Ep.3: on Living on Lockdown with Reese Fernandez-Ruiz and Dave Albao

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

This episode was produced by MUNI, hosted and written by Jen Horn and Ayen dela Torre, edited by, with music by Diego Mapa and branding by Serious Studio. You can find the MUNI on This Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or listen directly below.

About this episode

While we had another episode lined up for March 15, we didn't feel it was right to publish it then. And because of how distressing the COVID-19 crisis is for a lot of people, we really felt that another conversation was more important at this time.

To prevent the spread of the virus, our government decided to restrict the movement of its people. And it's not just in the Philippines, it's happening everywhere in the world. So apart from getting groceries, medicine, essential movements, we were to remain at home until April 14, subject to further review.

The social distancing required of us may lead to feelings of loneliness or despair. But really, these are the times we need to support each other even more. And through this episode, we hope to give virtual social connection and support to those who need it even as we practice social distancing.

We asked two leaders, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of the social enterprise Rags2Riches, and Dave Albao of the conservation NGO managing Danjugan Island: How are you and your employees coping with COVID-19? How can we better support each other through this?

About our guests

We chose Reese and Dave because they represent sectors, retail/SME and tourism, that are greatly affected by this crisis. Their organizations play an important role in our economy by creating jobs for the growing labor force. In the Philippines as of 2012 Senate report, micro, small and medium enterprises comprise 99% of the businesses in this country and provide over 3.5 million jobs. And according to Rappler, the Philippines stands to lose at least 42.9 billion in tourism revenues due to the threat of the corona virus.

Reese is the president of Rags to Riches (R2R), retail and manufacturing social enterprise established in 2007. And currently, R2R employs 18 full time workers and they work with about 100 home based partner suppliers to create their products. Dave is the executive director of PRRCFI, the NGO managing Danjugan Island, a marine protected area in Negros Occidental that also serves as an ecotourism site. And PRRCFI employs 20 full time and 20 part-time workers in their operations.

Show notes


  • [00:15] Jen and Ayen talk about how COVID-19 has put us in lockdown, why we decided to do this episode and how it's affecting us personally.

  • [2:51] Jen shares about the contribution of small businesses on our economy and job creation and how Reese's company contributes to this


  • [3:47] Reese shares how she feels about the crisis and the immediate effects of COVID-19 on their business, including work-from-home arrangements

  • [5:03] Reese talks about what it is that scares her the most about this situation

  • [7:06] Jen asks Reese how much "runway" they have to cope with the lockdown

  • [8:36] Reese on compassion and the importance of it especially in the hardest times

  • [10:02] R2R's artisans will be supported for this period, but the pressure on them to earn might be increased in families with members who are now without work

  • [11:48} Reese on some insights on how other businesses such as hers can support their employees in this crisis

  • [14:15] Reese responds to how she plans to deal and where she could use the most support right now

  • [16:04] Reese on her thoughts as a citizen and the "elitist gaps" amidst the COVID crisis


  • [19:42] Ayen shares the impacts on COVID on the tourism sector and introduces Dave

  • [20:23] Dave on being anxious for his people as someone in a leadership position

  • [21:00] Ayen asks Dave how they're supporting their employees in the midst of this crisis

  • [25:59] Dave on his fears that his peers in tourism have also been sharing or major blows they've been having to deal with because of this crisis (i.e. cancelled bookings + no future bookings)

  • [28:32] A hopeful story of Danjugan Islands resident guide, Ramram


  • [30:17] Ayen and Jen closing the episode with their takeaways, suggestions on how to help, plus a call for your stories

You can find ways to help out during the COVID-9 crisis here. You can also join the MUNI Community group on Facebook to reach out to our community.

About this podcast

We started MUNI on This to deal with our personal and collective distress about the state of our planet, but more importantly, we created this to give ourselves and you guys more reasons to hope and more motivation to act. In the show, we talk about the challenges and possibilities in creating a more mindful and livable world. It was created by MUNI, a purpose-driven company that creates conversations and builds community through online content and offline events on mindful, sustainable living. You can find the MUNI on This Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or listen directly via

People / organizations mentioned

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz


• Dave Albao

Danjugan Island

Other links / resources

2012 senate report on SMEs in the Philippines

As Corona Virus deepens inequality, inequality worsens its spread (NY Times)

Business Unusual: COVID-19 and the Call for Better (The Serious Review)

COVID impacts on small businesses by Tal de Guzman of Stride Collective (Facebook post)

Philippines seen to lose tourism revenues due to Corona Virus (Rappler)

The out of touch elitist gaps in our lockdown (Rappler)

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