I was born American and grew up in 7 cities. The question, “Where are you from?” was always difficult to answer simply. In November of 2013, however, clarity was bestowed upon me: I love the Philippines. While I have never really lived there, my parents were born there, and live there now. I have yet to intimately learn its ways, but I know now beyond a doubt, that the Philippines has a home in my heart. In 2013, in the wake of a terrible storm, I co-founded Paris for the Philippines with friends. My hope for PFTP is for it to be an international non-profit For-Purpose organization,dedicated to bringing aid and support to those affected by tragedy, and one that contributes to there building the nation into a viable country for all. I have worn many 'hats' prior to Paris for the Philippines. I grew up in Southeast Asia (with a few prolonged visits to the Philippines), and made my way to Paris via San Francisco and New York. While in the United States, I launched 2 eponymous labels and designed private label for Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman. In 2004, I moved to Paris and in 2006, I launched EVA&OLi, a children's label, inspired in part, by my son, Olivier. I sold E&O in 2011 to focus on my role as a mother and wife. 2013 saw my return to the 'work' scene, and my eyes were opened to a call, to be of service in all that I do. “My Paris Story – Living, Loving and Leaping without a Net in the City of Light” is an example of such. An anthology of 21 voices, which reflect “every woman’s story”: of passions, challenges, lessons and blessings to the backdrop of Paris. We hope to show our readers that ordinary women can make extraordinary contributions in their own lives and in the lives of others. We hope to inspire everyone to dare to dream, take a leap of faith and make those dreams come true. With PFTP and MPS, a dream comes full circle. A portion of the proceeds for the lifespan of "My Paris Story" is dedicated to rebuilding villages and the Philippine nation with Gawad Kalinga.
Victoria Aquino-Benoit is married to Paul Benoit and has been living in Paris for 21 years. Prior to her marriage, she has lived in Hongkong , New York , San Francisco and Paris as a Fashion Designer. She had factories in Hongkong and Manila and takes pride in being the first Filipina to export a high-end ladies collection to Paris that was sold in Galeries Lafayette (label- Babette Aquino). She did manufacturing for Giorgio Armani and Leonard of Paris for their summer collection. She worked as designer for Marcestel, a french painter who made material out of his paintings, and the collection was sold in Tokyo to Takashimaya. After getting married and living in Paris, she became a buyer for boutiques in Tokyo, Hongkong and Manila.
Though as the true philanthropist and driving force of PFTP, she holds greater importance in helping out the Filipinos in need, back home and in her adoptive city. She is proud to have lent a helping hand in setting up a transportation service of a Filipino, also known as the favorite tour guide of many guests visiting Paris. She is Team PFTP's voice of reason and guiding light.
Francesca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Engineering from Ateneo de Manila University and a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from HEC Paris. She began her career as a financial analyst in Avon Cosmetics, an American cosmetics company specialized in direct selling. After finishing her master's degree, she later joined Natixis Asset Management as an socially responsible investment (SRI) analyst in 2012. Francesca is currently the analyst for the retail & apparel and telecommunications industries in the Sustainable Investment Research department of Mirova, the Responsible Investment division of Natixis Asset Management. She joined PFTP to keep close ties with her home country, the Philippies, and to give back to the country that formed her to who she is today.
Bianca Monzon-Cueva originally holds a degree of Bachelor of Arts, Major in Economics from the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Having moved across San Francisco, New York and Paris since leaving Manila in 2000, her solid Filipino roots and strong love for the motherland are what compels her to raise aid and awareness for the country through Paris for the Philippines.
Bianca first moved to Paris in 2008 and graduated with honors from the MBA in International Luxury Brand Management program at ESSEC France. She holds 9 years combined Production, Product Development and Product Management experience in Apparel and Accessories working in the headquarters of brands including Ralph Lauren, Gap Inc., Coach Inc. and Chloé. She also worked on brand communications under the CEO of Lancel from the Richemont Group, and mentored under the Executive Retail Director of Lanvin during her MBA studies.
