One of the things I really enjoy when traveling to different countries is meeting various kind of artists or visiting art galleries. I will especially search for the possibility of going to a classical piano recital!
One year ago, I was in Hong Kong for the Natural Product Show and was overjoyed to watch some final year students’ performance of piano at the Hong Kong Conservatory of Music. It was an evening that moved me to tears. Here were young people who were able to master the technical skills and emotional levels of composers who lived hundreds of years ago!
When I travel in Europe I like to visit museums which is to me the same as doing meditation… it gives me peace of mind. I feel of hope in life and new energy in life as well. Artists are the spice of life. Most understand the higher levels in spiritual ways. They represent what is deep inside us. Many though don’t understand the value presented by artists and would rather watch football than experience the artistic expression of what painters, musicians and writers can teach us in their Art.
In Myanmar last week, I had the true opportunity to meet of a great contemporary artist. His name is Ko Kuang Piang and his gallery bursts with beautiful paintings in different styles. Different colors. Different moods… happiness, sadness and the colours of beauty. Whether in China, England or in the U.S. … “an artist is an artist and always will remain an artist”. They speak their own language and are sometimes connected to a world that we do not always understand and for that they are true artists.
It is the same here in Myanmar and Kuang Piang creates beautiful works. I had the great opportunity of buying a few paintings and was pleased to hear that the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar recently bought 8 paintings from him as well. Hmmm… good to know because not many Americans visit museums!
Kuang Piang is much involved of course in what happens in Myanmar -as all people are in Myanmar. Not everyone can express their feelings in the same way. Different people have different expressions and different tastes. So they express themselves differently about situations in life. Art could even be the act of drinking a cup of tea. Everything we do with attention or care seems also a form of meditation as well. Whether we paint, play the piano or listen to music.
Well, is art not all about beauty?
Our natural organic herbal cosmetics are a piece of art too – at least this is the way how all of us here at Paul Penders look at it! Whether it is more passion than art, that is a debatable point. Whatever it is, I was strongly advised to keep an eye on the progress of Ko Kuang Piang. He will soon have a grand art exhibition where many foreigners are invited. I am sure he is going to make it outside Myanmar as well.
Paul Penders Company will certainly support him in any way we can.
As I rounded up my stay in Myanmar, we had a great dinner on my final night with Myanmar’s entrepreneurial women! They were certainly captains of the Myanmar industry!
A few days ago, it was “Women’s Day” in Myanmar… and I was thinking if the rest of the world has been sleeping? For example will ‘progressive’ America have something like a Women’s Day soon?
I enjoyed talking with these brilliant women and confirmed what I noticed on my first day in Myanmar. Here women rule families and make important decisions.
It is the same in Finland. I have been to Finland, and seen how women there are leaders in their fields and certainly independent. They take responsibility and do not depend on men in their professional and social lives.
A few weeks ago, I was in Kerala state in India with some 375 independent women of VanaMoolika who had set up themselves an association producing certified organic Ayurveda wellness products that certainly stole my heart.
For them, no men involved! No religion. And no political discussions. These were poor women who are now able to educate their children and proudly own a GMP factory for Ayurveda medicines. For that I was intrigued to meet and speak to the Myanmar business women and, at the same time, they were very interested in the Paul Penders natural organic cosmetics as well.
Moe is the CEO of a very active and successful trading company importing container-loads of various goods into Myanmar. She also owns shops including duty free shops at the Yangon International Airport and knows a lot about international cosmetics.
Dr. Thin Naing Oo is a Medical Doctor and Business Manager of Sanofi Aventis medical products. She also owns her own cosmetics shop on the side which carries a few international cosmetic brands.
Marlar is the owner of a medical cosmetics manufacturing company under the brand “Triyatana”, a strong family company that has been operating since 1905 and covers the entire country with her products.
Tin Tin Hlaing is CEO and owner of High Tech Princess Security Systems and involved in a wide array of security and security related products.
Thinzar Pa Pa Aung manages Eye Corp Advertising, the company owned by my friend, Mike Lee. Thinzar has a degree in business accounting and international working experience before coming to work for Eye Corp.
I am so impressed with this country of which we know only so little. We know there are lots of poor people and many rich people. The successful people I met were much interested as well in fresh opportunities to make Myanmar a happy country and be part of a successful international community.
