March 5, 2018

Learn about the social enterprise climate in Southeast Asia from local innovators

In addition to visiting a total of 8 social enterprises in 4 different regions of the Philippines, learning sessions with local innovators will be sprinkled throughout the itinerary. Speakers for this trip will include Reece Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Anya Lim of ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, Hannah Theisen of A Beautiful Refuge, Mark and Rochelle Martin of Precious Trading Company, and Kylie Misa of WVN Home, covering topics ranging from zero waste fashion to fair wages to sustainable farming.

Learn from women who know the inside of the ethical fashion industry better than anyone.

We’ll visit weaving communities, production facilities, and ethically-run workshops. You’ll have the chance to sit alongside artisans and be involved in the process of making a garment. You’ll learn how to repurpose fabric scraps into a unique accessory, sew and print your own tee shirt, and more through several exclusive workshops for our group. You’ll get to hear workers’ experiences within the conventional fashion industry, and learn what’s next as we look toward the future of ethical fashion in the Philippines.

Be immersed in the color and beauty of Filipino nature and culture while participating in tourism-gone-right 

It would be ridiculous to spend ten days in the Philippines without taking in the beauty of the turquoise waves, coral reefs, and mountain vistas that make this tiny chain of islands one of the most beautiful places on earth, so we’re going to do a bit of tourist-ing. You’ll get to experience Surfing Lessons, snorkeling, waterfall hikes, and more- but even those moments will be laced with learning opportunities and positive impact.

We’ll learn to surf from a female surfing champion who’s smashing gender barriers, stay in a beach hostel that’s fighting single use plastic, take a walking tour of historic Manila that will tackle important topics like colonialism and development, eat at a bakery that provides job training for marginalized youth. Tourism dollars play an important role in the Philippine’s economy, and we’ll make sure to funnel all of ours into people and initiatives that are contributing toward the local community in a helpful way.


All-Inclusive trip INCLUDES:

  • Transportation within the Philippines: We’ll cover all ground travel and flights within the Philippines.

    Ready to explore?? We’ll visit 5 different areas of the Philippines- mountains, ocean, farmland, and city.
  • 10 Breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 dinners: You’ll get a taste of traditional Filipino food, and enjoy delicious vegetarian/vegan meals with a focus on local and organic ingredients. For the remaining meals, we’ll visit local restaurants where you’ll order for yourself.

  • Entrance to 5 Learning Sessions: All of our speakers and trainers are paid a fair wage for their time and expertise! Speakers for this trip will include Reece Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Anya Lim of ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, Hannah Theisen of A Beautiful Refuge and TELAstory Incorporated, Mark and Rochelle Martin of Precious Trading Company, and Kylie Misa of WVN Home.

  • Accommodation: We’ll be staying in group-style accommodations. You will have your own bed, but will be sharing a room with other participants. *If you’d prefer a private room, let us know- this is available upon request for an additional fee. 

  • All Costs for 7 Unique Excursions:
    Surfing Lessons– You’ll be paired with a local surf instructor for a one-on-one lesson in the gentle but exhilarating surf in La Union
    Snorkeling Trip– Dive into crystal clear waters and glide over a pristine coral reef with abundant tropical fish and vivid coral. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a giant sea turtle!
    Boat Trip across Taal Crater Lake– Travel across a glassy volcanic crater lake in a traditional Filipino “bangka” outrigger boat
    Hike to Taal Volcano– Experience the heat and steam radiating from the rocks on the side of the trail of this active volcano, and enjoy a beautiful view from the top!
    Waterfall Swim– Visit a hidden waterfall, and jump into the deep swimming hole below. Then relax in one of the huts built along the side of the waterfall while enjoying fresh fruits and local snacks.
    Walking Tour of Old Manila– Passionate and knowledgeable local guide, Dustin, will take you back in time as we explore Intramuros.
    Farm Tour– Learn about the sustainable farming techniques that create a better livelihood for struggling farmers at the GK Enchanted Farm.
    Outdoor Market– Visit one of Manila’s vibrant weekend markets and get a taste of the food, handicrafts, and culture of the Philippines’ many islands.

