Success Story: Joyce Peñas Pilarsky


By Alpha M. Sanford


To end this year with our success story series, I chose to feature Ms. Joyce Pilarsky as she embodies what I think a 2012 success story of a woman: courageous, spiritual, kind, calm, energetic, humble, artistic, resourceful, decisive, community-leader, visionary, fashion-designer, creative director, educator, singer, speaker, sculptor, fashion model, book author, world traveler, classy, former Manila Top Model and beauty queen – you name it! As a Filipina, I believe she has accomplished a lot in a year (please read how she recounted her 2012 and how she was able to do all of these things in just twelve months!) – and she is charged to do more in the coming year.

What you are about to read are some of the most authentic first-hand experiences of Ms. Joyce Pilarsky and how she continues to see herself as an inspiration to many women in the Philippines and around the world with her book, her singing abilities and her fashion and jewelry designs.

I was one of the lucky persons to see her in person during the Brooklyn Fashion Weekend in Brooklyn, New York. Her designs along with another Filipino clothing designer, John Guarnes made me proud of my roots once and for all.

This is her story – and may the story of Joyce Pilarsky inspire you to do more, do better and do your best as 2013 unfolds.


AMS: What is your latest project?

Joyce: Since I am a person with lots and lots of interest. I will share with you my projects this year. I am so happy to be able to finish the floating school for the Monobo Tribe, our foundation’s donation which we inaugurated this January, for our Monobo Tribe in the marshland of Agusan del Norte, Philippines.

Our travel was very very interesting. It took us six hours by small boat during a stormy day. I was wet and then dry throughout our travel until we reached our destination. There were giant water lilies blocking our way and the Governor said, “It is your decision Joyce. Do we go forward or do we go back?”

In my mind I said, “Go back? No way!!!!!”

I was telling myself, “I travelled long hours from Germany to here to be able to inaugurate this Monobo school; then I woke up so early in the morning to get to this small boat to take us here. It rained and my clothes dried on me, when the sun came up again and we are only one hour away from the school, where a lot of people are awaiting our arrival? There must be a way. I won’t give up at this point!”

So what did I do? I looked at him with my sweetest smile and I just held his hand and told him. We don’t give up, do we Governor?

Having said that he ordered his men to clear the way as we were passing. I rejoiced inside me.

So we waited until they were able to cut the water lilies blocking our way so that we could pass through the marshland. I just enjoyed watching the beautiful sceneries and landscapes that I could see along the way. I never thought that there were around 5, 000 crocodiles underneath the marsh, where they caught the biggest crocodile in the world!
And in those huge trees were big pythons and other varieties of poisonous snakes.

At that time, I wasn’t aware of them because nobody told me. So all along I was just meditating and singing. I didn’t know that a lot of my companions were all afraid already because they know of the danger around us. Later on, they said they were inspired by my calmness and my smiles every time I looked at them. So they calmed down as well. When we finally reached our destination all the children, their parents and their teachers were waving at us; welcoming us with their beautiful smiles and the eyes of the children were sparkling as if they have seen angels coming down. I will never forget this beautiful experience my whole life!

Being able to make it possible for the Monobo children to have a school where they will be educated for a better future – that’s something that will make me proud to share to others! I felt their happiness and thankfulness by the way they smiled at us.

In August of this year we also inaugurated the first floating library in Butuan City which our foundation also donated.

A few of my projects this year involved my fashion shows:

I started to present my collection in the Philippine fashion week last year. This year I received an invitation to present my collection in the J. Summer Fashion Show in Seine, Paris. On July 30th, I fulfilled that invitation.

On August 5th, I presented a fashion show at the Brenners Park Hotel in Baden, Germany which was shortly followed by my BK Fashion Weekend in Brooklyn, New York on September 29th. In October, I did the Philippine Fashion Week at the Mall of Asia! I think it’s actually a lot of fashion projects in a year considering the fact that I just started presenting my collections last year.

Another project I did this year, was a benefit concert with our Asian Queen of songs Pilita Corales in Butuan City. Together with the Adventist Glee choir, the concert was entitled, “One Enchanted Evening”. I also did three more concerts together with the Adventist Glee entitled “Joyce for Hope” in Mindanao, Philippines. All proceeds of those concerts were donated to the Sendong flood victims in the Philippines. After that I did two more concerts, in the Mandaluyong Hall, Manila, Philippines. I also did a jazz concert here in Karlsruhe, Germany on the 14th of July with the jazz ensemble of the Music Hochschule with Mr , Peter Lehel a famous German saxophonist.

Next project happened in May when I launched my book, “YSG. YOUNG. SEXY and GORGEOUS” This book is about staying healthy and young, fit and fabulous at any age. I wrote a lot of how-tos on living a healthy life. There are also a lot of personal experiences and those of my friends which are essential to ones well being.

