Just bead it!
() - December 14, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - “Give man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Lao Tzu is credited with these words of wisdom, words that serve as one of the foundations of Via Venetto, an enduring institution in the Philippine fashion industry.

Founded some 30 years ago by then University of the Philippines faculty member Yolanda Pajaro, Via Venetto was at first a business born out of necessity, and has since become an icon forged from the integrity of its products.

It is no secret that each and every exquisite pair of Via Venetto shoes is made right here in the Philippines by the artisan shoemakers of Marikina City. The leather is imported from all-over Europe, but the shoes are handcrafted using traditional methods and techniques. Fatto a mano as the Italians like to call it. These shoes have never seen a pneumatic arm or even a conveyor belt.

What is a somewhat less-known fact, however, is that for the past two years, Via Venetto’s equally striking bags and clutches are also locally made, this time by the inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women.

“People make mistakes,” says Pajaro. “Some mistakes come with more consequences than others, but are mistakes just the same. These women are trying to make up for their misdeeds.”

Bag it in: Via Venetto bags are the perfect gifts for bag hags.

Most of the inmates at the Institute come from a background of poverty and abuse, and have been dependent on drugs in some capacity. CIW encourages various forms of therapy while in the institute, but lack of funding makes providing them with such therapy difficult.

“The first and most crucial step towards rehabilitation for these women is to help them feel like they are part of society, and that means giving them responsibilities and a sense of accomplishment. A day’s worth of hard work alone can do wonders for a person’s sense of value, dignity, and pride. Add to that the pay they receive for their services and you will have started them on the path towards a better life.”

Pajaro credits the consciousness she learned from her parents enhanced by education at the University of the Philippines as a student there, and later on as a member of the faculty.

“The culture in UP has always been one of social responsibility and integrity,” she adds.

Through Via Venetto’s help, some of these women have proven themselves to be capable members of society and have even been able to provide for their families from inside the institute. All of a sudden the bag you fell in love with through the store window carries more meaning than just a functional accessory and a holiday treat for yourself. It means tuition fees, hospital care, clothing, maybe even Noche Buena. It means someone from behind walls is made a little better.

Via Venetto shoes and bags are available at Greenbelt 1, Glorietta 5, Mega Mall, Alabang Town Center and TriNoma.

ALABANG TOWN CENTER CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE LAO TZU MARIKINA CITY MEGA MALL NOCHE BUENA PAJARO THROUGH VIA VENETTO UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES VENETTO VIA VENETTO
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