Happy National Women’s Month! We’re capping off this month by celebrating and learning from some of the most inspiring Filipino women who have made their voices heard in various fields and industries. These Pinays have brought pride to the Philippines, broken stereotypes and glass ceilings, and impacted the lives of so many at the same time.
We know this list can be endless; so, we’ll be expecting some of you to drop some names of Filipino women you’ve been inspired by, too. The comment section will be waiting! But for now, let’s celebrate the following modern Pinays and take in all the lessons we can learn from them.
5 Inspiring Pinays and the lessons we can learn from them
A hero of our childhood, Angel Locsin has long inspired us to break barriers through her bad-ass roles in teleseryes. But in recent years, our Darna has flown greater heights, even landing a spot in Forbes’ Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy in 2019.
In response to the recognition, Angel tweeted, “I’m nowhere near from being a billionaire, but I try my best to do my part in my own little way. I hope this would inspire other people to help as well.”
During COVID-19, Angel started a relief campaign to donate isolation and sanitation tents to overcrowded hospitals. Through this, her team was quickly able to raise over ₱11 million and help 135 hospitals with a donation of 246 tents.
In 2008, Felicitas “Joji” Pantoja and her husband founded Coffee for Peace, Inc. (CFP) with a vision to promote peace and restoration among farmers and landowners through cups of coffee. Years later, the enterprise is now providing sustainable livelihood to over 880 small farmers in Mindanao.
In September 2020, Joji won the “Nobel Prize of Business” for “ethically creating economic value that also creates value for society.” Beyond running CFP as the CEO, Joji continues to impact the community through mentorship.
“As a woman entrepreneur who started late in life (age 46) in the Philippines, I know that I have to make an exit plan and mentor the younger generation to continue the advocacy,” she wrote.
Joji now mentors a group of potential leaders from indigenous communities, including three young ladies. “These three women know how it is to be marginalised as a people group and how it is to be neglected by government. It is from this experience that they are effective leaders. They have been through it,” Joji added.
For Filipinos, it’s mandatory to know Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao. He is, after all, a legendary boxer — one of the greatest of all time! Clearly, he isn’t the only Filipino who’s good at boxing; and definitely, he isn’t the only one we have to know about.
Meet Irish Magno, a 30-year-old Pinay amateur boxer. At 16, she developed an interest in boxing when she passed by a group of athletes training in a town plaza in Iloilo. At 28, she became the first female boxer to qualify for the Olympics.
On how she achieved this dream, Irish told GMA News, “If it’s for you, it’s for you. But of course you need to put yourself in it, the work and the discipline. We can achieve all of that, especially since everyone dreams of the Olympics.”
Beyond the ring, Irish inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves. At the heat of the pandemic, she distributed rice to help out poor residents of Baguio City. A month early into the lockdown, she, with the help of donors, was able to raise a humble ₱3,000 to help 33 families.
Jenny Anne Barretto
Science has no gender — we have women to prove it. Take for example Jenny Anne Barretto, a Pinay geologist and geophysicist. In 2019, she discovered Apolaki, the world’s largest caldera, in Benham Rise. Just recently, the House Committee on Science and Technology approved a resolution to recognise her “extraordinary contribution to scientific research”.
In an interview, Jenny reiterated how Filipinos can be proud of this discovery. “It’s significant because we pride ourselves on holding records for almost anything,” she said. “Being able to recognise the largest caldera ever on earth — and it’s just in our backyard — (is) something significant. It’s something to be proud of.”
Although she is currently based in New Zealand, Jenny was born and raised in the Philippines. No wonder she understands the concept of Pinoy pride — even from far away!
Over the years, NASA has improved its diversity and inclusivity policies; but as of 2020, women only make up 30% of the workforce. Josephine Santiago-Bond, Head of the Advanced Engineering Development Branch in NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, is one of them.
A Filipino-American engineer, Josephine was born in the US but raised in the Philippines. At 12, she was qualified to be a scholar of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS). Upon graduation, she pursued Electronics & Communications Engineering at the University of the Philippines.
“I have experienced first-hand how an impressionable child can grow to love science and engineering by simply being exposed to it,” Josephine shared in her Women@NASA testimonial. Her educational exposures helped her decide to pursue the male-dominated field of engineering.
“I believe that encouragement to pursue these careers from family and other institutions go a long way, and so does awareness of one’s capabilities and potential,” she added. “I believe in giving back to the society that helped shape me, and the ways that I’ve been able to give back by doing my assigned tasks the best way I can, and by participating in education and outreach activities.”
Happy National Women’s Month!
While National Women’s Month is a great reminder of the strength and influence women have on the world, these Pinays inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves, at any time of the year.
Also read: I Travel Like a Girl, and I’m Proud of It
Who’s the most inspiring woman for you? Let us know in the comments!