As I travel to Myanmar in the South of Asia, I witness another amazing experience here in Asia. This is a country with peaceful people. A country that keeps its heritage and has lots to gain in the future. One thing that touched me immediately is the simple attitude of their people… yes… simple but full of pride at the same time!
Women especially seem to know what they want in life! Many women in this country are in business for themselves and from what I have seen, most of them get to the highest positions as well. There is no stereotype of “the typical Asian woman”, well…at least not here in Myanmar because Myanmarese women rule family and business alike.
I look at this beautiful country as an unpolished gem, yes… lots of poverty but there is also much happiness, many smiles, much understanding about what is here and there is hope. I can’t help but feel it.
I was invited to Myanmar because I had requests for Paul Penders products to be made available here in Myanmar and yes, that will be possible. I was looking at several cosmetic counters; there are not many international cosmetic brands available here.
I have seen a few department stores that carry Shisheido products – it seems this Japanese brand has the biggest market share in luxury cosmetics market in Myanmar, but Shiseido is very expensive. Their skincare products are priced at around US$100 or more.
I did not see natural organic cosmetics like the ones we produce. I wondered why, because people in Myanmar love anything natural! They prepare food with fresh herbs and all other kind of fresh natural ingredients. The country is as green as nature ever can be. And I noticed immediately a very interesting element of pure natural beauty. Something I have never seen before in Asia nor anywhere in the world!
Thanaka: A Burmese Beauty Secret
Women make their own natural skincare preparations at home. One in particular is a national favorite. They believe it is the best natural beauty ingredient available and is used for generations over generation and I believe it works too because women in Myanmar have unbelievably smooth and clear skin.
They use a traditional cosmetic known as Thanaka for daily moisturizing and skin conditioning. Thanaka is made from the branches of the sandalwood tree (linoria acidissimia). When ground, the bark of the Thanaka tree acts as an astringent, sunscreen and antiseptic.
It is a common sight on the streets of most towns and cities to see people with swipes of powdery yellow paint on their cheeks, noses or arms.
The yellow comes from the juice of the ground bark. The pale dusty powder can range from palest primrose to deep ochre. Children and babies seem to be daubed in it, sometimes with circles painted on their cheeks and stripes along their noses! Even in the cinema posters the local movie stars are portrayed wearing their beloved Thanaka!
Other Amazing Things To See
Just for one day I became a tourist as well.
I did not leave Myanmar without seeing the amazing Shwedagon Pagoda, a Buddhist temple that is part of the 7 Wonders of the World. It is 2,500 years old and 164 feet high.
Although I came here for business, I also became a little bit of a tourist as well. Not many tourists have seen what I did in just a few days and in talking with the people of this great country.
I will be back very soon and can’t wait to see the development and growth of Paul Penders Natural Organic Cosmetic here in Myanmar, The Golden Land!
We all have different connections with people, one more close than the other. Some of my closed friends passed away 2 years ago but I think often about her. Doctor Herma Eeftink Ruiter who grew up in The Netherlands in a family of 14 children.
Her father, a well-known pharmacist in the heart of Amsterdam, worked hard to provide for his kids but like many men of his generation, believed that education was wasted on women.
Undeterred by his lack of support, Herma left for Canada at the young age of 15 to attend the University of Montreal, attracted by the world famous Montreal Botanical Gardens. To fulfill her dream of becoming a veterinarian, Herma worked as a dishwasher to pay her university fees. She put herself through school that way for the next 5 years.
However, Herma’s interests quickly turned to homeopathy and iryscopy when she saw that her four-legged patients responded better to natural medicines than “modern” preparations, which mostly contained chemical-based ingredients.
Pursuing her own way of healing in a medical empire full of the newly introduced antibiotics, Herma studied in Australia under Dr. Its Hovenga, not realizing that her growing success was actually brewing trouble. When she returned to Holland to set up her practice in natural medicine, Herma found that the small-town doctors were threatened by her new-founded beliefs and she was ostracized by the medical community.
Never giving up, Herma eventually earned high respect from people both inside and outside Holland, including the Royal Family, by demonstrating that homeopathic medicines not only work, but also generally have no ill side effects.
I am very proud and thankful that Herma taught me herbal knowledge and all-natural
skincare preparations as no other person could. Every day I think of her as an inspiration as
she has helped me to lead our company to where it is today.
