Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.
Randy Ramiro is the founder and CEO of in Infanta International Incorporated, the parent company of the first and only double gold craft-distilled spirits brand of its kind, Infanta Lambanog. Infanta Lambanog is made from coconut palm tree nectar imported from the Islands of the Philippines, and the first and only to reach US and UAE markets.
Randy is passionate about sharing his cultural heritage with others through his brand, and also enjoys learning about other cultures as well. Prior to his endeavors as a serial entrepreneur in industry spanning renewable energy, climate change, import export and product development, Randy’s professional background holds over eight years in federal procurement that supported fundamental science research efforts at Stanford Universities, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Berkeley National Labs.
Randy’s personal interests include world travel, music, and spending quality time with his family. All right, Randy, I’m so excited to have you this week with me. So, I am just elated that we had the opportunity to meet at a community event not long ago. And we’ll give a shout out to Yi Yang who connected us. Yi Yang Lu. She is out there, our San Francisco arts commissioner now, and talented all-around artist for sure. I want to just start off talking a little bit about your background and how you came to be where you are today.
Randy Ramiro: Wow. Well, I guess there’s a lot of different ways I can take it, but let’s start off from the very beginning of the startup in Infanta Lambanog, which is the brand that I represent. It’s an idea that formed back in 2008 and it was to bring in a product which is alcohol, an alcohol brand of my own country and my heritage of the Philippines, it’s called Lambanog, the brand is called in Infanta, and we brought the first Lambanog brand to be sold on the market here in the US and also the United Arab Emirates.
And it’s a very representative of our heritage and culture, which was not represented before. And I think, first, I just want to say thank you, Melyssa, for having us here on The Jali Podcast. It’s very in tune with what we believe.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. Well, I’m so glad to hear about it. And you hear about so many people being the first, and so for you to be able to bring it here to the US is pretty awesome. Do you want to talk a little bit about… I think you said you were born in the Philippines.
Randy Ramiro: Yep. Yes, that’s right. I was born in the Philippines in Makati. Makati, Philippines, but our family is both American and Philippine, so we have dual citizenship, and I was born in the Philippines, but shortly after, when I was one years old I came to the US, and our families just assimilated into that, but also held very strongly to our culture and heritage. And there’s a whole story behind that, and not only for myself, but for our community at large.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome, because that’s often really difficult to do. I know, as I grew up, my mother is from Panama and for us it was like, “We need to speak English. You’re not going to speak Spanish.” And so we of course had this disconnection because of the assimilation that everybody was trying to go back in the ’70s. I love the fact that you’re keeping that culture, as my husband used to say, “A culture keeper”, to really make sure that the culture comes through and that everybody gets to know the heritage and gets exposed to it. That’s great.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. I think that was a very common, I guess you could say, theme in the ’80s and ’90s. I guess assimilating into this culture, maybe as a first generation or second generation immigrant, the question as you grow up would be, “How am I accepted in this society and also represent my own?”
And I know in my experience, speaking with others in our community, I’ve come across people that have completely disowned their culture. And I was alarmed because I’m thinking, “We have such a beautiful culture and it should be shared.” And not only that, and I’m Filipino. And with that, there’s an understanding of our culture being very inclusive and accepting and also sharing. And that was a surprise to me, and I wanted to change that narrative. It’s a very similar goals with others in our community too, that I’ve come to find. They had the same experience and to find myself a part of something that was actually happening, a movement that was happening, was really special [inaudible 00:06:34] my own.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Well, and now you have this opportunity to educate people on a culture that they may not be aware of. So, what is Lambanog, and where does it come from? What does it taste like? You’re going to have to describe it for our listeners.
Randy Ramiro: I had an idea to bring a bottle here to just show it. We can do a cut and then show it…
Melyssa Barrett: Yes.