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AMS: What inspired you to write this book?

Joyce: I was inspired to write the book because a lot of people have always been asking me for advice, so I started to write the book. Actually, when I was modeling last October 2010 at the Philippine Convention Center doing fashion for a cause with around 200 designers of the country a lot of young models asked me the secret of my looking so sexy and young looking when they know that I have been modeling for quite sometime. They know me in my fashion shows at the Hyatt Hotel way back in the 80’s, and now we are doing the show together. Then, they all gathered around me and asked for tips what to do with this and that. I just told them ok, why I don’t write a book! Then they all said, they will be the first ones to buy the book. So I did it and I was so happy that I had the book launch in May.


AMS: Where can our readers get a copy of it?

Joyce: It is now available at selected National Bookstores, Fully Booked and Power Bookstore. It is also available online at

AMS: What is your biggest achievement so far?

Joyce: That our foundation was able to build this floating school in the marshland for the Monobo tribe children; that we were able to build a floating library in Butuan city; then a vocational school for the street children in Bustos, Bulacan and of course seeing some of our scholars who finished college now have jobs of their own.

When it comes to my fashion, I praise God that I was able to do international fashion shows this year.

When it comes to my book, I am glad that I was able to publish my very first health book YSG Young, Sexy and Gorgeous.

When it comes to my benefit concerts, I am happy I am able to do what I love best – singing.

When it comes to failures – oh well, sometimes we make mistakes because we are only human and we are not perfect. But I learned to accept what I can’t change and just make the most of it and to also have a positive attitude that all will be well.

joyce with john


AMS: I totally agree. What else have you learned from your failures?
Joyce: God did not promise us a bed of roses. There will be thorns along the way but stumbling blocks are stepping stones to success as long as we are capable of learning from it. Sometimes what appears to be our biggest problem in life may disguise as our greatest opportunity, so we have to be aware of that.

Whatever our situation maybe it is our attitude that counts and determines our success.

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AMS: What has helped you get through your failures?

Joyce: In my life experiences I resolve to be positive in all my dealings and have that faith in God that He is always there guiding me to make the right decisions. I believe it is only God who can open doors for us which may be forever closed.

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AMS: As we prepare for the New Year, what do you look forward in 2013?

Joyce: I want to continue the things that I am doing in the next year. I will be preparing for my next collection. I also want to do my fashion shows and benefit concerts.

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AMS: How do you see yourself ten years from now?

Joyce: In the next ten years I am praying that I would be an established international fashion designer; seeing myself building more schools and sending more children to schools and also building hospital for the poor people. I see myself giving a lot of benefit concerts and writing more books. I also see myself doing a lot of hosting and speaking engagements and also exhibitions of my paintings and ceramics and sculpture.

AMS: What are your most inspiring moments?

Joyce: When I saw the faces of the children lit as they saw me. They were all smiling at me and wanted to touch me. So I shook their hands or patted their cheeks or brushed my hand touching their hair. It was a nice experience with the children thus inspiring me more to build more schools.

Every time I visit the children of Bustos, Bulacan they flock all over me and sit on my lap or grab my hand to embrace them. Just imagine this – it’s too hot outside and they were playing and when they see me they come and embrace me right away. Or the feeling of happiness whenever we visit an orphanage we are supporting and all the babies will put their hands on me as if telling me to please hug them and embrace them and take them into my arms. You can sense that these babies need the warmth and embrace of their mothers who are missing in their lives.

These scenes are very inspiring to me – and I encourage you to do the same this holiday season or anytime you are free. I also challenge you to visit any institution with children and you will tell me how it feels and I bet your life will never be the same after the experience.

AMS: What are the most important skills you need to be successful in life?
Joyce: I think the most important skills you need to be successful is really to do the thing that you love most and then put all your love and passion and give your everything and be dedicated to it – and do your best! Then you will succeed.

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AMS: How do you define success?

Joyce: Success for me is when I make somebody happy in my own small way because I made a difference in her or his life.

AMS: What are your favorite quotes?

Joyce: I have a lot of quotes to share which guide me in my journey to this wonderful mysterious adventure called life. I would like to leave you with these quotes:

“In everything you do put God first and he will direct your path.”

“Love is the only weapon we need to fight wars.”

“Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.”

“In this lifetime just do the things you want to do and whatever it is you want go for it.”

“Life is too short to be miserable. So live your life. Be happy. Tell the people you love that you love them while they are here with you now; sometimes it’s just too late.”

“Let’s spend more time with the people we love because for me the important thing in life
is to have somebody you love who loves you and if you found them never let them go
and enjoy every minute of your togetherness each and everyday of your life. This is Gods gift to you.”


To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.