  • Hands-on Workshops
    Make your own woven wallet with the guidance of skilled artisans of Rags2Riches- the wallet is yours to keep!
    -Learn the skill of screenprinting in the A Beautiful Refuge workshop, and create your own ethically made tee and tote bag to bring home.

    -Make a bracelet with traditional Filipino woven fabrics with the women at Anthill Fabric Gallery and learn about the meaning behind each textile.

  • Support Staff
    Your trip will run smoothly thanks to your three dedicated guides who will serve as driver, translator, and coordinator.

  • Zero Waste Kit
    This trip is a zero-waste trip. Upon arrival, you’ll receive a zero waste kit containing tools like a high-tech filtering water bottle, mess kit, and more that will help you reduce your trash impact during your travels. The kit is yours to keep when you return home.


  • Extra Drinks: You’ll be responsible for purchasing your own coffee (aside from the coffee served each morning with breakfast), and alcoholic drinks. 

  • Airfare: Though we cover airfare within the country after your arrival, you will be responsible for your ticket from your country of origin. At the time of this writing, Google Flights has listings ranging from $409- $1200 flying out of Houston, Los Angeles, or Chicago. 


You’ll need to fly in to Ninoy Aquino International Airport- After that, we’ll take care of everything! We simply ask that you arrive anytime during day one of the trip.

  • VISA: A VISA is not required for most travelers wishing to visit the Philippines. We’ll inform you if you need a visa based on your country of origin.

  • Passport: Please be sure that your passport must be valid for at least 90 days after the date of the trip.

  • Vaccinations: If you are traveling from a country with Yellow Fever, it is required that you have a Yellow Fever vaccination. Otherwise, you are not required to have any vaccinations.


This is a sample detailed itinerary and small changes may occur in the schedule.


Everyone arrives in Manila throughout the day. You’ll be picked up at the airport by our team, and transferred to that night’s accommodations. You’ll have a healthy boxed lunch waiting for you, and you’ll be free to rest or take a swim. Alternately, you can choose to strike out on your own and explore with one of our team. The whole group will come together for a delicious Filipino dinner, before turning in for the night.


After breakfast at our accommodations, we’ll head out to explore one of Manila’s Sunday markets. You’ll see beautiful handicrafts and foods from all over the islands. We’ll have a vegan lunch (complete with fresh coconut!), then hop in the van to journey to Manila’s historic center, Intramuros. After reaching Intramuros, we’ll meet up with our local guide to walk through more than five hundred and fifty years of Philippine history- from the country’s foundation through its very liberation. You’ll learn about The Philippine’s past history of Spanish colonization and American control, and how the Philippine’s history affects it’s culture (and social enterprise community!) today while visiting some of the most stunning old architecture in the city including San Agustin Church & Museum, Casa Manila, Ristorante Delle Mitre, Plazuela Sta. Isabel, Plaza Roma, Fort Santiago, and the Fort Santiago Dungeons. This history lesson will form the perfect foundation for our learning sessions over the next week. We’ll rest our feet and head back to our accommodations for dinner.


After breakfast at our accommodations, we’ll visit Rags 2 Riches, a social enterprise in the heart of Manila that provides sustainable livelihood, financial literacy training, and more to men and women affected by poverty. First, we’ll participate in a weaving workshop, where we’ll be paired up with R2R’s skilled employees to learn how to upcycle fabric scraps into our own woven wallets. Following our hands-on workshop, we’ll sit down for a learning session with R2R founder Reece Fernandez-Ruiz : “Starting A Social Enterprise in Southeast Asia”. Reece will walk us though the early challenges in Rags 2 Riches’ history, and share their inspiring journey to becoming the successful organization that they are today, employing hundreds of workers and running several impactful programs.

After enjoying a late lunch, we’ll travel to GK Enchanted Farm. GK Enchanted farm is a part of Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine-based movement that aims to end poverty by first restoring the dignity of the poor. It employs an integrated and holistic approach to empowerment, currently working with over 2,000 communities and establishing social enterprises all over the Philippines. Upon arrival at the farm, we’ll join a tour of the farm and learn about sustainable agriculture. We’ll also tour two social enterprises on the farm’s grounds: Ambension Silk and Make Peace Bakery.