Randy Ramiro:In its very simple form. It’s an alcohol that’s distilled from palm tree nectar. And so specifically coconut palm trees. When you go back to the Philippines, people may call refer to it as coconut vodka, coconut wine. And I think Lambanog inherently being from the industry of distilled spirits and culturally from the Philippines, there was disconnect because I think in the Philippine mindset there wasn’t an understanding of this industry with alcohol and distilled spirits, that we didn’t know terminology, we didn’t know how to kind of connect, which is also another thing that, I guess you can say, our culture’s assimilating to.
But in this same effect, the industry did not also acknowledge that there is a lot of contributions that our culture and heritage has contributed to the distilled spirits history and culture and community at large. And there’s so many, I’d love to go into that if you will, and-
Melyssa Barrett: Please, yeah.
Randy Ramiro: … would love to share that with you all.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome.
Randy Ramiro: Maybe before I start, I can just grab a bottle to show. Is that right?
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, that’d be great. That’d be great.
Randy Ramiro: Okay. Well, one second.
Melyssa Barrett: Because you got to have a bottle close by at all times, right?
Randy Ramiro: Right, yeah. I was like, “Oh, I don’t have one here.” Here is our bottle. It’s so-
Melyssa Barrett: So beautiful.
Randy Ramiro: Melyssa and viewers, this is our bottle. It’s called in Infanta Lambanog. Lambanog is the category of spirits. So, similar to sake or vodka or rum, this is the category. Infanta here is the brand that we bring here into the US. First ever Lambanog sold and distributed here in the US, United States and United Emirates, soon to be Canada.
Melyssa Barrett: Congratulations.
Randy Ramiro: Thank you very much. So, where shall I start now? I think I was speaking on our heritage’s contribution into the industry. I think with Lambanog generally, there is a lot of unknowns in regards to where does it come from? What’s it made from? And when was it created and how does that play into the history of distilled spirits?
And so I think the story that I believe connects the most with our industry is in the contribution of Lambanog technology that was adapted by Mexican agave distillers. By the way, Melyssa, I’m trying to formulate my thoughts in the most simplest form-
Melyssa Barrett: No worries. Take your time. Take your time, Randy.
Randy Ramiro: Back in 1565 to 1815, about 200-300 years or so, there was a Spanish Galleon ship or multiple shifts that in this period, they called the trading between Philippines and Mexico, Spanish Galleon trades. And you can Google that, look into history and it’ll tell you more about how the Spanish traded between Philippines and Mexico directly.
Twice per year, during that 200-300 years, the Spanish Galleon ship would do trades from Philippines to Mexico. And one of the things that they traded among silks, textiles, and other goods was the technology of distilling.
Distilling was done in the Philippines by these… they called it Filipino stills. And there’s other terms that people associate with that, but it was a still that you can kind of create. It wasn’t a big one, but it enabled the process of distilling, so separating vapors from a fermented mash of yeast and product.
Anyway, I think that’s maybe more detailed, but in the Spanish Galleon trade, they brought these stills, Filipino stills, to Mexico. And during those times, Mexico had produced agave liquor. I mean, I’m sorry, not liquor, but like a beer, and they called it Pulque. Mexican agave was fermented into Pulque, which is the beer form of tequila or Mezcal. It was never distilled. And so once the Filipino stills were adopted into the Pulque industry, into the whole process, that’s when Mezcal and agave spirits were formed.
They took the Pulque, and then they turned into what’s known now as Mezcal and tequila. In general, considering how big the tequila industry is, how big the Mezcal industry is, not acknowledging the fact that this technology contributed from the trade between the two countries, it would be sad to not have that story included. And I think on the grander scale of the industry, it’s very important for people to know, for historians, for aficionados of tequila. It’s an important story that needs to be shared. And we’re losing that.
