Going (pili) nuts about beauty

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Going (pili) nuts about beauty
Pili Ani’s Rosalina Tan (seated) and Mary Jane Tan-Ong.

The tough shell of the pili nut is cocooned by what many have claimed is the fountain of youth. And this “fountain” is the pulp that coats the nut.

When blanched, “depulped” and manually pressed for extraction, this turns into oil. And voila! After purification and filtration, the pili oil, without preservatives, is ready to turn your dreams into Instagram-worthy reality.

“This is actually the next big thing since Argan oil,” says Jane Ong of Pili Ani, the only skin care line made with powerful pili oils. Pili stands for the fruit and for “Pilipino,” as the Philippines is the world’s only grower of pili trees, and Ani means harvest.

“Because what we have in the pili tree is a treasure that we don’t really know we have — we have two oils from one tree. From the pili tree, you can get elemi oil, which is the one Chanel buys from the Philippines. Chanel started buying elemi oil from the country around 30 years ago. If you’re familiar with the Ultra Lift Corrector?”

 Jane, who was introduced to the wonders of the pili tree by her mother Rosalina Tan, an advocate for organic farming, points out that elemi oil, which is from the sap of the pili tree, has firming and antibacterial properties.

Rosalina Tan “discovered” pili oil for cosmeceutical purposes when one of the farmers she was mentoring approached her with a gallon of it.

(Clockwise) The pili tree, Pili oil Photo from piliani.com; which reportedly only grows in the Philippines; and pili fruit. Photo from piliani.com.

“My mom, together with the Department of Agriculture, was conducting talks in Camarines Sur and then she met this farmer that went up to her and said, ‘Ma’am, bilihin mo na ‘to’ and it was a bottle of pili oil that was hand squeezed. My mom bought it so the farmer could go home. They told her it was for massage, for hilot, ‘para hindi ka malamigan’.”

As the months went by, Rosalina kept asking her daughter, who was in the warehousing business (for Ginebra San Miguel) in the Bicol Region, for more funds. Wondering why, Jane herself visited her warehouse and lo and behold — her mother had stacked it with bottles of pili oil.

 “Mom just kept on buying pili oil to help the farmers and she was swearing by its efficacy whenever she had a massage. She really loved it. She told me, ‘My skin is smoother. Ang ganda’.”

From being just her go-to massage oil, pili oil became a subject of Rosalina’s research. “She tapped people from UP,” recalls Jane.

Mother and daughter realized that the farmers were not making much despite the treasure growing in their backyards. For one, there were middlemen who had the capacity and the logistics to fulfill bulk orders.

Rosalina felt the farmers deserved better so she started to organize their production.

Right now, Rosalina counts 200 families in Sorsogon whose pili pulp oil business she’s supporting. They live in a remote place accessible by boat. “Hopefully, once we get bigger, we’re going to be able to help more farmers,” says Jane.

Pili oil goes to Vegas

Three years ago, Jane launched Pili Ani in a beauty show in Las Vegas and it received rave reviews.

Pili Ani was even featured in Bloomberg.com, which was quoted as saying, “After two months of testing, Pili Ani smoothed out fine creases, and the viscous oil lent skin that sought-after dewy look.”

It even compared pili oil to retinol, the “one magic wrinkle-eraser dermatologists agree on.”

“But you can’t get the high-concentration stuff without a prescription.” Ingredients such as pili or SK-II’s Pitera (a fermented fluid rich in amino acids), are effective, naturally sourced alternatives,” said Bloomberg.com.

Mons Romulo swears by Pili Ani’s moisturizer and lip balms.

Some Pili Ani products.

Pili Ani products, which include facial oil, facial milk serum, moisturizers, an eye-serum that claims to be a “de-puffer and an anti-wrinkle serum,” hair serum, facial cleansers, even an essential oil travel kit, are available in select outlets in the Shangri-La Mall, Rockwell, Megamall, SM Kultura and in the inflight boutique of Philippine Airlines.

Rosalina and Jane have another meaning for Pili, aside from being the name of the nut and the tree it comes from. To them, it also means, “choose or chosen.” Thus, they believe the humble pili tree is the “Chosen Tree.” Now that its amazing properties have come to the fore like oil in water, the pili tree could indeed have been chosen to erase wrinkles in many lives.

And the farmer who sold Rosalina her first bottle of pili oil?

 “He now has a jeep. Before, he would deliver on foot one gallon to two gallons, but now he delivers his goods using a jeep because production has increased. So, it has affected the whole family, the whole community.”

Indeed, many wrinkles have been erased. Permanently.

(You may e-mail me at [email protected] Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)




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