Vanessa Caro on life, advocacies and women empowerment

Vanessa Ann Ka'ihilani Caro wears a necklace from the Amparo Heirloom Collection
of Sarabia Jewelry

“Being a pageant title holder is not just being an eminent person during events, it does not just revolve around glitz and glamour, but it revolves around the duties one has to fulfill,” Miss Iloilo Dinagyang 2016 Vanessa Ann Caro said.

So, after she was crowned as Miss Iloilo Dinagyang 2016, Vanessa poured her heart and soul to numerous outreach projects that benefitted some sectors in Iloilo City. One of them is the outreach activity for children who were confined at the Western Visayas Medical Center due to heart disease. Together with Bantay Bata, Vanessa provided gift packs that included a few necessities like alcohol, cotton, tissue, Milo, etc.

Vanessa poses for the promotional poster of her Tahiti Fitness Dance Workshop called “FitTahiti by Vanessa.”
“I had the chance to meet 19 children that were each diagnosed with a specific cardiovascular condition that would only be curable by surgery. Their ages ranged from one year old to 17 years old and I did not sense one phase of fear. From my perspective, they were very brave and courageous considering they knew their surgeries were the next day,” she revealed.

“It was quite touching to meet the parents and hear their stories as they travelled from all over Panay to accompany their children with gracious hearts for their scheduled surgery. It was a wonderful experience because I felt the support and was accompanied by the MID committee headed by the Executive Director, Sir Alex G. Soncio,” she further revealed.
Her collaboration with Bantay Bata did not stop there. She organized a Tahiti Fitness Dance Workshop called “FitTahiti by Vanessa.”

Vanessa with her mom Patricia Ka'ihilani Caro
“It was a Tahitian Fitness Dance Workshop, which is a fusion of the authentic Tahitian dance and contemporary modern dance resulting to a high cardio and aerobic workout. There were two classes for all ages from 5 years old and above. The proceeds were directed to Bantay Bata 163 which was implemented on November 21, 2016 and Persons With Disabilities which is to be implemented on a later date,” she shared.
Women Empowerment
Vanessa is also an advocate of women empowerment. Her beauty and gentle strength captured the attention of heritage jewelry brand Sarabia Jewelry who invited her to become their brand ambassadress.
“To be the new face of the brand while carrying the title of MID, is an honor and a privilege to be able to use the opportunity to show women that there are no limits in achieving what we set our minds to. There is a mutual feeling between Sarabia Jewelry and I to depend on one another to uplift the image of what a true Ilongga truly represents and that's why women empowerment is so important to me,” Vanessa said.

Women empowerment: Three generations of jewelers - Amparo Sarabia, Gina Sarabia-Espinosa and Regina Espinosa

“Women empowerment is not an unfamiliar term to many of us women here in Iloilo City. Since 1945, Sarabia Jewelry has been creating timeless Jewelry and has been run by powerful women ever since,” Vanessa shared.
Sarabia Jewelry was started by Amparo Sarabia and is now being managed by her daughter Gina Sarabia-Espinosa who studied at the Gemological Institute of America and is now a certified gemologist.
Gina’s daughter - Regina - is the third generation trailblazer for Sarabia Jewelry. She studied to become a metalsmith at The Alchemia School of Contemporary Jewelry in Florence, Italy. She also designs unique and handcrafted products that are linked to the culture and history of Iloilo.

Amparo Heirloom Collection of Sarabia Jewelry
Vanessa’s favorite among Regina’s designs is a necklace from the Amparo Heirloom Collection, an artisan set of earrings, medallions, cameos and necklaces that are all handmade. The collection is not only a tribute to our heritage but to the empowered Ilongga.
Vanessa’s Advice to Other Women
A strong and independent woman, she is not afraid to fight for the things that she knows she can accomplish.

So, she tells other women: “We have one life, therefore we have to live it well. If you have a dream, strive to reach it, achieve it, and look even further past what you think you can do.  Be kind, humble, and stay grateful. You can accomplish all of this with strong faith and trust in the Lord.”
She also stressed that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. “I'd like to give the credit to my parents. As a young girl, I never focused on outer appearance because they always instilled in me that inner beauty conquered all,” she concluded./Kathy Villalon


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