A delicious farm to table dinner will be served for our group at the farm, and we’ll have a free evening to enjoy exploring and hanging out before spending the night in one of the farm’s cabins.


We’ll get an early start on our day, leaving right away in the morning to travel to our next destination- but not before grabbing some delicious goods from Make Peace Bakery for a simple breakfast on the road! We’ll stop for coffee, then drive to San Juan La Union. We’ll arrive by lunchtime, and have a chill, vegan lunch at one of the local joints frequented by surfers, artists, and creatives.

Right after lunch, we’ll visit a group of handloom weavers, learn about their craft, and see them in action. We’ll be joined by Kylie Misa of WVN Home, a women-owned enterprise which co-creates contemporary textiles for the home by working with weaving community. Kylie will lead a learning session for us: “artisan-made as a tool for the preservation of tradition”.

Following our learning session, we’ll check in to a eco friendly surfing hostel on the beach. You’ll have free time until dinner to swim, sunbathe, and explore. The hostel is equipped with hammocks, bean bags, and a full bar where you can order a straw-free mojito, if you’d like. We’ll have dinner on the beach, with an option to join a beach jam or karaoke session.


We’ll enjoy a continental breakfast with lots of fresh fruit and local coffee to fuel us for the morning’s adventure- surfing lessons! You’ll be paired up one-on-one with a local instructor, who will guide you step-by-step as you take on the waves! Day 5 is a day to reflect and recharge after an action-packed itinerary, so we’ll plan for several hours of free time to rest following our surfing session. We’ll have lunch, then head out for a bit more exploration, chasing a few local waterfalls and swimming in the cool lagoons. We’ll leave La Union by 3pm, and stop for dinner on our drive back to Manila.


After a filling breakfast, we’ll head to the airport for the next leg of our trip- a quick 1.5 hour flight to Cebu. There, we’ll have lunch and transfer to ANTHILL Fabric Gallery. There, we’ll learn about the background of this inspiring social enterprise which is employing artisans throughout the Philippines, and get a glimpse of their zero-waste techniques for crafting unique, ethically made garments. Our Learning Session with ANTHILL Co-Founder Anya Lim will be focus on “Slow, Sustainable Fashion and Zero Waste Innovations”. You’ll get to craft your own item from fabric scraps, with the guidance of ANTHILL’s Artisans!

For an afternoon pick-me-up, we’ll stop by a “Chocolate cafe” where we’ll learn about the Philippine’s cacao industry, and sample traditionally prepared hot chocolate and local desserts! After checking in to our accommodations, we’ll head out for a discovery dinner with several Cebu-based social entrepreneurs who will inspire you with their stories. You’ll have the option to head back to our accommodations for an early bedtime, or head out for a drink and some live music at a local bar.


We’ll take a day-long excursion to one of the island’s best snorkeling spots. Our journey will begin with a quick morning drive to our drop-off location, where we’ll hop on a boat and glide out over the ocean to a coral reef teeming with life. Lunch will be a picnic on the beach!


Breakfast on our final morning in Cebu will be a traditional Filipino breakfast (veganized!) and vegan donuts! We’ll board a flight back to Manila and be back in the city by noon. We’ll have lunch and then make the 1.5 hour drive to Tagaytay, a beautiful town overlooking the Taal volcano and crater lake. We’ll stop for coffee and enjoy the dazzling view, then take the afternoon to explore the town before checking in to our accommodations.
At our accommodations, We’ll enjoy a delicious community dinner with entrepreneur couple Mark and Rochelle Martin of Precious Trading Company, featuring fresh local produce and Filipino superfoods. Dinner will be followed by a casual learning session and Q&A with Mark and Rochelle, “Empowering farmers through the slow food movement”.

