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The Women are your hosts on our basecamps. They’re strong and skilled, shy sometimes, but never fail to make a remote island feel like home. Over the years we’ve trained these women who would otherwise be unemployed for roles ranging from part-time masseuses to top company management.

A Matriarchal Culture

Our ground operations are driven by a strong force of local women. Culturally it is the men in the family that earn a living, so many of our women have never received livelihood training. However this is a matriarchal society and these women are skilled wives and mothers who are eager to support themselves and care for their family. Filipinas are natural homebuilders. Their caring nature and innate skills are well applied in tourism. They’re also disciplinarian mothers, who have no trouble keeping the Lost Boys in place.

Over 150 women earn their livelihoods as massage therapists, soap makers, seamstresses, house keepers, farmers, cooks, and kitchen crew.

The Tao Kalahi Foundation engages these women in skills training and livelihood programs that allow them to work close to home.

One of the unforeseen outcomes of this project is natural family planning. Women on the islands don’t control the number of kids they have, but a taste of working and providing for their family often changes their minds.

Our top management is 85% female. They’re the careful and considerate but stern and independent decision-makers behind the operations.

From Masseuses to Management

Management and Staff – As mothers make Filipino homes, women make our kitchens and basecamps. There are over 30 managers and supervisors, housekeepers, cooks, foundation workers, and concierges that make our islands feel like home.

Massage – We started hiring women to give massages in our camps. Working as in-house and on-call masseuses allows them to make money for the family, sometimes more than their husbands. We have over 60 trained masseuses over 6 islands.

Virgin Coconut Oil –
Virgin Coconut Oil is a healthy oil allowed to separate naturally after pressing fresh coconut meat or milk. No heat is used in the process, so the oil retains its high contents of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids. It takes 30 coconuts to produce 1.5 liters of coconut oil. We source our coconut oil from over 20 local women and their families.

Our soap and shampoo + body wash have no weird filler ingredients and we don’t skimp on the virgin coconut oil because we have a lot of it. We’ve trained 5 women and over 50 students in the making of these hand-crafted soaps and shampoos. The only ingredients are virgin coconut oil, essential oils of lemongrass, peppermint, and calamansi, coffee grounds, and gugo bark and guava leaves from forests surrounding the Tao Farm. Profits from these products go into the Association’s own projects, plenty of which have to do with reproductive health awareness.

Weaving – Some new skills we’re learning with women are sewing, weaving, and embroidering. We provide our seamstresses and embroiderers machines and materials so they can work from home. The beddings you sleep on in our basecamps and the Tao bags you get at your expeditions are the products of these new skills.

The Tao Community

Our trips are only possible because you are hosted by the men and women who grew up in the islands we explore. Over the years of building these relationships we’ve welcomed plenty of them into the Tao community.

Welcoming guests from all around the world makes them see their way of life in a new light—one that makes them eager to continue and share it. We are not so much a company as we are a tribe—all working together with a shared vision and pride.

Our tourism and hospitality are avenues for these boys and women to apply their innate skills as well as learn new ones. We don’t “train” the deftness and cheekiness of an island boy or the care and warmth of a woman from the islands, partly because we don’t have to but mostly because those things can’t be trained. Each expedition and island stay is unique precisely because the boys and women who run it can be themselves each time.

Tao is our crew and community. We don’t see them as instruments to “grow the business,” we see the business as an instrument to grow them.

Read about The Lost Boys.