Saturday Success Story FIVE: BERNADETTE DELOS SANTOS (a.ka. Ms.BIDIBIDI)
Our Saturday Success Story Five is a powerhouse in the third class municipality of Baao, Camarines Sur. She uses her passion in art and culture to transform this farming community into a destination spot for food, music, travel and crafts. She was the first woman farmer and owner in the area and possibly in the entire island to farm organically. She is an inspiration and the hope to some students in Baao. She provides livelihood; supports education and scholarship; she manages a band; she organizes art exhibits; she welcomes some Philippine dignitaries and other local followers in her exotic farm Bed and Breakfast; she lives in a bahay-na-bato (house of rock) which is also a venue of electic art, poetry and book events – and in 2008, she was awarded the Department of Agriculture’s “Most Outstanding Rural Woman”. She is a very busy woman who never fails to show her passion in life.
It’s her passion that drives her to do great things, such as these.
And it is only the beginning.
Her life is as great as her past and current projects. She traveled and worked extensively all over the world, before deciding to settle down in the place where her parents brought her up. In 2004, she decided to go back to her hometown and re-invent the art and culture scene in Baao. She then created many opportunities to give back to her community. She keeps the wheel going and going and there is no way of stopping her.
Our Success Story Five is no other than MS. BERNADETTE DELOS SANTOS, better known as Ms.Bidibidi among close friends and family. Read her story and how she, a woman is building and recreating a town as environmentally-friendly as she can!
1. Tell us about yourself. Your mission in life and your philosophy.
Answer: I am a Business Management graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, who made a conscious decision of resettling back in my beloved hometown, Baao, Camarines Sur. My mission in life defines my rural lifestyle: serving, giving back and being outstanding. My philosophy is - just do it! It sounds commercial, but it is really the one thing that I follow. I just do it! I am not easily dissuaded by obstacles.
2. What are your current projects, your past accomplishments and your background?
Answer: I have several projects that are concurrently happening:
a. La Huerta de Rosario – an agri-tourism destination in the Bicol Region. It is a place where people can experience the rural lifestyle, enjoying the lush greenery and farm harvest and the local culinary delights. It offers breakfast food all day and lunch by appointment. The Casita de Teresa, in La Huerta is in the offing to offer accommodations to tourists needing to stay overnight. La Huerta also lets guests experience the joy of the harvest as they can pick and buy the vegetables in season. La Huerta believes in making vegetables available for local consumption. We deliver vegetables fresh from the farm to the kitchen. Food served at La Huerta are the freshest and most succulent from the harvest. We incorporate the harvest in the menu.
b. F.A.R.M. by bidibidi – (Fabulously & Absolutely Rural-Made) is a social enterprise, in that, it addresses several social problems and provide simple solutions, by engaging in an entrepreneurial activities:
- Artful Recycling – all F.A.R.M. products use used and discarded buttons and fabrics. We advocate green fashion by using recycled materials in making our fashion accessories.
-Livelihood to rural women – F.A.R.M. teaches rural women some simple skills in making the products. even stay at home mothers can work for F.A.R.M. as they can bring materials home and bring back finished product components.
- Education to Baao youth – as of the moment, I am sending eight college students to a local agricultural university. I believe that education is the only key to emancipation from poverty. To be qualified, a student has to be a Baaoeno.
c. Burikbutikan Baao @ Cafe des Artes – a group of Baaoeno visual artists that I organized and manage. I have turned a part of my residence into a gallery where artists can exhibit their art works. we have held several art exhibits, poetry reading, book launchings at the Cafe des Artes. I believe that art and literature is the heart and soul of a community that it is important that artists have a place where they can showcase their art.
d. Estudiantinas de la Soledad de Baao – I manage a 98-man band composed mostly of students and a few old members, all volunteers. The group performed during the Soledad procession during Good Friday in Baao and the Perdon procession during the Penafrancia Fest in Naga City. We play the music of the Soledad which are composed of Baaoeno artists, too.
