A beautiful success story

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PEOPLE
By Noreen Tormis

Maricel Perales

What are the chances of meeting someone who was  pushed off Mactan Bridge and lived to tell the story?

Exactly my thoughts, slim to none. But in one of my life’s adventures I did meet someone who survived falling off the Old Mactan bridge, lived to tell it and succeeded in life. 

A month ago, I was aimlessly scouring online for something interesting to do on my free time when I chanced upon a Facebook post about learning how to microblade eyebrows. 

The frustrated tattoo artist in me decided to enroll and learn how to create the perfect eyebrows. 

It only took a few minutes after I sent my query  when I got a call from a woman with a very friendly voice. Our conversation went on for more than 30 minutes where she gave me all the details i needed to enroll in her class.

Fast forward and after not making it to 2 scheduled workshops i was finally able to meet the woman whose photos i admired on Facebook.

I arrived at her shop 15 minutes late even if I only live a block away. And even before I opened the glass door she was already all smiles and ready to greet me. As if we have already met a long time ago. 

That’s Maricel Perales Simons, beautiful, warm, unassuming and this is her story:

She was born in Sipalay, Negros to a family of farmers. The fourth child in a family of ten. 

She recalled walking to school everyday in her hand-me-down clothes and worn out flip-flops . There were days she went to bed  hungry and precisely at sunset because there was no oil for the lamplight. Poverty denied her the basics of modern life like toilet facilities and refrigeration.  This situation gave her the deep drive to make a better life for herself and her family. 

They had to cross the  rivers 6 times  to get to school on a 2 hr hike  and sometimes when it rained  they would have to tie a rope around their waists while  crossing  so that she and her siblings would not be carried away by the strong current.


One of her chores on the way to school was to take the goats to graze. There was about a dozen goats all trailing a 3 meter leash. She would grab one and head out and the rest of the goats would run out ahead on the narrow mountain path. The terrain being steep and dense with vegetation, made it a risky task and so many goats made it important to run fast to keep up and not lose any animals. 


One day it so happened that a trailing leash entangled Maricel’s leg on a particularly steep path and she couldn’t free herself due to the speed of a full run and the angle. She was dragged down the steep path, encountering thorns and brush and rocks and getting extremely battered and sustaining cuts and bruises. 

She lodged in a tree, stopping the goat from its headlong rush and managed to free herself, discovering she was bleeding profusely from several injuries. Wading through the river on her two hour walk to school she washed some of the blood off but by the time she arrived she was a shocking sight, all bloody and disheveled. 

The teachers immediately took her to a medical center for her wounds. This was quite a scene for her classmates, everyone being shocked and dismayed seeing her covered in blood.  She retains the scars of this event to this day. 

At 12 years old, she was sent to Cebu to live with a relative so she could continue her studies. 

When she turned 17 and eager to earn her own money, she applied for a job in a Japanese company and lied about her age, telling them she was already 19 to get the job as an executive assistant. Having already been taught computer  basics she has honed her  skills to the point where she does all her own ads, marketing, design and number crunching 
for all aspects of the business. 

She then met her first serious boyfriend, an American who swooned her and made her believe in happily ever after. 

Little did she know that it would be the start of her living nightmare. Her boyfriend was sober when they met but started drinking soon after. The alcohol turned him into a jealous violent psychopath who beat her, screamed in her face cut up her clothes, broke her phone chip, emptied her purse looking for phone numbers and on and on it went. 


The relationship went on  for 2 years and her boyfriend would get into violent episodes  on a regular basis. He would hit her and sometimes she would pass out because of the physical pain.

When she decided that she had enough and needed to stop the abuse, she ended the relationship and left but her abusive boyfriend had other plans.

One night, they agreed to meet up to formally end the relationship and get some closure so they could both move on their separate lives.

They met at a bar, and since Maricel doesn’t drink, Bob (not his real name) ordered ahead a glass of mango shake. Unbeknownst to her it was laced with the date rape drug, rendering her into a blackout state.

She awoke and became aware that  she was being dragged out of a cab and was forcibly pushed off the old Mactan Bridge. She tried to fight with all her might and tried hugging one of the metal poles until she ran out of strength to fight. 

The last thing she remembers was bouncing off a concrete shelf, severely injuring her hip and careening like a rag doll, hitting the cold waters of the Mactan channel at 120 KPH then passing out again. 

She again gained consciousness as water was getting into her nose and mouth. She  tried to stay afloat by laying on her back because she had never been taught how to swim. Crying and weakly mewing for help for hours, she was literally drowning when a young man on the shore heard her desperate pleas and rescued her. 

Maricel stayed in the hospital for weeks, slipping in and out of consciousness, in pain, weak, on oxygen unable to breathe properly but was never hopeless.

And when she was finally out of the hospital she tried living life as normal as possible. A chance encounter had her meet her future husband at a 7/ 11 whose first words upon seeing her were “Will you marry me”. Obviously shocked she replied something like Are you crazy? He said I’m not kidding  and long story short they had a marriage contract in their hands 64 days later 

They lived abroad for 3 years, where she took numerous courses in cosmetology studied and perfected her skills in making people beautiful. 

Recognizing an opportunity to introduce certain specialty services in the Philippines her husband Trent agreed to move back to the Philippines and start a  business. 

Now almost 2 years after establishing High-giene salon and achieving a reputation as one of the top Masters in the country. Recently, a prominent magazine – Philippine Entrepreneur Magazine awarded her a top succeeder in a glitzy and glamorous ceremony at the prestigious City of Dreams Convention Centre in Manila. Furthermore K-Beauty Olympics awarded her the position of International Judge at a huge makeup convention /competition in Bangkok in September of 2018.

Aside from the beauty centers and the microblading academy, she plans to venture into franchising and offer her successful business model to franchisees. Years of trying every beauty product under the sun caused her to launch her own line of products that work aptly named M’s Secret. 

But what makes her more admirable is her humility and her love for family.

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