The life of Beauché’s and Dasmariñas resident, Ms. Che, is one big TV drama.
Before finally climbing into the lap of luxury, Conchita “Che” Toribio-Delos Reyes—founder, president and CEO of Beauché International, maker of internationally acclaimed beauty soaps and other cosmetic products—endured scores of hardships and “purification” in order to be deserving of God’s blessings on her.
And when at last, life finally smiled on her, Ms. Che made it her mission to share her story with everyone: “to give hope to the hopeless, courage to the discouraged, strength to those who are weak.”
“I am not ashamed to tell people my life story,” she says, “because I know that my life is meant to inspire people.”
GROWING UP the eldest of seven children, Ms. Che belonged to the poor branch of the very rich and prominent Toribio clan in Bohol. “My father was a letter courier in the local post office, while my mother was a labandera (washerwoman) until I was 15,” she relates. Whenever the rich Toribios held clan reunions, their family never got invited.
Her father died early, leaving them with just a small house on a big plot of land that the rich Toribios owned. Then one day, a rich aunt visited them, demanding that they vacate the property. Her mother refused, of course, but to no avail. Amidst their cries and implorations, a bulldozer arrived and demolished their house—“and you think these things happened only in the movies,”says Ms. Che. The family was forced to move into a barong-barong (makeshift house) where a corner of the earth permitted it.
Ms. Che went to Manila to study college in the late 1970s. But she stopped just after her first year due to lack of financial support. She got married early, but 15 years later, her husband left, leaving her with five children to raiseon her own. “During my most difficult times, I was left with just two sources of support in life: my beloved mother who stood by me, and of course, God.”
Little by little
With no college diploma to brag about, Ms. Che engaged in odds and ends to put food on the table. She sold fruits, vegetables and, during Christmas, meat products at Zapote Market. Along EDSA, in front of the NCSO building in Quezon City, she sold hardboiled eggs and bottled water to passersby. She braved heat and rain, and—from time to time—the police who rounded up street vendors like her.
With all her hardships, it is not surprising that she found inspiration in TV soaps. From one such soap (“Jewel in the Palace”), she got her “theme song”—“Pangarap na Bituin” (roughly, “Star of My Dreams”)—her “national anthem…a song that my heart will sing for as long as I have life.”
Unti-unting mararating, kalangitan at bituin;
unti-unting kinabukasan ko’y magniningning.
Hawak ngayon tibay ng damdamin;
Bukas naman sa aking paggising,
Kapiling ko’y pangarap na bituin….
(Words and music by Willy Cruz, 1984)
(“Little by little, I will reach the heavens and the stars;
little by little, my future will shine brighter.
For now, all I have is the strength of my resolve;
by tomorrow, however, when I wake up,
I will have with me the star of my dreams….”)
“Little by little”—these very words remind her to keep persevering and not lose patience in life.
Ms. Che eventually ventured into selling kaldero (cooking pots), which she ordered by truckloads and sold just as proficiently. She also sold insurance plans on the side, although at first, she did not know how—she had no proper training. “I just studied by myself, listening to how other insurance agents did it.”
Indeed, little by little, her hard work paid off. She became so good at selling insurance plans that, in six months’ time, she was able to buy a brand new car, and then two years later, she got to travel abroad.
To this day, Ms. Che says she will always be grateful for insurance companies. Not only did selling insurance plans sustain her family, it also helped her with the startup capital for Beauché International.
“I did not borrow money for my capital because the banks would not trust someone of my standing. Besides that, I also did not have any collateral.”
Through sheer determination, Ms. Che raised Php 40,000 culled from her insurance and kaldero earnings. For inspiration on which business to get into, she had an intimate conversation with God: “Lord, I cannot endure a poor life anymore. Please give me a business that would make me soo rich that I could no longer count my money….” Out of desperation and exhaustion, she thus worded her prayer.
It took her two years of studying before she could launch Beauché’s beauty soap. Neither a chemist nor a pharmacist, she developed her formula based on a generic formulation, and then relied on a toll manufacturer for the soap’s production. Her formula turned out to be so good and effective, those who tried the soap once became steady customers.
Introducing a new soap brand in the market, however, proved to be a great challenge. Hers was grassroots marketing: “I rode on tricycles and went from house to house, from one residential subdivision to the next, just to introduce Beauché to people.”
Armed with just an umbrella and bottled water to satiate her hunger while on the road, she endured much rejection. But she never gave up.
“Even if 1,000 people say no to me, still, there are 110 million Filipinos—it’s impossible that I wouldn’t get any customers out of that many people.”
Her extraordinary sense of discipline also served her well during this time. “Discipline, for me, is super malawak (encompassing). Discipline means, even if you’re already exhausted, you overcome your exhaustion and still go on; that even when everybody is against you, for as long as you have the purity of intentions…the genuineness of purpose, you just don’t care. Still, you endure.”
When eventually Beauché started to take off, Ms. Che realized she already got the answer to her prayer. “When my first manufacturing plant was opened, I really got on my knees. I was crying really hard and was kissing the ground. ‘Thank You, Lord….’ I kept saying.”
Ms. Che says the hardships of those early days were one of the reasons why she makes sure to “keep my cool and humility,” which is “very important.” She explains: “That’s one key to sustainability: if you want to sustain whatever blessings you are enjoying in life, you should be humble.”