Having taken time off from her previous career to focus on family life, she currently volunteers as the External Events Manager for the Public Relations team of Message (www.messageparis.org), the 2000+member non-profit organization of Anglo parents in Paris, and contributes her remaining time as Communications Director of Paris for the Philippines.
meet the team
These Filipinos met altogether for the first time in November 2013, a few days after typhoon Haiyan had devastated parts of the Philippines. They expressed grief for the tragedy and and shared a vision to remedy the problem with an act of love. Today, they are one family, expressing their passion for Filipino culture and heritage, while devoted to raise funds for their brothers and sisters back home.
Here is a glimpse of their lives.
Zharah Fichard studied Fashion Design and Marketing, and Graphic Design. She started working in product design, advertising and publishing in Asia, The Middle East and Europe. Working for brands like Sony, Nokia and Emirates Airlines to name a few. She later decided to go back to what she really loved and returned to the Fashion Industry years later. Zharah moved to Paris in 2009 as a Visual Merchandiser for Polo Ralph Lauren. More importantly, she is a mother of 2, a wife, and finds time to help and support the cause of Paris for the Philippines. She is currently a Visual Merchandiser for Prada, France.
Anne Matoto-Sznaper is an Ateneo de Manila University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Communication). She was part of the team that first launched a top international music television channel, MTV(Music Television), in the Philippines where she managed the marketing and events department for six years. Her work exposure extended all over the Philippines, in Singapore, Bali and Los Angeles. She left her career to join her fiancé in Paris and worked in the Philippine Delegation to UNESCO headquarters. She has just returned from a 2-year stay in China , where she was active in a women’s expat charity group, writing for their website. Now back in Paris, she is a full-time mother, dedicated to love her family first and to help the afflicted Filipinos via PFTP .
Chef Aaron Isip
Graduated from De La Salle University Manila with a degree in Marketing Management, Aaron Isip decided to follow his real passion and move to France to pursue a career in the Culinary Arts. He went to renowned culinary school Le Cordon Bleu Paris to finish a Diplome de Cuisine program. He was fortunate enough to have landed a six-month internship at 2 Michelin star restaurant Apicius (Jean-Pierre Vigato), followed by another internship at Les Elysées** Hotel Vernet (Eric Briffard - now executive chef at le V Four Seasons Hotel George V). After 9 years and stints that include Restaurant Drouant (Antoine Westermann***), Senderens** (Formerly Lucas Carton by Alain Senderens), Ze Kitchen Galerie* (William Ledeuil), and Pan (as Chef de Cuisine), Aaron is now Chef de Cuisine at recently opened Restaurant Dix-Huit in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. His cuisine style is seasonal, colorful, product-driven French 'bistronomie' tinged with subtle Southeast Asian/Filipino flavors. His love for his country and its culinary heritage is what makes him incorporate these flavors to his cuisine, and is the driving force that made him work with PFTP.
Born in Manila, Florencio studied classical piano at the University of Santo Tomas with Marina Escano and Fr. Manuel Maramba during his high school years. 1n 1987, he moved to the United States where he graduated from of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Peggy Salkind with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance. His years after the Conservatory were spent playing internationally for singers of all genres, but concentrated a great deal of time in musical theatre. He played critically acclaimed performances of “The Fantasticks” “Songs For A New World” “Putting it Together: A Sondheim Review” for the prestigious San Francisco Playhouse, as well as writing incidental music for “Hit It! the musical” and “Splittin’ the Raft” at the Marin Theatre Company. In 1997 he co-founded the San Francisco Academy for the Performing Arts. In 2008 he moves to Paris and co-founded the American Musical Theatre Live! Paris and recently premiered off-Broadway works like “Edges: A Song Cycle”, “The Last Five Years” and “Songs for a New World”. He continues to play in the U.S., South America, Asia and Europe on a regular basis with Filipina-American musical theater star Stephanie Reese. In 2009, the duo performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and raised money for Gawad Kalinga-US, and in 2013 raised over 330,000 euros for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan through their gala performances in Germany and Austria. Both he and Reese are UNICEF Germany artists. John has worked with top musical artists such as Connie Francis, Sam Harris, Martin Nievera, Louie Reyes, Ray-An Fuentes among many. He is currently working on a new musical with renowned director Bobby Garcia of Atlantis Productions, Inc.