We’re losing that in the industry and we’re losing that on the support from our own government, which we’re also contributing to how that discussion pans out from here forward.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. That is awesome. See, I mean, these are the things. My voice is all raspy today, but these are the things that are so important to me in terms of being able to get people to come on and really talk about the perspective. I mean, you’re going back to the 1500s and talking about the trade with Mexico and I’m like, “Wow.” I mean, those are things… You’re right. We do lose kind of what that history looks like and the contributions of so many other countries in the United States and abroad. I mean, it’s really a global conversation that we’re having kind constantly, which is great.
Randy Ramiro: I’m glad you can acknowledge that. Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. And I mean, I just appreciate all the things that you’re doing to make sure that the acknowledgement is there and that you’re providing a perspective that a lot of people don’t hear about very often when you’re talking about Lambanog and the Filipino tequila or vodka, or… I mean, the contribution is so great, not to mention as we get back into farming and all of those things, it’s amazing to see when we just look at the resources that we have in front of us, how we actually manage and maintain them, and alcohol of course is a great way to do so.
Randy Ramiro: Right. Yeah, I think you’re right. Considering how farming and that whole process and harvesting is implemented is an important part of the discussion too. I want to add in, I did a talk at the California Academy of Science, they have a museum or space in San Francisco for that, and I was invited to speak on that on behalf of the Philippine Department of Tourism and Industry, and to make sure that we had a voice there. It was just a really cool opportunity to be able to be a part of that and represent a portion of our heritage that does not have light shone upon.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. No, in fact, I think I saw something on that and I want to say there was a drink called Weng-Weng?
Randy Ramiro: Yes. Yes. Weng-Weng.
Melyssa Barrett: I was like, “Hold on.” I think I was doing some research, Randy.
Randy Ramiro: All right. I’m so glad. Yeah. Have you tried a-
Melyssa Barrett: I have not. I have not.
Randy Ramiro: I guess the one really cool fun thing about what we do in our industry are cocktails, and cocktails are just a creative way to express in drink format, different things you want represented. And the Weng-Weng is a cocktail that was named and created in the Philippines. It’s just a mixture of different drinks, but there really is a cocktail named Weng-Weng, which is really funny, and there really is a drink called Weng-Weng. It’s so cool.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. No, I think it was awesome. Because I think if I remember correctly, they let people try and taste Lambanog Infanta, and then they also had a couple of cocktails that they allowed people to taste. I think that was awesome. I love the fact that the Filipino tourism was involved, almost taking people on a journey there through drinks. That’s awesome.
Randy Ramiro: Right, right. Yeah. We were just ecstatic about the opportunity. I think that wasn’t our first collaboration with Philippines Tourism Department. I think in our inception, we have done a celebration of Filipino foods or we participated in a number of different events.
One of them, I think our initial one was… It’s called Savor Filipino. Savor Filipino is a Filipino food festival, the first of its kind that happened here in San Francisco. And it just brought together a lot of our community, which is very big considering the number of our demographic all across the US, and we brought representatives of each, I guess you could say, region of the US that represented our Filipino food community. And we brought them together in one space here in San Francisco. I think that was back in 2014. I think we had a awesome opportunity.
We were invited by Philippines Tourism Department to represent as well, on the drink side, and alongside, I believe San Miguel Beer. And yeah, I think you’d say that was our initial interaction. And just from there, we’ve collaborated many other times. The fact that they acknowledge that we are representative of our culture here in the US and they support it, is just mind blowing. You couldn’t ask for more. I mean, especially coming from a place that never had this product represented, you know what I mean?
Melyssa Barrett: Right. Well, and to that point, how did you even decide to go there, since it’s not something that has been here? I mean, were you just like on a bender one night and said, “You know what, I’m going to try this.” Or what?
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. I mean, the question of, how did you come up with the idea? It’s so funny that you posed it in that way, because it is a common question. Were you guys drinking and then the idea came up?
