprise in partnership with the mothers of the Gawad Kalinga-Molave Village, Bejeweled aims to provide not only financial help for the beneficiaries, but also a social impact through empowerment, productivity, and improvement of quality of lives. Its vision/mission states: “To empower the mothers of Gawad Kalinga Molave Village by creating the community’s first ever sustainable livelihood program. It aims to offer stylish and good-quality pairs of flip-flops that embody an innovative entrepreneurial spirit as well as social conscience.”

Visit and

Time for the Children’s Hour

Children’s Hour is a fund-raising and grant-giving organization that taps individuals, employees, and corporations to donate at least one hour of their earnings once a year to fund projects committed to promoting the welfare of Filipino children.

Since its inception in 1999, it has funded 425 projects nationwide with 266 partner organizations. Its generous donors have benefited over 413,573 Filipino children who now have a hope-filled future to look forward to.

The Children’s Hour will sell handmade products at the Hope Fair. Visit

As part of the exciting Passion Fest, “Voices” will fill the air with songs that warm the heart with the UP Madrigal Singers performing on December 13 and the all-male showband Tux on December 20. Both shows will be held at 8 p.m. at Bonifacio High Street.

Truly a giving and sharing community, BGC is selling mini-replicas of the unique Christmas décor that you see around the city. These lovely handmade mini-replicas carved out of recycled materials by Tree’s Company will go on sale at Bonifacio High Street on Dec. 11, 12, 13, 19, and 20. Proceeds from the sale will go to the beneficiaries of Bonifacio Global City and Tree’s Company. This is BGC’s way of sharing hope with families affected by the recent typhoons who included the workers of Tree’s Company.

Indeed, BGC is the home of passionate minds — and passionate shoppers who will certainly find something to engage their fancy at the Hope Fair.

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