This Strange & Hopeful Birthday

I turn 35 years old today.


YES, I have accumulated a LOT of selfies the past few weeks while in Quarantine.

I have experienced really strange birthdays before so I thought that anything could happen and I’ll be prepared. But I did not expect this and absolutely was not prepared for it. A Pandemic of this scale and magnitude. In our lifetime. Wow.

Part of me is still in shock to be honest. But part of me is also hopeful. 🙂

Because birthdays are the best click baits, I thought of using mine as a platform to share hope-driven calls to action. There are a few things that give me hope these days, and they give me hope precisely because they inspire action. If you feel like giving me a birthday gift (hahah – but these are more gifts for others really), I hope you can consider doing one (or more) of these:

1. Pre-order / Support / Promote Sol, our Rags2Riches Summer Collection for 2020.

Our designer, Chris Cera, designed the collection earlier this year when we all thought that 2020 will just be like any other year and we’ll continue creating livelihood opportunities for our artisans.

But 2020 is turning out to be not just any other year.

Now more than ever, the opportunities we can create, will support the livelihood of some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

If and when you can, I hope you can support us during this time. 🙂 We’ll be putting the pieces up for pre-order and when possible (after the lockdown), our artisans will make them and we’ll deliver them to you.

Your purchase today will be our bridge to a tomorrow that is safe and secure for our company and artisans. You can pre-order here (launching at 3pm, April 6).


While we respond to the needs of our community now (by staying at home, supporting the frontliners), we can also invest on our future through supporting local enterprises.

Aside from R2R, please also support local enterprises, freelancers, and other service-providers.

2. Get yourself, your family, and community front-liners Reusable Face Masks from enterprises that are supporting people.

While our Rags2Riches artisans (and all of us, really) are on enhanced community quarantine, we have been finding ways to continue the livelihood of our artisans and prepare our enterprise for the future.

One of the products some of our artisans are able to make from home right now, is this Reusable Cloth Face Mask. Each piece sustains our artisans who can work from home as well as our artisans who don’t have the means to. You can buy them here we are restocking them almost ever day.

You can also buy Face Masks from other heart-driven enterprises such as Anthill, CANDID, Habi Lifestyle, TELA Story, among others.

Reusable Masks

3. Help our Frontliners from all sectors and industries

You can read the Things That Matter Blog on the 5 Small Ways to Help Out During COVID-19., or this information hub on how you can help from home

Talino Crowdconnect is also launching this week. It is a COVID-19 response platform that connects the needs of the front liners to the supplier of these needs, as well as the funding for them. For example, if a hospital is looking for X number of N95s, they can be connected to a supplier and a donor who can buy them these supplies (within a fair price range).

4. Promote or Apply for (if you are a front-liner or if you / your company will be moving essential goods) a RapidPass.

RapidPass is powered by DCTX, a team of quarantined, yet passionate designers-volunteers, under COVID-19 Technology Initiative.

They are also launching their free website today that will enable front-liners, essential deliveries vehicles, and the like, to pass through checkpoints quickly without the need for close human contact. This system will get essentials moving quickly (like food, medicine, etc) and help keep our front liners safe.

If you qualify, you may apply for a RapidPass here.

5. If you are an entrepreneur / start-up / business owner (or if you are thinking of starting one), keep yourself informed and as ready as possible for the future

I know that these days are hard for entrepreneurs and MSMEs. Many of us are seriously thinking of (or are in the middle of) pausing, pivoting, and even closing. Even as we go through the challenges, let’s also constantly equip ourselves with the information and resources we need to support our people, identify gaps that we can provide or serve, and plan for the future while bringing as many people as we can with us.

SME-relevant updates will be shared via this Telegram channel hosted by UNAWA:

UNAWA is the most comprehensive regulatory tech (“regtech”) startup in Southeast Asia. UNAWA can handle the tedious, confusing, and time consuming part of starting a business: registration (among others). 

I am incredibly fortunate that the things I am hopeful for are also the things I’m working on / am part of, every single day even throughout this quarantine.

As many of you know, I am co-founder and President of R2R. I am also currently the Director for Strategic Finance of Talino Venture Labs, which supports Talino Venture Labs is also the start-up builder behind Talino CrowdConnect and Unawa (among others). These companies are filled with people who have been working hard not just for themselves and their families, but for our bigger community.

So while this birthday is my strangest one yet, it is also the most inspiring.

Thank you for attending my TedTalk! 🙂

Stay at home, support our front-liners, and fuel your hope with action.


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