And so initially, yes, I think when I was searching for something I can involve myself in shortly after I graduated my university studies, the question of, what should I involve myself in? Where can I contribute to the society and what I believe in and something that holds true to my culture and my beliefs? I was drinking with my business partner at the time. I think the one of the things that inspired me to bring the idea to my business partner after a night of drinking was I graduated college, my university studies.
I had a graduation party and all my family was there. And what’s kind of special in some Filipino families is that they may have a Lambanog bottle that they have flew and snuck into their luggage flying here to the US. And this is very common with many Filipino families. Not all, I would say, but many. They’ll have a Lambanog bottle that was flown from the Philippines and it’s in their liquor cabinet, something like that. They’ll only have a drink during special occasions.
And my graduation, a bottle was brought out that was aged over 20 something years. And as I shared that with my family, I would have to say it was one of the best alcohols I’ve ever tasted. And that’s coming from a college experience of drinking and [crosstalk 00:21:49].
Melyssa Barrett: Celebrating and enjoying yourself, right?
Randy Ramiro: Right. Exactly. And I said, “Wow, why is this not here? Why is it not here in the US?” And I started going on Google and it was not. And I was so taken back because of the amount of alcohols that are represented here in the US, in comparison to our demographics, our community holds a large part of some regions. And just considering that, and us not being represented in the space of distilled spirits, it was shocking. And I said, “This is what I want to be a part of.” This is where I want to contribute. And add to the story for our community. And building a small business is always difficult, but I’m so happy to say and deliver the message that, “Hey, I think… Not I think, but we are gaining traction here. We have gotten noticed even by the bigger global portfolios. We’ve been connected with many of them, and not only that, but we’ve also had the chance to share a Lambanog to the industry at large and make it available.”
And I think that has been an awesome experience to do. And no one else has that. We even have others that are following our footsteps, the next generation that I see, and it’s not only Lambanog, it’s different and it’s not only in the US, but now people… there are others that are looking to bring it elsewhere. And I’m like, “Wow, this is exactly the kind of push and collective effort that we need in order to create a voice here.”
Melyssa Barrett: You are definitely blazing a trail. I see lots of wonderful things, and you’re pretty young yourself to be the CEO of your own brand, which is awesome. And I think one of the things that’s really interesting to me, especially looking at how young you are, you’re already really mentoring others. And so your leadership in that way is just amazing to me because I think a lot of people, they’re very specific and everything is very competitive. But you tend to be very mentoring to other people, even in your industry.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. I think collaboration for us in our experience as a brand has been the most supportive thing for us to not only keep us afloat, but to push us to the next level and just… My experience and my team’s experience take on the industry itself, I think it’s very unique in that it’s exclusive. And so if you were to think about any other industry, I don’t know, let’s say ice cream, maybe having ice cream restaurant, I think being able to support someone else’s endeavor to start an ice cream restaurant elsewhere, I’m sure that they would love to support them and guide them.
And what I found here in the alcohol industry after 10 plus years, over 10 years surely, was that it’s very exclusive, almost fraternity-like, I guess. You really have to know the right people, make the right connections, otherwise you will be shunned out. And I mean, there’s a lot of nuances to consider when involving yourself in the industry. And our brand has been able to survive navigating through that, and I think that’s because of the support of our community, because the community has built up a voice and we have support there.
I think those that have a say in what’s included into the next generation of spirits to be considered in certain outlets, they’ve taken a notice to us because of the support. And so I wanted to take that same collaborative effort and support another brand that I believed held the same values and really did something good and represents something well. I think it’s representative of our people, even. Just being very [inaudible 00:26:59] sharing. And what better way to do that than share it with others that want to do the same thing?
Melyssa Barrett: What a fabulous leader you are in the space. I think it’s just awesome. Especially as we talk about… I mean, you talk about the importance of not only the people and the culture, but how they are in fact supporting you, which kind of… to me, everything comes back to why people need to be engaged in the community is because your voice does matter. It makes a difference. And so to the extent that you actually can express your values, your thoughts, your feedback, and spend your money accordingly, it speaks volumes to the world, right?
