Tara Baraha! Play Your Way Around The Philippines!

At first glance, Tara Baraha! may just be a simple deck of Philippine playing cards. However, founder and CEO Josephine Gamos, created something more than that.

Josephine, also known as Jo, spent almost a decade working in one of the top FMCG companies in the country.  Her idea of coming up with her own business started back in 2017. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve absolutely loved playing cards. My lola made sure all her apos knew how to play tong-its,” she recalled. This inspired what she considers her unusual travel collection: every time she would visit other countries, she would always buy a deck of cards as a souvenir. “While people would usually buy magnets from places they’ve been to, I would always be on the lookout for a deck of cards,” she shared. It took Jo more than 50 decks in that collection before she noticed that she did not own a deck from her own country, the Philippines. “The irony of a baraha-loving country not having its own deck was really what started it,” she shared.

Jo immediately called her friend, Vanessa Gaston and artist, Kil Camalongay to bring her idea to life. “It took me a year of working with those two very talented girls and going through tons of mockups with my printer before launching it via Instagram in November 2018. So far, it’s been an amazing ride,” she shared.

According to her, Tara Baraha! is an invitation for Filipinos and foreigners alike to (re)discover the beauty of the Philippines. In fact, that vision in itself was the inspiration behind the brand name, with “Tara!” being the default Filipino way of inviting someone to do something fun. “I just really wanted to make people enjoy playing their way around the Philippines. What makes it really special is aside from it being a really beautiful deck, it comes with 52 info cards that would take you on a visual journey around the Philippines and would somehow introduce you to what our country is all about. On top of that, we’ve created 3 joker cards that might just make you book a flight to your next local destination,” she pointed out.

Aside from promoting tourism in the country, Jo wanted to pay it forward by partnering with her chosen NGO, Dream Big Pilipinas. “With every deck sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Dream Big Pilipinas – which aims to help underprivileged kids have better opportunities through football and education. No better way to help this country than to give the youth opportunities for a better future!!”, she shared.

Just a little over 6 months since it was launched, she is proud to say that there are over a thousand owners of Tara Baraha! decks. “Expansion is definitely in the works! The vision really is for Tara Baraha! to be THE Philippines’ playing cards. There are already a lot of ideas for succeeding Tara Baraha! decks, but I’m currently collaborating with another friend to launch an exciting new deck by Q4 this year.”

It was a big step for Jo to leave the corporate world and start her own business.  According to her, she still has a lot to learn. Throughout her journey, she learned that it takes a lot of courage and grit to go for what you really want. “It may seem cliché but JUST DO IT. I used to be so afraid of my passion project being a big failure, but now that I’m here, I’ve never felt better about being wrong. With all the digital enablers these days making it so easy for you to experiment, there’s no reason you shouldn’t share your amazing idea to the world.  Always start with your why – when you have your own business, there will always be very difficult days. But when your why is clear, it makes all the hustle worth it,” she concluded.

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