Today I interviewed Mr. P.J. Chackosan, President of Vanamoolika (which means medicinal plants). He is also the Director of the Indian Organic Farmers Producer Company, the Executive Secretary of The Organic Farmer’s Fair Trade Network, as well as the Director of The Organic Foundation (FOARD).
Talk about experience in the matter of certified organic ingredients! It seems this man, who has hand-on experience, has successfully led the Vanamoolika organization in promoting the use of the ancient Ayurveda through a network of certified organic growers. An organization consisting of only women!
In another story we will meet these women. Most of the women are from small farming families or tribal women, “The daughters of the woods” as they call themselves. They started with nothing and are now making a living that enables them to have their children educated in rural areas of the country where poverty is widespread.
Having been with Mr. Chackosan for several days, I have gained a lot of respect for him. I also wanted to know more about him, besides his work implementing the vision of Father Joseph Chittoor; the priest who started the fascinating organization of Vanamoolika following his personal belief that women are especially powerful when given the tools to develop themselves as well as their families and communities.
Prior to meeting Father Joseph Chittoor, Mr. Chackosan was a pharmacist with a Bachelor of Science and totally involved with allopathic medicines. That all changed almost overnight when he “converted” from allopathic medicines to natural medicines after discussions with Father Joseph Chittoor.
He was then convinced of the ability to help poor people better their lives as well as enjoy good health at affordable prices. In the area of Kerela, before Vanamoolika was founded, there were no natural concepts developed and treatment charges for allopathic were not affordable to the poor. Father Chittoor led the way and introduced Ayurveda from the ground off, which means: “producing the ancient ayurvedic medicines according to ancient formulations.”
However, Ayurveda like many things in this modern life is being misused because of overstated marketing and selling claims. Ayurveda has become expensive in many parts of India as well as all over the world. Many are using it for their own financial benefits and charging exorbitant sums of money for treatments and preparations that are combined incorrectly and they do not produce the results that should be.
Ayurveda has become very popular but following this particular avenue was never the vision of Father Chittoor.
His philosophy goes back to the roots of Ayurveda, and to making home remedies according to strictly Ayurveda rules as a superior healing system based on science. A healing system affordable for everyone.
What about the future of Vanamoolika in these regards? Mr. Chackosan tells me he wants to rejuvenate the system of Ayurveda as much as possible. Rectifying the system of the Ayurvedia Pharmacopia, in accordance to the ancient book written 5,000 years ago. This includes the original diagnosing techniques, healing methods and product formulations according to the ancient vision of the MAHARSHIS; the saints who were religious teachers. They were talented groups of gurus – ARYUVEDA ACHARYA – who did their writings over different centuries. Their ‘thoughts’ became ayurvedic medications over the centuries as the patients came to them. The ACHARAY prayed to God and medications were then given. According to Mr. Chackochan, this is how it all started. In those ancient times there was no writing. That came later.
Generation after generation, writings that came later developed into the Ayurveda Pharmacopedia, and it is still being worked on today.
Vanamoolika wants to do just that – treat people according to the original ayurvedic ways without the modern marketing hocus-pocus. To bring ayurvedic medicine to everyone because ayuvedic’s cost is in fact low compared to the allopathic medicine. The vision of father Joseph Chittoor and Vanamoolika is the vehicle to make it work. People who become farmers of the ingredients of ayurvedic medicines and all of the farmers that deliver some 700 herbs and plants and trees are all certified organic by Indocert.
My question to Mr. Chackosan is why is he working with women to get this all off the ground? According to him, women are genuinely more interested in family matters and are more dedicated to the family liberalization, which in India still is an issue in rural areas. Ayurvedic medicine, when applied to the ancient way can never be abused because of this system itself. Women are generally better organizers, better healers, talk more direct about family issues and act accordingly and thus achieve greater results.
As western women, you may ask – what is in this for me and my natural skincare regimen? We at Paul Penders are using LevensESSENTIE 22 certified organic herbs with purpose. A purpose similar to the ayurvedic principle.
We at Paul Penders are very proud to announce that we will be buying the same herbs now from the Vanamoolika organization which protects and conserves medicinal plants in “God’s Own Country” (which is the State of Kerela in India) .The same herbs cultivated by these small certified organic farmers where chemical fertilizers and pesticides are strictly not allowed to be used. Paul Penders feels proud to buy these herbs from an organization conducted by women. Women who are paid fair prices, as well as share in the proceeds of sales and profits of the organization.