Randy Ramiro: Right, right. Melyssa, I think it’s so fitting, this discussion is so fitting, and what Jali represents as a podcast and the values that you guys are putting out there, and we’re representing also. I think it’s very fitting, this discussion, because I think in our experience, we were able to live that and see the outcome of a community that comes together in support of our communities and representation, and see it actually apply to a mainstream audience and have it accepted and acknowledged.
And I just want to give one example that I was super proud of. I think about two years ago, I think it was prior to COVID, there was a New York Times article, not only an article, a front page, New York Times front page article on Filipino food. And that has never happened before, but I believe the spark for that to happen started from the little communities coming together in support of each other and starting that discussion. And then it kind of led to, “Hey, there’s something going on here.” These editors and journalists are saying, “There’s something going on here, that’s happening. Let’s cover it.”
And just that support from not only within the community, but from outside and just from that angle is just… we were able to see that. I believe that these types of discussions that we’re even having now on this podcast are very important for us.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes. Yeah. For sure. But one of the things I was going to ask you is you talked about the having to know people, which was kind of a nice way of saying there’s a good old boy network somewhere in there, I’m sure. You said it very nicely, but I think one of the things, I mean, I’m assuming there’s lots of lessons learned as you’ve gone through this journey, as you all have come out with the brand, are there things now because of the mentorship and collaboration that you are certainly pursuing? Do you see some of that getting better? Is there an impact or are there things that other people can do to kind of celebrate what you’re doing in the space?
Randy Ramiro: Let’s see, I guess the question is, do we see it getting better? Do we see the collaboration amongst intercommunity collaboration? Is that-
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, that’s what I’m asking. Or is there room for improvement? Because if there’s room for improvement, maybe that’s what we are looking for today.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. I think there is a room for improvement. Just maybe if we’re talking industry-wise, I think the times are changing. Back when we first started, it was either you’re a big brand or you’re not, and you’re not included into the big retail space, but now because of the little brands are starting their communities, that opened up the idea of, “Hey, let’s start a craft industry.”
And now even if you walk into big retailers, I’m not sure if I can say it, but BevMo! or Total Wine, they have aisles dedicated for smaller craft brands. And I think that is a step forward, and I do think it is progressing, but there is definitely a room for improvement in how these brands can start and even grow.
I know even the large portfolios have only recently created venture capital or funds that can support startups, that look to aim towards that direction. And for that to just happen now is… Well, it’s a good thing that it’s happening, but for it to just happen now, it means it’s just the beginning. And I think that there’s a lot more room for us to kind of help build that.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, yes. For sure. I’m just thinking back to when you started, in terms of your own capital funding process had to be pretty challenging. I mean, it’s nice to see the tides perhaps starting to turn. So, that’s awesome.
Randy Ramiro: Right. Right. Starting up any business is very difficult. And I guess maybe that’s a defining challenge that if you are serious about moving forward with a business, maybe that’s a challenge just that must be overcome by any small business. Anything that comes easy is easily thrown away, but you dedicate yourself and you commit yourself, then you know you’re open to anything and you can do anything. Yep.
Melyssa Barrett: Definitely. In fact, I just was looking at a study that was sent to me earlier, and they were talking about how there’s a new report out there that talks about racism, discouraging… specifically, this one was Black businesses, from funding, but it was really about the fact that you get to the point where you don’t even want to apply because you know you’re going to be rejected. And so there were, I think, the number of Black firms that did not apply for financing was 40%, where if you looked at it was only 12% for white firms or 24% for Hispanic and 22% for Asian firms.
And so it’s interesting to me because when you talk about continual discrimination and racism and how it can impact the businesses that you want to open, the expansion that you want to do, not because you don’t want to do it, just because you’ve been discriminated against in the past.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. I agree. It’s discouraging, from a place of previous experience and just seeing what kind of, in comparison, what type of support do we have as maybe minorities or different background, I guess, compared to others. I think that, yeah, it’s very discouraging. It’s very discouraging to see that play out and should not be. I think success should not be defined by the color of our skin. And I don’t see how that changes anything. I mean, that needs to be changed.
