Ma. Aleli V. Pansacola: Earth Mother Revives Herb Industry with Daila Herbal Soap
SHE REMINDED ME of a movie character in a 1920s film. She was sweet in her speech, resplendent in gesture. She was firm but precise in her statements because she conveys the good news of positive living. The tone, perhaps, is a result of wonders that are closely associated with her forgiving ways. That afternoon, Ma. Aleli Pansacola strode past a hulk of produce that was scheduled for delivery. The cramped production room of Daila Herbal Soap oozed with activity and nowhere could you find a seat to settle yourself in, Pansacola hardly paused to check on people coming in and out. She manages to say a "hi," but more often than not, her conversations are limited to service and her close association with Mother Nature.
Truth is, Pansacola has found peace in community service. She initiated the creation of herbal gardens and bought its byproducts for a line of soap she made in 1987 called Daila Herbal Soap the pioneer natural herbal product manufactured in the Philippines. She helped women earn on the side because she wanted them to be self-sustaining. Moreover, her contacts with them improved her research on herbs and oils that were to be a part of community service.
"The benefits we could extract from herbs and oils are various and plenty, but how to start one is a major undertaking that requires time and thinking," Pansacola said.
Eighty percent of the country's essential oils were shipped out to big multinational cosmetic companies. The conviction to encourage farmers to grow herbs in their backyard was so formidable that Pansacola traveled to provinces to lecture on herbs and essential oils and plotted how much could be earned from it. "I also learned about the curative powers of herbs and found out that there were certain illnesses that could only be cured by it," Pansacola said.
Among her findings were: Aloe Vera as the main ingredient in shampoo; a dab of patchouli (kabling) oil before putting on perfume retains its fragrance; mint oil as used in chewing gums; and citronella in Daila Herbal. This was also the time when she established relations with Junie Kalaw and members of the Philippine International Alternative Futures (PIAF). She claimed it was with PIAF that her convictions were strengthened. More than finding herself, the group helped her explore the dynamics of promoting values, how to impart positive thinking, and to preserve the environment with their natural herbal products.
*Published in a local newspaper called Opinion: Manila Standard