At the age of five, Dra. Vicki Belo made it her life’s mission to make the Philippines the most beautiful country in the world…
Dra. Vicki arrived on set— script in hand—practicing her lines. “Di siya mukhang 59,” a junior staff whispers. She must have heard – she turns around to face the speaker with her signature half-grin, as if in acknowledgement. But the 59-year old was not always so confident. A self-described “fat, pimply kid,” Dra. Vicki channeled her insecurities into a vision of owning her own clinic. Over the following decades, with determination and verve, she transformed the Belo Medical Group into the biggest beauty hub in the country – no joke in a notoriously cutthroat industry.
Despite her success, she holds on to a sense of humor and gratitude. “Oh my gosh, I can’t be a beauty doctor at 55. I’ll probably look so old,” she recalls telling herself 20 years ago. But during break between shots, she looks at the dresser mirror and quips “Oh pwede pa naman e!” bursting into laughter.
As we prepare to resume shooting, Dra. Vicki ditches her towering black stilettos for a pair of pale azure pumps set with a hand-embroidered mouth appliqué. That’s her public image: a vivacious lifestyle icon who embraces change to become more beautiful. But when we finally snuck into her dressing room for an interview, we saw her practical side. We met the forward-looking visionary who built a beauty empire by sharing her gifts with her clients.
V: People would always say “Doctora pangmayaman lang ba produkto niyo? Can’t you give products for us?” Since our motto at Belo is to make the Philippines the most beautiful country in the world one person at a time, it made sense that we would move into fast moving consumer goods… which I’m so happy about. Never in my imagination would it grow so big! I just keep telling people who equate Belo to all these celebrities that everyone who comes to Belo, in my mind, should be treated like a star.
V:I’m very happy to be an endorser for Security Bank. It’s my first endorsement because I’m very particular—I have been asked before but I always say NO because, parang I feel that my credibility will be affected. It was a perfect match because I’m happy to be a spokesperson for this bank that has helped me grow. As I’ve grown, Security Bank has grown—we’re always parallel.
When I first started with them I kinda checked on the bank because, back then, they were not such a big bank. Should I really trust them with my money? Back then they were number 8, 9, 10 but now they’re the fourth biggest bank in the Philippines. Yet they keep a personalized relationship with their clients! Because I’ve banked with number 1 and number 2 and there’s no relationship. Security Bank is big enough to be secure but you still have the feeling of friendship and you know you can call them: “Can you give me naman more money. I’m here in Europe so can you extend my card limit, make it higher.” You know, personal stuff like that, and it makes me very happy.
That’s also what I want to do in Belo. We’re probably the biggest cosmetic surgery, dermatology clinic in the Philippines but I still want people to feel that they’re stars to us.
V: Security Bank has been a partner ever since I moved to Medical Plaza. All of my branches bank with them. I love the service, I love the way that they’re very personal. When I ask about investments, they give me really good advice… they take the time to sit down with me which I never really got from any other bank. I mean the other banks would try to do it pero parang nag mamadali or hindi naman masyado interesado.
I even have my banker’s number in my phone. There’s this Security Banker that has saved me multiple times. He took a personal interest in my welfare like he could tell if there’s someone deceiving me and said “Are you sure you want to do this? Can I make sure that your papers are intact and have you spoken to your lawyer?” And to this day I’m still grateful to him because he really saved me from a lot of problems, a lot of litigation. The connection as a friend is still there.
V: Well of course, I think it’s very important because while money is coming in you have to recognize there’s a life cycle, right? There was a time that we were the rising star and now we’re so successful. But I keep thinking that as I get older… how long can Belo Medical Group really stay up there? We were very blessed and we’ve been on top for a very long time now—I would say that 17-18 years is very long for a clinic.
“I’m definitely looking to take care of myself in the future by investing my money with Security Bank UITFs so that I can still live in the same comfort as I do now when I get older.”
So I invest in Security Bank UITFs because I want passive income. Let’s say that I do decide to retire, I don’t really know if the Belo Medical Group would continue. I would love for it to be an institution. But for some reason, despite the efforts that we have been putting in to make it more like a hospital… the public cannot really seem to be able to detach the clinic from me.
V: The desire to work is still there, the passion to work is there– I still have the energy. I don’t want what happened before to other clinics to happen to Belo.