Melyssa Barrett: I mean, that’s one of the reasons I love doing this because celebrating people that are doing it like you are, is so inspiring to me. And I hope it’s inspiring to other people who are listening and seeing you blaze a trail at your young age to become a CEO. I know you also just got married not long ago. So’s, congratulations there.
Randy Ramiro: That’s right. Thank you.
Melyssa Barrett: 2/22/22?
Randy Ramiro: 2/22/22. On that Tuesday. Yeah. At 2:22 PM.
Melyssa Barrett: At 2:22 PM?
Randy Ramiro: Yeah.
Melyssa Barrett: Oh my gosh.
Randy Ramiro: It’s funny. That’s another story, but yeah, it’s a cool little thing we wanted to have there.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Awesome. All right. So, tell us more about what we can expect with Lambanog.
Randy Ramiro: Okay. With Infanta Lambanog, we have just recently increased our distribution into more stores, 35 more stores of BevMo!. We have increased our sales over in current retail locations, at Seafood City. Seafood City is our biggest supporter, and that is a Filipino retail and business, but we’re also in Total Wine, we’re expanding into different regions.
So, one of them being Canada, like I mentioned earlier, but we are also in United Arab Emirates at locations and select hotel venues. And right now, online, you can purchase it in different states. So, different states are governed by different laws. Sometimes it may not be available, but you can see if it’s available online and you can purchase it from there. The preferred one I’d like to refer people to is HolidayWineCellar.com. So, if you’re in the East Coast and you want to grab a bottle and it’s not available there, you can go to HolidayWineCellar.com. And yeah, I think just continual growth.
In regards to branding, we’re changing up branding a bit and trying to navigate through post-COVID times and seeing how productions work, because that’s always a monster and yeah, just trying to step to the next level and maintain. I think we are doing a fantastic job. Our team is doing great, and having opportunities like this, being a part of The Jali podcast is just amazing and truly appreciative of it.
Melyssa Barrett: Awesome. Awesome. Well, and tell us, Infanta, the name. Where did that originate?
Randy Ramiro: Infanta is a name of a town in the Quezon Province of the Philippines. Now, I should distinguish in Infanta is not where we source our product, but it is more of an inspiration in a story where one of our friends have volunteered his time through, I think the Red Cross, when the town was devastated and brought to… All of the buildings were destroyed. And so when he volunteered in the Town of Infanta to help rebuild it, the townspeople, and more particularly the town priest, offered to him bottle of Lambanog in, I wouldn’t say compensation, but maybe to show his attitude for volunteering, even though the town had nothing, literally it was devastated.
And for the fact of that actual gift-giving, it told a lot out about who we were as a people and our gratitude, and also just being able to rebuild and coming out of that together meant a lot. And we wanted that to be represented in our brand. They do manufacture Lambanog in Infanta, but that’s not where we get it, but that story is so, so integral. It’s representative of who we are as a people, I think.
Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. The resilience, the strength. There’s so many different components to that. So inspiring. That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Randy Ramiro: I think Infanta is actually a Spanish word that is in regards to royalty and a royal family. Infanta is not the princess, but it is the next in line, the next daughter in line. If we were to play that into our story, we are not the princess, or this brand is not the princess coming into the distilled spirits industry, but we are the next in line.
Melyssa Barrett: Next in line. Next in line.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah, exactly.
Melyssa Barrett: Maybe you’re telling me you have a daughter on the way? No, I’m just kidding.
