Albeit a cliché, Melecio Donato Oamil and Rosemarie Almayda-Oamil from the Philippines are shining examples of a husband-and-wife who has withstood the test of time by sticking it out together through the thick-and-thin — and come up with creative solutions.
Such a creative solution happened in the late 1990s.
Melecio—a graduate of Industrial Education Major in Electricity (the fluorescent and incandescent lights, the “people inside the portable radio and the TV set, among others mesmerised him since childhood) at the Central Luzon State University in agricultural Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija—was then teaching trade and particularly the “electrical aspects in wiring diagrams and technical drawing at the Meralco Foundation in Pasig City, Metro Manila.
Rosemarie was an employee too, pursuing her Masters in Business Administration at the prestigious De La Salle University in Manila. She was also heavy with her first pregnancy and lo, a few days after delivery, their daughter, Hannah, was found to need open heart surgery.
She talked to her professor: “I told him I could not see myself in a career any longer though I wanted to travel around the world. On the onset I needed huge amount of money for (Hannah’s condition.)”
Her professor’s response: “Maybe you could start a business; fashion accessories because you do not need big capital.” Why not?
With Melecio’s background and expertise in the trade—since childhood he did not see himself following the footsteps of the farming community around him— they took the plunge—of going into business as they also had by then the experience of setting up small cart shops in baratillos (flea market-type) selling woodcrafts and other novelty items from Paete, Laguna.
Melecio and Rosemarie had the opportunity to meet Lorenzo Sarmiento, among the men behind then President Fidel V. Ramos.
“He mentored us,” related Melecio.
That mentoring took them to all the fashion/furniture/furnishings design centres in the Philippines, not to forget the premier Centre for International Trade and Expositions of Manila’s Department of Trade and Industry.
They joined trips to the fashion capitals of the world namely Paris (“fashion innovation is always two years in advance in this city”), New York and Hong Kong.
Nineteen years hence since 1999—after going through some non-acceptance even in the Philippines—and having become the couple behind the creativity and production of unbranded eco-friendly bags and fashion accessories for the international market—some with well-established fashion houses— Melecio and Rosemarie are now reaping what they had sown.
Husband-and-wife has slowly but surely made a name through their 100 per cent carefully-handmade Melle & Marie brand determinedly set up in 2012.
It was a consequence of the world financial debacle earlier on.
It was an eventuality of them having gone through the experience of having been condescended upon because they are Filipinos from a Third World country who could not come up with world-class goods and products.
Deep inside, Melecio who had become a registered overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Italy, thought: “We are all children of God. God created us all so we also have opportunities.”
Husband-and-wife is now among the many Filipino exporters from Cebu with their own factory and their own production people composed of metal-smiths and other artisans.
Melecio said: “The eco-friendly trend has been there since 1999. People have become so conscious of (the brutality against animals).”
“Personally, for us, the best is to go for the waste of all kinds of seashells and the mother-of-pearl. We use used chicken wire when we sample our bags.”
The tradesman-turned-fashion designer/production line boss said it takes three days to finish a metal bag of 24-carat gold-plated/rose gold-plated/silver-plated brass material.
All fashion accessories are in 24-carat gold-plated/rose goldplated/silver-plated brass and metal.
Restrospective-ly, Melecio and Rosemarie are grateful to God who had sent them one “destitute man” at a Hong Kong trade fair.
Rosemarie shared: “Melle was in Italy at that time trying to work his life as an OFW. I was at this trade show and came a penniless man whom everyone ignored. I entertained him and I became nervous when he called someone on his mobile phone and came two well-dressed men. Then came another two and I thought they were going to copy our products or they would con me.”
Lo to her big shock, this “destitute man” was a wealthy Korean American from New York. The four guys were his staff.
The initial order was worth $70,000. “He gave us the chance,” said Rosemarie from the recent Index Trade Fair at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
From Dubai, which they considered “promising and a big opportunity” for two consecutive years now, husband-and-wife was preparing for their next international trade show in Paris.
MELLE & MARIE, A BRAND SET UP BY A COUPLE IN 2012, CREATES ECO-FRIENDLY BAGS AND FASHION ACCESSORIES . MARIECAR JARA-PUYOD MET THEM AT THE INDEX TRADE FAIR HELD IN DUBAI WORLD TRADE CENTRE
Melecio Donato Oamil and Rosemarie Almayda-Oamil