Destined and chosen to be Beauché
The name Beauché is from “beautiful Che”—another inspiration from her conversations with God. But just when Beauché was beginning to rise, another set of challenges beset Ms. Che yet again.
“My first-generation distributors turned their backs on me. When they saw that there’s big money in cosmetic soaps, without me knowing it, they conspired against me and started building their own company.”
The “renegades” sourced their raw materials from Ms. Che’s suppliers. They also recruited her soap maker, stole her clients, and even tried to damage her company’s reputation with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). What’s worse was that two of them are Ms. Che’s siblings.
Ms. Che was severely upset by all this. But then it was nothing new to her—this wasn’t the first time it happened. Nonetheless, no matter how grave the situation was, Ms. Che remained on top of her emotions. She was thinking that if she gave her anger free rein and sued them in court, she would have to spend every day dealing with them, allowing them to disrupt her momentum and her determination to succeed. And so, she just prayed to God: “Lord, take away the pain, the hurt, the anger. Make me forget them. Make me move on. Please give me a new start.”
True enough, Ms. Che continued on her path to success—her faith in God’s providence undaunted. Not only was she able to endure, she was also able to obey God’s commands and keep her peace. Along with these, blessings continued to pour in her life. Even her relationship with her siblings was restored. And when Beauché International began to truly soar, she began to have a deeper realization of “what God wants me to do.”
For Ms. Che, there are those who are simply “destined to be rich,” and there are also those who are “destined and chosen.”
“When you are ‘destined and chosen,’ you will have to go through a purification process so overwhelming that the pain is almost unbearable,” she explains. “When I fully understood this, I told God, ‘Please don’t let any of my siblings go through this much pain. I’ll gladly provide for their needs, just don’t let them go through this.”
Channeling God’s blessings
With her finances immensely improved, one of the first things Ms. Che did was to be generous with her blessings. She did some shopping, of course: from local malls to Hong Kong, to Europe and the US—just so she could experience how it feels like to splurge with so much money. But she doesn’t hoard the many luxurious items she has bought in her shopping sprees: “After two to three months sitting in my room, I give them away, because I also want others to experience what I have experienced owning them.”
Deep down, she says, she has always wanted to emulate Mother Teresa’s generosity. And so she founded the Beauché Foundation. Through it, they have a daily feeding program for the poor in Dasmariñas. Also, each year, they hold a Christmas party for street children—“I love doing this.”
“I have been praying that Beauché Foundation continue to grow and provide for the less fortunate and the abandoned…even those who are in jail due to petty crimes—they are helpless.”
Because of her newfound sense of mission with Beauché, she became the first lady mayor of her hometown in Bohol in 2010, having won by a landslide. “I joined politics because I wanted change. In our hometown, you have people as young as Grade 6 students doing drugs. I thought I should fight it…”
Her brief stint in politics made her somehow see why drug dependents, thieves and other petty criminals abound in society. Among other reasons she found, there are mainly the leadership and family influences, and of course, poverty. “There are just so many factors, and so I take care not to be judgmental towards them. I really pity them.”
She gave her entire salary as mayor to provide legal support for such inmates who could not afford to hire lawyers. “At the end of my term—because I only had three years to one term—I was able to free seven inmates.”
Because of this, among her other exemplary accomplishments, Ms. Che became a recipient of the Gawad Amerika award in 2015. This was in Hollywood, California, USA.
Yet even now that she is no longer in politics (“because life in politics is just not for me”), Ms. Che continues her crusade to alleviate the suffering of those who are in jail. “I really spend much money just so I could make them smile. I tell my people to regularly make their rounds of all 12 prisons in Cavite. That’s 4,000-plus inmates in the entire province.”
Beauché is now on its 11th year, and counting. From grassroots selling, Beauché products are now sold in almost 200 company-owned and over 300 distributor-owned branches nationwide. “All I do nowadays is just make my rounds of these branches.” A local brand gone international, “even while I sleep, my soap bars are making money for me in the US, Japan, and so on.”
For its international success, Ms. Che has the flight stewardesses of Philippine Airlines to thank for. “They tell me I was a heaven-sent to them. I tell them, ‘You, too, are a heaven-sent to Beauché,’ because it was they who made Beauché well known abroad.”
Even now that Beauché International is a tremendous success, Ms. Che is still not without challenges in life to deal with. But then, she has long accepted that life does not guarantee success or happiness. “I tell my children, ‘No matter how much wealth I leave you, there is no guarantee. God alone is the guarantee.’”
Which means? “Do His passion—keep working hard. Stop complaining. Have the conviction to help the helpless. Look beyond your own needs.” And: “Have a grateful heart…have integrity…have faith…[and] keep praying.” These are just some of the many valuable lessons that Ms. Che can impart to listeners of her success story.
But since her life has parallels with many of her beloved TV soap dramas, it is only fitting that this feature ends on a happy and inspiring note.
Returning home to Bohol wealthy and successful, Ms. Che was able to buy the properties that were formerly owned by her rich Toribio kin. “I don’t know what had happened to them. They just sold all of their properties to me.”
On the lot where their little house once stood (and got bulldozed), she built a convenience store. As for some of the other properties, she turned to real estate.
“When I was mayor, they visited me at my office. I welcomed them fully. I did not even think anymore of what they did to my family. When I checked my heart, I felt neither hatred nor resentments towards them. And I said, ‘Lord, thank you…for making it happen.’”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how beautiful Che and Beauché reached for the stars.