Randy Ramiro: My wife and I, we’re planning on that. We’re planning on having the future with kids and I’m looking forward to it. I joke around with our mutual friend, Emanuel, because he has children. Emmanuel is the owner of Old Hillside Bourbon Company, and they have a whiskey, and I’m also helping mentor and guide them through the industry. But I always joke with him in regards to having children. We just joke around a lot and he says, “It’s a handful, but it’s worth every bit of having children.”
Melyssa Barrett: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, hopefully you’ll come back and tell us all about that once you cross that opportunity.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah. How about you, Melyssa? Do you have children of your own?
Melyssa Barrett: Oh yes. I have three and I have six grandkids, actually.
Randy Ramiro: Wow. Congrats. That’s amazing.
Melyssa Barrett: Yes, we are expanding and expanding. It’s like once you start, they just kind of keep on going.
Randy Ramiro: How is this discussion passed down to [inaudible 00:42:36], the discussion of inclusion and diversity, how important that is? I’m so interested.
Melyssa Barrett: What’s so interesting about it is… So, my husband and I started Kwanza, gosh, 20, 22, 23 years ago. And that was kind of our first. My husband was completely into history of every kind. He could tell you your history, no matter where you came from. And so for us, it was, “Let’s start with Kwanza.”
We were kind of sick of the commercialization of Christmas, but really wanted to focus on something cultural. And to be honest, I don’t think we actually thought our kids were paying any attention until all of a sudden they were teenagers and they started getting tattoos with Kwanza principles and it was like all of a sudden we were like, “Oh my gosh, they were actually listening.”
And so now it’s like all of them are doing something that has to do with inclusion, their mindset, they’re caring for others, they’re focusing on different health and wellness, ritualistic ceremonies. And the oldest one is in the Air Force and he’s teaching on inclusion as well. So, it’s been kind of one of those things where you continue to expand your conversation, everybody’s always learning.
And so I don’t think you ever get to the point where you can’t be educated on something that has to do with inclusion because nobody knows everything about every culture, but it’s an opportunity for us to continue to have that dialogue and just continue to be open and hearing about other cultures.
And I mean, the fact that you talk about… The fact that people can really give Infanta in a way that really shows the amount of gratitude and the special event that you might be coming to when they’re bringing Lambanog, I think is so amazing because we want to be able to connect with others in a way that really allows us to understand different cultures. And I think it’s so awesome that you’re giving people the opportunity to share something that’s bigger than the drink. But the connection, which is awesome.
Randy Ramiro: I agree. Maybe I want to ask here because in previous podcasts we’ve done, we’ve had new interested fans into our brand. And also those who have been part of the podcast that have just learned, and also others from our community that’s kind of following our progress here and inclusion.
So, I wanted to ask in regards to inclusion and diversity… In my opinion and my experience, I think that dialogue has only started in the last decade, maybe two decades. I don’t know, but maybe you can kind of dive more into that. And I know on my part, it’s very important that it’s talked about because we lived it. We’re living in our collaborations, in our values, and I don’t think our brand has done the best job at exposing that story. But maybe for those who are following in this podcast and are hearing it maybe for the first time, our experience in that discussion.
I’m wondering, maybe could you kind of give our followers even some background into just the history of like, “Where did this discussion start? And why is it important?” And I don’t know, maybe in brief, but it’s-
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. I mean, I could go back hundreds of years. No. But I think what’s so relevant today is we have such a push. I think honestly when George Floyd’s daughter said, “My daddy changed the world.” Actually, I mean that whole murder, I think really opened a lot of people’s eyes about something that they didn’t realize was so bad.
And I think for certainly a lot of the Black community, it’s yet another time this has happened. And often there is not a whole lot of justice that takes place. I think with our ability now, with the technology to actually take video, take pictures and have people there telling the story along with the fact that there is this whole movement, and people would say, “Black Lives Matter,” and people would think about, “Well, all lives matter.”
All lives matter. But the point was really to help people understand that Black Lives Matter, because most of the time they don’t. And so it wasn’t taking away from the fact that everybody else’s life matters or that the police matter. It’s really about just giving us this same amount of matter.
