Amid the pandemic, companies around the globe have unfortunately closed their doors and left their employees jobless. But Pili Ani co-founders Rosalina Tan (Founder, Pili Ani) & Mary Jane Tan-Ong (President & CEO of Pili Naturals USA & Elemie Naturals Inc) thought otherwise. Pili Ani is a Filipino-owned beauty brand that focuses on essential oil blends and skincare created in the Philippines.
Several beauty products are manufactured with natural substances, and there are those made with chemicals that are prevalently available today. The former can be highly beneficial, whereas the latter may cause more harm than good. Pili Ani is a natural beauty care brand that sells products such as facial oils, facial cream, toner, facial mist, facial mask, facial cleanser, and hand & body lotion to name a few. All these are manufactured from Pili and Elemi oils. The numerous advantages that plant-based products give are driving an increase in the popularity of these items. The Pili tree and the Pili nut are great examples of nature’s miracles.
Pili is a Bicolano nut tree found in the Bicol area located in the southeastern end of Luzon, Philippines. Pili are well-known for being a healthy source of protein and calcium, as well as a tasty snack. Vitamin E, which is plentiful in this product, helps fight free radicals while strengthening the immune system. However, many individuals are unaware that Pili possess potent anti-aging benefits.
Pili fruit and resin oil are high in antioxidants and vitamins, making them a powerful healing and moisturizing serum. Aside from that, its anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties make it an excellent therapeutic oil for skin disorders and allergies.
On the other hand, extracting the oil is an uphill task, which sets this natural beauty product apart from the rest. A total of 1,500 Pili fruits are required to produce one liter of Pili oil. For this exact reason, co-founders Rosalina and Mary Jane and the Pili Ani team adopted a daring strategy to withstand the crisis while other companies across all industries were looking to cut expenses and stay in business. The team decided to take a braver step by buying more products from the farmers to help them and their families, all while growing the business more despite the pandemic.
The importance of helping farmers thrive through the pandemic is evident in Pili Ani’s actions when the pandemic started. “We have to assure our farmer cooperators are protected, and we maintained our contracted price even though the buying market price was below their production cost,” according to Pili Ani Founder Rosalina Tan. Co-founder, CEO & President Mary Jane Tan-Ong also said they were “lucky enough that we have other businesses to help us sustain us. Our farmers are dependent on these harvested sales, and we cannot just leave them, especially in these trying times.”
When the founders were asked what steps they had to take to help local farmers during the pandemic, Rosalina Tan says: “During the pandemic, Pili Ani didn’t stop buying the harvested fruits as we know this was a critical time.” Rosalina was well aware that farmers needed the support for selling their produce as most buyers stopped buying because of lockdown or there was no market. CEO & President Mary Jane Tan-Ong adds: “We made sure that we continued buying from our partner farmers as we believe that they need it more now versus the pre-pandemic situation.”
It was Rosalina Tan’s idea to start Pili Ani, a pioneer in organic farming in the Philippines. To help 200 local farmers and their families, Mary Jane Tan-Ong and her daughter helped set up the business.
Because Pili means “choose” and Ani means “harvest,” Pili Ani directly means “Chosen Harvest.” The Pili Tree, commonly called “The Chosen Tree,” is the only tree in the Philippines that survives typhoon season unscathed and even produces more fruit than usual. Pili Ani significantly manifests these characteristics in handling the business through the pandemic.
Pili Ani was initially developed to support local farmers and communities in the Bicol region. Pili and elemi oils are derived from the pili tree, which these hardworking farmers sustainably planted, harvested, and created. These two different oils are produced by the fruit and the sap from the tree’s trunk. Pili oil aids in the healing of wounds and allergies and the prevention of scarring from more severe skin diseases. On the other hand, Elemi oil treats dull skin, fine lines, breakouts, and wrinkles on the face and body.
According to Mary Jane Tan-Ong on how sourcing ingredients locally benefit both farmers and Pili Ani, she says: “With the terrible global port congestion that brought the world into a full stop, being able to source local ingredients helps bring out the continuity and full sustainability cycle of our products.” The brand still depends on outside active ingredients and packaging but having the main ingredient available locally is a significant factor in creating a genuinely sustainable livelihood from the fruit to the bottle.
In addition to enhancing the lives of Pili tree keepers, the brand also runs sustainability programs on the farm by educating farmers on the production of pili and elemi oil without harming nature or the environment even before the pandemic started. That means less raw resources are exported, which benefits the entire Bicol region financially.
“Pili Ani is also affected by the pandemic, but we cannot stop,” says Rosalina. They aim to persevere to give hope and continuity to the rising Pili industry. “We can’t step back waiting for the right time since we passionately believe that the pandemic is temporary. We have to support our affiliated farmers’ cooperatives by continuously buying the product and doing more research and innovation on product development during the lockdown. Hoping and praying for the best,” she adds. They encourage the farmers to plant more pili trees in the meantime and are looking at the long-term on developing pili as the next best Holy Grail in wellness and beauty products for the global market.
Mary Jane adds, “realizing that we are at the position to either stop or wait until the pandemic clears, we have opted to continue helping and creating a livelihood. We are in a better position to do so; we are all healthy and still able to live a life that can still create a livelihood for others even during this pandemic, inspiring us to strive better and work better. As we grow, our farmers will also grow, and therefore, this is truly a remarkable journey for Pili Ani not only for our farmers but for the Philippine economy as well.”
With the pandemic still on the rise, Pili Ani gets the inspiration and motivation to continue their work to thrive and help local farmers at the same time by going back to the roots of the business – helping the community and its local farmers.
Available at: www.piliani.com