 DAY 9

Armed with coffee, we’ll tackle a morning Learning Session with Hannah Theisen of A Beautiful Refuge and TELAstory: “working within a broken system: what social enterprises can do to fight back against inequality”. After a group discussion, we’ll head to the A Beautiful Refuge workshop, where the women of ABR will prepare a delicious meal of Tinola- a comforting soup filled with ginger, garlic, and sayote. Following lunch, we’ll have a hands-on workshop, where the women of ABR will teach you how to screen print. You’ll make your own tee and tote bag, and learn about the history of A Beautiful Refuge from the workers themselves.

We’ll also visit Safe Refuge, ABR’s partner NGO, and learn about the sex trafficking industry in the Philippines, plus Safe Refuge’s work to combat it over the past 12 years. The Safe Refuge kids hate getting left out of the fun, so we’ll have a bubble blowing party and make a sweet merienda (afternoon snack) of carmelized bananas to share with the entire group.

We’ll have dinner at an organic cafe, while taking some time to unpack the day’s learning points. After dinner, we’ll have an optional trip to the marketplace where you can shop for fun foods and souveniers to bring home.

DAY 10

Adventure day! We’ll explore more of the natural beauty of the Philippines by venturing across Taal crater lake and hiking “the world’s smallest active volcano”! You’ll actually be able to see steam and flames coming out from beneath the rocks, and you’ll get an amazing view of the bright turquoise, bubbling water in the volcano’s center.

The hike will be hot and dusty, so we’ll rinse off, grab a quick bite to eat, and then head straight to a local waterfall to swim and cool off!

We’ll end the day with a group dinner + farewell party – complete with Filipino karaoke, because it wouldn’t be a party in the Philippines without it!

DAY 11

Flights Out of Manila (optional activities within Manila all day long for those with later flights)


Learning Session Speakers, L . to R:
Mark and Rochelle Martin
are co-founders of Precious Trading Co, a social enterprise that helps farmers in the Philippines move their products while making healthy produce and local superfoods affordable and available for Filipinos. As advocates of sustainable and innovative agriculture, Mark and Rochelle use the platform they’ve built through Precious Trading Co to promote conscious living.

Kylie Misa
WVN Home

Anya Lim is the Princess Ant/ Co Founder and Managing Director of ANTHILL (Alternative Nest and Training/Trading Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood Seekers) Fabric Gallery, a social and cultural enterprise that works on preserving and promoting traditional Filipino weaves and providing sustainable livelihood for community weaving enterprises. She finished her Masters in Communication for Social Change at the University of Queensland, Australia. Anya is genuinely passionate about weaving business skills and traditional skills through community entrepreneurship.

Hannah Theisen
Founder, A Beautiful Refuge

Therese (Reese) Clarence Fernandez-Ruiz is the president and founding partner of Rags2Riches Inc., an eco-ethical lifestyle brand based in the Philippines that creates urban artisanal home and fashion masterpieces. Reese and the Rags2Riches team have trained 800 Filipino community-based artisans. Because of her work in Rags2Riches, which is now considered one of the most successful and pioneering social enterprises in the Philippines and in Asia, Reese has been recognized as one of five Rolex Young Laureates for 2010, the youngest recipient in history of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service for 2010, Young Entrepreneur Awardee of the World Entrepreneurship Forum 2011 and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum 2012.


Meals will be zero-waste and vegetarian (with a vegan option available for each meal). Traditional Filipino foods will be added to the menu, for an authentic taste of the Islands! Food allergies and special dietary requirements can be accommodated.




If there’s one thing Life+Style+Justice believes in, it’s TRANSPARENCY. We want you to know where every penny of the money that you spend on this trip is going! Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Food (Vegetarian/Vegan, local, organic whenever possible. We’ll also be paying for the meals of workers that we visit/share meals with as a group):
Transportation within the country (this covers vehicle rentals, airline tickets, travel insurance, gas, and toll fees)
Workshop + Speaker fees (to be paid directly to social enterprises)
Excursion fees (This includes all environmental fees, fair payment for boat operators, entrance fees, etc)
Materials and Supplies
$80.00 Materials and take-home items
Payment for Local Guides/Translator/Driver/Photographer
Profit that will be put toward TELAstory’s Factory Project: 

Questions? Just ask! here

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