Randy Ramiro: Yeah, yeah. I agree with you.
Melyssa Barrett: And so being able to… And I think even as I was working in corporate at the time as a vice president at Visa, one of the things that really came out for us was people started really talking, having a dialogue about things that they never would have before. I mean, we heard stories from people of different ethnicities that were discriminated against and having just as much of a difficult time, some having been beaten and tortured and all sorts of things.
And I think it really allowed people to express themselves in a way that was a much deeper connection to know how similar we are as people. We’re not all that different from each other. And so being able to collaborate as you are doing in so many different ways and giving back to the community, that’s really what people are looking for is just to be allowed to have the same opportunities as everyone, right? And as those that have the privilege, which are typically white males.
There is more than enough space in the world for everyone. And I think the point is to make sure there are equitable practices throughout the process, whether you’re talking about recruiting for jobs or getting capital for your business, just an equal opportunity. No special treatment necessarily, but just an equal opportunity.
Randy Ramiro: Right. I think with that in mind, it just brings me back to a couple of experiences I’ve had in some of my meetings. Some of my business partners are within the Black community, and when I introduce one partner with another from different businesses, there was something that… there’s an experience that I’ve had in that instance that I think was very unique in that the question, the discussion of…
I don’t know how I can make this simple. I’m sorry. Let me try to [inaudible 00:51:33]. I’ve introduced some of my business partners together, both being Black. When they first met, one of the questions that were brought up was, “So have you experienced the discrimination… ” I can’t say it word for word, but along the lines of, “What is your experience in this industry? Do they treat you differently?”
And for that question to just come up was unique for me. I haven’t come across something like that, but to realize, “Wow, okay, this is something that’s happening, and there are people that are being discriminated.” It’s happening. And for me to experience something like that was new. And just for that topic to be brought up…
Melyssa Barrett: Brought up. Yeah.
Randy Ramiro: It was eyeopening and made me think, “This shouldn’t be happening.” And this is where I want to step in and say, this should not be happening. And I want to push forward even more, whatever collaboration we’re doing, I want to support this and I want to make sure that we are supporting each other, and that you don’t feel that way, especially when it comes with business with me and anyone of my networks that we work together.
Yeah. I will say that was a unique topic of discussion from any meeting I’ve had, and it is important to know that this is happening. And just from those discussions itself, I think people can formulate how we can structure things better for our future as a society. I hope that makes sense.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, absolutely. I think hopefully that’s what most of us want these days is to just be able to make sure that we’re impacting the community in a way that allows everyone that equal opportunity. That’s awesome. I mean, the fact that you’re first in many ways for the distilled spirits is amazing. You are blazing the trail, my friend.
Randy Ramiro: Thanks
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. We’re excited to see you blossom and grow and we’re going to be following Infanta. I’m going to get my bottle so that I can celebrate as well.
Randy Ramiro: I got a bottle for you, Melyssa. I’ve got one here.
Melyssa Barrett: No, we will definitely be buying a bottle, but we will share it and definitely spread the word for those around. And I’m looking forward to hearing so much more from you, Randy, and your success. Anything we can do, we look forward to having you back, and maybe you can talk more at that point as your company grows, about all of the focus that you all have as you’re moving forward.
Randy Ramiro: I appreciate it. I appreciate being here. Thanks for having us. This is a wonderful podcast that is so fitting and we are excited to be here, and hopefully there’s new fans of our brand. And we also bring the same to your brand as well. And I appreciate it. Thanks for having us.
Melyssa Barrett: Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time. And sorry my voice was so raspy today, but we were just going to keep on moving. I didn’t want to miss the conversation, so…
Randy Ramiro: No worries.
Melyssa Barrett: Thanks again, Randy. And I look forward to hearing more from Infanta.
Randy Ramiro: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Melyssa Barrett: Thanks for joining me on The Jali podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.