3. How did you conceptualize the F.A.R.M. bracelet? Why did you start doing it?
Answer: F.A.R.M. was conceptualized in the later part of 2008, after the Department of Agriculture honored me with an award as Outstanding Rural Woman. After receiving the award, I made it my mission to serve more, the rural women, especially of Baao, who are often marginalized and neglected in terms of opportunities given. So, I coined the F.A.R.M. acronym and registered it at the Intellectual Property Office, that now, is a Trade mark. It is not only used in the original bracelet designs, it is also used in other products that we make like: bags, totes, home furnishings, etc.
The word F.A.R.M. would also remind people of the farm that I own, which is La Huerta. So, it is like hitting two birds with one stone.
4. I heard that you were once in the USA, what brought you back to the Philippines? What were your experiences in the US that is helping you create/establish all of these projects that you have, e.g. your farm (that is recently open for public wedding receptions), your bracelet and your foundation, your engagement in the community’s livelihood?
Answer: I was actually all over the place. (LOL!) My last stop was the US, before I resettled back in Baao. I worked in the UK, travelled Europe, worked in Singapore, travelled Asia, worked in the US, held an exhibit in the US, before I went back home. My mother’s passing away, was the deciding factor. Although, I still consider it to be a conscious decision on my part to resettle back in Baao, my mother’s demise was a great factor. She made me the administratrix of our properties, so that I stayed, thinking it will just be for a while, but lingered and stayed for good. So, now, I only visit the US for holidays.
While in the US, I have been to farms and was greatly influenced by it. The concept of pick and buy was actually patterned from farm practices in Monterey and Salinas, CA. The original concept was to have an ornamentals farm to product plants for landscaping, but the farm eventually evolved to what it is now, an agri-tourism destination and a venue for special events.
5. Who are your inspiration/s? What were the impacts they made on you and how have you been applying these to your life?
Answer: My mother was the one who instilled in me the love for gardening. She has the most beautiful garden at our place in Baao. So, I got from her my love for landscaping and gardening, that La Huerta boasts of a beautifully landscaped garden and farm, that is not often found in other conventional farms.
My earliest memory of farming was going to our rice fields with my father. Maybe that influenced my love for farming, too. But I have little recollection of my father as he passed away when Iwas only 12 years old.
6. What do you think is the most important skill that one should have in order to establish success in any endeavor?
Answer: The one thing that one must have to be successful in any endeavor is passion. One has to love what he/she does. Other traits are important too: perseverance, hard work, optimism, innovativeness and creativity. But what is most important is the passion. It is the fuel that ignites.
7. What are the qualities that you have that people admire? Why do you think they admire you for that?
Answer: Oh, am not sure of that. (laughs) Not sure if people admire me. (laughs again!)
I believe people admire me for my passion in the things I do. They look up to me because they know that whatever I do, I make sure I am outstanding in it. When I farm, I am the best farmer; when I am with my band, I am the best musician; when I paint, I produce the best on the canvass. I believe, that is what is important – to do the best that I can and be the best that I am.
8. Can you share us, what has made you successful in launching your business and your passion in life?
Answer: I believe that the novelty of the idea of my bracelets has contributed a lot in the success of its launching. When people got to know my innovative product, the materials that I use, and that my enterprise has a corresponding social contribution, that ensured success.
9. After these projects, what else do you have in mind? What would be your next goals?
I am in the process of finishing the Casita structure at the farm, which will offer accommodations to tourists.
I am in the middle of making 49 paintings to celebrate my 49th in April next year
I am also on the way to creating 60 patchwork quilts before i turn 60.
I will hold an exhibit in Madrid, Spain in 2013.
I want to travel more – Paris, Portugal, Mongolia, Nepal, Denmark, Sweden.
10. Finally, what is your definition of success. Your final words for our readers.
Answer: Success is subjective.
To some, it may mean money in the bank, children’s college diplomas, travels, several cars, houses, etc.
To me, success is the number of people’s lives that I have touched, thru my simple lifestyle. With what I do, I may not become rich, but I am definitely enriched!
Daily with you,
To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.