Berry picking-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
IT HAD reached the point that she began to feel like a truck driver. Working as a visiting nurse in Los Angeles, a huge portion of her day was spent behind the wheel, going through the city’s heavy traffic under the glaring heat, with only a large cup of cappuccino to get her by.
She would hop from one patient’s house to the next, with the occasional stopovers at fast food joints in between. It does not take a medical professional to point out that that was far from a healthy lifestyle; and as she herself had said back then, “Dili na man gyud ni mao.”
At that point, Cathy Salimbangon saw the need for her to take food supplements as aid to her busy routine. She had tried several kinds but only one appealed to her: The acai, a plum-like berry that grows on a palm tree native to Brazil.
“Acai is rich in antioxidants,” Cathy began. Other health benefits include boosting one’s immune system and the lowering of the blood pressure and cholesterol. The berry also has anti-ageing properties, and it is said to be the secret of Brazilian models and beauty queens. It was only in recent years that the berry, which spoils in a day, could be brought out of the country through a freeze-drying process.
Cathy was quite satisfied with the effects of the berry on her overall well-being. However, it was not right then and there that she decided to bring it to the Philippines. Even if she admitted to always having been “business-inclined,” what ultimately prodded the budding entrepreneur were her experiences in her duties as a nurse.
It was seeing her aging patients, who could barely get up and feed themselves, that convinced her to pursue her passion while she is young and able. Cathy said: “It dawned on me that it is okay to make sacrifices now; rather than when the time will come nga dili naka kalihok, anha pa ka ka-realize.”
Today, 38-year-old Cathy is the founder and president of Organique, the pioneering Filipino brand that creates acai-based products such as a juice drink and soap, and the upcoming acai-based coffee. Organique was conceptualized by Cathy and her husband, Elton, back in 2008.
“I believe that when you go into business, it’s not the business that you’re going for,” Cathy explained, rather it is about the vision they want to achieve. The couple’s long-term goal is to make Organique Acai a brand of wellness available in many parts of the globe.
"It may be costly, but it’s worth it,” she said, referring to her venture. “There’s a lot at stake. The product is new, the pronunciation is challenging, etc.”
What keeps Cathy going is the positive feedback she receives from clients. Among those that have attested the product’s health benefits are patients of stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and urinary diseases.
“As a nurse, it’s a gratifying experience,” Cathy shared. She may not have been by the patient’s bedside, but she was able to help out somehow.
From the name itself, the edge of Organique’s products is essentially how it is naturally prepared. Cathy explained: “It’s not mainly that you’re taking a food supplement, that’s it. How the supplements are prepared is also important because if it has so many preservatives—after five to 10 years, your liver and kidney will be affected. It then defeats the purpose of becoming healthy.”
Cathy had previously worked as a bedside nurse in several nursing homes around the US. Then in her two-year stint at Fresno, California, she led the center as director of nursing.
She divulged that in her younger years, she never saw herself in the medical field, and that the reason she studied nursing in college was that all of her friends were also taking it. It is her background in the nursing profession though that has allowed her to have a clearer understanding in her founding of Organique, and to be able to better promote something that is dear to her. As she would put it, “Everything is falling into place.”
“At that time, I didn’t realize that being a nurse would help me. Everything is connected ra jud,” Cathy said.
Cathy shares that the transition from a nurse to an entrepreneur has been smooth. She said, “It works better because I now manage my own time. (In the US) I was able to spend time with my kids, but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was just getting by, surviving every day.”
In closing, she said, “You just believe and keep doing what you like doing.”
Indeed, not only has this simple berry picking made Cathy healthier, but more importantly, it has also made her happier.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2012.