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Philippines Green opportunities in
health and wellness by the Go Negosyo team
14-April-2008 The Philippine STAR
Agriculture and medicine have
been the most rapid growth areas of biotechnology for the
past 20 years, but recent preference for preventive, rather
than curative, measures toward health has given space for
a wellness industry to boom.
“A lot of our native resources are rich with health benefits
that only need to be discovered and developed,” said Dr.
Verallo-Rowell, a respected dermatologist and founder of
VMV Skin Research Centre (VSRC), who has been promoting
the “coconut lifestyle” for some three years now.
A pioneer in the field of cosmetic and clinical dermatology,
Verallo-Rowell has long established her niche in the industry,
but refuses to stop doing research, which she considers
her passion. In fact, she has been continuously publishing
her discoveries in medical journals.
But before VSRC, she was best known for starting her own
company, VMV Hypoallergenics, which offers a unique brand
of hypoallergenic cosmoceuticals. Instead of focusing on
merchandising details, however, she was busy on product
research and development, which she said was the foundation
of healthy skin. Her years of studies and tests led her
to the potentials of the native coconut.
“It has been a well-entrenched myth that coconut oil is
bad oil, but it’s not,” she explained. She said that coconuts
can serve as natural antibiotics, which control acne and
disinfect the skin. “It has numerous benefits for the heart,
skin and resistance against cancer.”
Dr. Gisela Concepcion said that our biodiverse environment
does offer a lot of possibilities for cures and preventive
measures. “A lot of our natural resources contain compounds
that can be used to offer cheap and healthier products,”
Concepcion owns BioMart Asia Inc., a young company that
produces high-quality skin and health care and veterinary
products made from local herbs and plants. “Most of our
products contain compounds such as flavonoids, tannins and
polyphenols that are known to possess anti-oxidant properties
as well as other desirable effects such as antimicrobial,
chemoprotective, cancer preventive, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory
properties,” she explained.
“These are what we called ‘Biogenins’ which have been the
trademark ingredient of our product line,” she added. Biogenins
refer to a class of phytochemicals or plant secondary metabolite
primarily consisting of compounds found in fruits, vegetables
and woody plants.
Though their product line is made from local herbs and
plants, BioMart Asia has been using French technology and
processes. Some of their products also make use of patented
French ingredients. “I wanted to offer quality products
that are affordable because I wanted to show that good things
need not be expensive,” she said.
On the other hand, Dr. Rainier Villanueva is bringing Filipino
technology abroad. His company, Rainiers Research and Development
Institute (RRDI), has been the first Filipino herbal company
that established a manufacturing facility in the United
RRDI offers manufacturing services on cosmoceutical, nutraceutical
(food and dietary supplements) and home care products. These
products have also been distributed in some parts of Asia,
Australia, Europe, and North America.
“The company aims to come up with quality and effective
herbal based cosmetic products without distorting the normal
anatomy and the physiology of the human hair and skin,”
he said. His discovery and first formula on “lawat” (litsea
glutinosa), a medicinal plant indigenous to Masbate, his
hometown, has earned him his niche in the industry and won
him an award in the 27th Salon International des Inventions
held at Geneva, Switzerland. Lawat is traditionally used
in Visayan provinces to prevent hair whitening and hair
“There’s a big market for falling hair because most of
us use petroleum-based shampoo which is good for making
hair soft but causes it to fall. Petroleum products are
the cheapest material for softening hair, but this causes
our sebaceous gland to no longer produce oil and make hair
fall,” he explained.
Villanueva said that herbal and natural-based products
are great because they are healthier, more affordable, a
good alternative to synthetic drugs and free from side effects.
“If the government will promote medicinal plants in embassies
worldwide, we will create a big demand. That’s what Mahathir
of Malaysia did with a billion market in ‘tung kat ali’
which increases the immune system,” he said.
Since 1999, the worldwide herbal medicine market alone
has been growing at 10 to 20 percent yearly while herbal
cosmetics generated a billion in revenues. This is yet excluding
the boom of the wellness industry in the past years. Even
the local market is estimated at P1 billion, excluding markets
for approved herbal medicines like sambong, lagundi, tsaang
gubat, akapulko, and yerba buena.
“Our natural resources present a lot of opportunities,
if only we invest in research and development,” said Verallo-Rowell.
On April 16, Joey Concepcion, founding trustee of the Philippine
Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE), together with Maoi Arroyo
of Hybridigm Consulting will lead the conferring of recognitions
to Verallo-Rowell, Villanueva and Concepcion for their contributions,
as among Go Negosyo’s Most Inspiring Biotechnology Entrepreneurs,
in the 4th Annual Philippine Biotechnology Venture Summit
at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health Auditorium
in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City.
The Summit is organized by Hybridigm Consulting, in cooperation
with PCE Go Negosyo. PCE has been recognizing inspiring
entrepreneurs throughout the country to present them as
role models, in line with PCE’s vision to create an entrepreneurial
culture in the country.
The public is invited to attend the Biotechnology Venture
Summit to discover and learn innovative business ideas and
new opportunities in the biotech field. For more information
on the Biotech Summit, call 8108639 or log on to “http://summit.philbiotech.net”,
SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center UPLB Campus 4031, Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
Telephone +6349 536 2290 ext. 406 / 169 / 135
Fax +6349 536 4105
SEARCA BIC is one of the biotechnology information nodes of the International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Global Knowledge
Center (ISAAA KC) and hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center
for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). It was officially
established in 2000 to address the needs of the region for a highly
credible, sound and factual biotechnology information center in the
Southeast Asian region accessible to various stakeholders.