This month, we showcased awesome Filipinas in line with holidays celebrated in August. From indigenous women and young girls to humanitarians and local heroes, we found pride and inspiration in these women and their love for their tribe, community, and country. They truly understood that strength lies in compassion for others and overcoming obstacles as women.
Almost 4 years ago the Lumads, an indigenous group based in Mindanao, frontlined the PH news when their leaders were killed during an encounter with some military forces under the operation Oplan Bayanihan. Amidst the noise of it all, a young woman stood strong in defending her fellow Lumads from continuous attempts at displacing their community from their ancestral land. Michelle Campos, then 17, is the eldest daughter of one of the slain Mapasu Lumad leaders named Daniel Campos. For Michelle, pursuing her education and excelling in her studies will aid her in bettering the Lumad community. The Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development or Alcadev, a project put up by the Lumads themselves with the financial aid and support of religious and international groups, helped Michelle and other young Lumads achieve their education. Inspired by her father’s passion in securing the group’s future, Michelle remains vocal about her stand against paramilitary forces and mining operations sparking war in Lumad land. The problem indigenous peoples experience mostly involve being displaced from their homes. Meanwhile, only a few humanitarian and religious groups offer support and sustenance to IPs. In the guise of development, the security and safety of IPs continue to be a major concern. Michelle Campos demonstrated fearlessness in fighting for the Lumads’ rights as she addresses then President Noynoy Aquino on his Oplan Bayanihan project.
Video Credit: youtube.com/user/indayevarona
Audrey Pe is the executive director and founder of WiTech, a community organization that “aims to inspire women from all around the world to pursue careers in tech, and use their abilities to make a difference in society.” She founded her organization in 2016 when she realized the huge gender gap in the field of technology. In the Philippines, only 18% of startup founders are women, only 27-47% of tech workers in the world are female, and they are paid about 18-22% less than their male counterparts. The gender gap motivated Audrey to interview women who work in the male-dominated field and to write articles about their journey in hopes of inspiring other women to pursue a career in technology. Through WiTech, she and her team wants “to achieve gender equality in the tech industry through increased networking opportunities and mentors for young women interested in entering the tech industry.” Since 2016, WiTech has organized 6 events including the Women in Technology Conference (WiTCon), which was open to all genders. It was a one-day event for high school and college students and educators that highlighted the achievements of Filipinas in the industry. Speakers were invited to share their experiences while workshops gave attendees a chance to see what the field of tech has to offer. According to WiTech’s website, “WiTCon doesn’t just aim to break glass ceilings, but instead transform the field of tech.”
WiTCon 2019: Building the Future
With young women like Audrey Pe who do what they can to inspire change, there’s no doubt in our minds that we will see more Filipinas in the tech industry in the years to come.
Best known for her stint as Project Manager for TUKLAS Innovation Labs in CARE Philippines, Francelline Jimenez earned her degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2004. One of her most recent projects include the START Anticipation Action for Lahar Risks in partnership with Christian Aid. Said project concentrated on communities near Mt. Mayon where they developed early warning systems and other contingency plans to minimize potential risks of lahar flow to the habitants. Lahar is a term for volcanic mudflow which can flow like wet concrete and can occur with or without a volcanic eruption.
TUKLAS Innovation Labs
What’s important about this initiative is that risks related to lahar flows is different than our usual typhoons or floods. With over 20 active volcanoes in the Philippines spread from Luzon to Mindanao, disaster risk reduction on any volcanic hazards remain both a challenge and a necessary field to explore. Francelline started her career in 2012 as a Development Officer for a year of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. Then, she facilitated various projects for the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, with a focus on the Children and Youth forum. In Q2 2015 onwards, she also held back-to-back long-term positions in PYXERA Global and MDRRMO, with her heart for development work still centered on the youth and the environment.
Francelline is truly an inspiration to many more Filpinas to follow our passion and make our time worthwhile by pursuing work that ignites our passion-whatever that may be.
Magdalena Leones was born in Kalinga in northern Luzon. She originally planned to be a nun, but the war against the Japanese during World War II led her to a different path. She started out as a translator between American soldiers and Ilocano and Kalinga speakers when the former had to retreat to her hometown after the Japanese occupied Baguio City. When she was captured after the fall of Corregidor in 1942, her work as an intelligence officer for the US military began. After her release from prison, she joined the Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) as a special agent. Her main role was to gather and smuggle radio parts that allowed soldiers to remain in contact with General MacArthur. She also delivered medical supplies and collected intelligence information while traveling across Luzon. Because of her bravery, Magdalena Leones became the first Filipina to be awarded a Silver Star by the US government. She was recognized for her work as an intelligence officer during World War II.
These Filipinas show us that we can be heroes in our own way-their dedication to the causes that they support inspire us to continue fighting for ours, too. Let's continue to build a society that enables women to be leaders and gamechangers!