Women are usually portrayed as anything but awesome in movies, television, and even social media. They are limited to household chores or gratifying the pleasures of others. Young women belonging to the so-called “entitled generation” — millennials — also get a bad rap for being nothing more than just social media savvy and selfie-loving bunch. However, at the recently-concluded Belle De Jour Women’s Summit, we learned that young Filipinas want to be taken seriously (which, if you didn’t know, they’re supposed to be) and can provide groundbreaking and revolutionary contributions to society. We also got to hear young women testify what a Filipina can truly do for the world. Hint: It’s all good.
Here are the women we met at the summit who redefined their roles in the society:
Resilience is about overcoming the ever-present struggles of life and maximizing the qualities you possess to lift others up.
Rachel De Villa is the co-founder and chief technology officer of the multi-awarded crowdfunding platform for Filipino farmers called Cropital. The 23-year-old Computer Science graduate and self-confessed problem-solver built the platform to address the lack of financial support given to Filipino farmers. In fact, two out of three farmers in the country live below the poverty line. “Through Cropital, anyone can finance a farmer by investing funds that will be used to provide the farmer proper equipment, training, and advice from experts,” she explained. Having a blind left eye also did not stop her from pursuing her vision. “We can have the same capabilities. We can have the same opportunities and we can have the same skills as any other person can have,” she said.
Being a woman online is not easy, especially when your opinions are “unpopular” among the public. Pinoy Ako Blog’s Jover Laurio, however, pushed past the nasty comments and threats online to continue debunking “fake news.” While she considered stopping her blog, she realized that her advocacy is relevant now more than ever. “I knew the situation can help the advocacy and can help put out the message about fake news – that we do not tolerate it and that it is not who we are,” she said. Now, Laurio is taking the fight offline. She is currently conducting workshops on how to fight fake news and how to blog responsibly.
Courage is about living out your authentic self despite societal perceptions and stereotypes.
Blu Pingoy was destined for greatness in the medical field. She’s smart, most likely inherited from her parents and grandparents who are also doctors. However, her sights were set outside the hospital and up in the clouds. She wanted to be a pilot. “I usually don’t care about what other people say but the opinion of my family is really important to me so it was difficult for me to tell my parents,” she said. Nevertheless, upon the advice of her uncle who is both a doctor and a pilot, she mustered up the courage to talk to her parents that she will pursue a career in aviation. Now, she is one of the few women commercial pilots and one of the youngest in the country.
Hair is considered a girl’s crowning glory but TV host/singer Abby Asistio lost hers when she was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata at 4 years old. For years, her unique condition became a source of insecurity and negativity. Even when she started wearing wigs, she did not see herself as a beautiful person and felt limited in the activities that she could do. While she feared coming out to the public bald, she knew that taking off her wig was necessary to finally accept her situation and bring awareness to a disease that few Filipinos know about. “Hindi ko na mababago ‘yung kawalan ko ng buhok, pero mababago ko kung paano ko titingnan ang ang self-worth ko, (I may not be able the fact that I don’t have hair, but I can change how I view my self-worth)” she said.
Paving one’s path and sustaining success means resourcefulness at its best.
Kathleen Yu is the founder (at age 22) of Rumarocket, a Manila-based tech start-up that uses assessments and predictive analytics to help companies find and develop their IT talents. The profitable company is now operating in two other countries: Hong Kong and Singapore. Being a 2017 Mansmith Young Market Masters Awardee and one of the talents chosen for the Global Start-Up Youth program, it’s safe to say that Yu has reached success. For the 26-year-old tech entrepreneur, though, achieving success is much like technology — constantly changing at a rapid pace. “It’s no longer enough just to go to a good college, get a good degree, find a good job, and basically find work you love. Right now, success is less about following rules and more about knowing how to embrace change, knowing how to evolve with times, and knowing how to develop new skills to get better,” she said.
Menstruation and the reproductive system are not often talked about in a still fairly conservative country like the Philippines. As Audrey Tangonan, founder of menstrual cup brand Sinaya Cup, put it, “This is a weird thought and a weird conversation.” Her involvement in youth and sustainability programs, however, inspired her to pursue a “crazy” yet environmentally-friendly idea of a menstrual cup with her own savings. “You can never go wrong with a business idea that genuinely improves people’s lives in ways you feel passionately about,” she said.
Featured Images from Belle De Jour Power Planner
Angela Casco is a (fresh) Journalism graduate at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and currently a fulltime writer for MB Life. Her interests range from beauty and fashion to (winter) sports and literature. Feminism and fighting sexual abuse are causes close to her heart. She hopes to witness gender equity in her lifetime.