Pinay & Proud celebrates the modern-day Filipina

Who or what is a modern-day Filipina?

I am a Filipina and yet it is so difficult to quite put into words what the Filipina of today really is because she is many things. We see her in our female overseas foreign workers in all corners of the world, working as nannies, teachers, scientists, physical therapists, factory workers and even executives. We see her as an advocate, an artist, a mother, a social worker. The Filipina is in her elements in the 21st century.

Human Nature, in an effort to showcase the different facets of today’s Filipina, came up with the Pinay & Proud campaign to give tribute to the uniqueness of the Filipina woman.

They identified 4 traits that embody the Filipina:

1. Nurturing – one who encourages others to reach the full potential of their God-given talents

2. Courageous – one whose inner strength goes beyond selflessness and enables her to make sacrifices for family and country

3. Inspiring – a role model

4. Beautiful – not just outside but inside as well and who shines her light on everything and everyone around her

The result of the Pinay & Proud campaign was a roster of 15 outstanding women who have shown these 4 traits. The 15 women chosen came from different backgrounds (and ages). They had different skills, causes and goals. But they were all proud to be a Filipina.

But beyond just showcasing these admirable women, I think the message that we should all be taking in here is this: Every Filipina has the capacity to be like them. EVERY FILIPINA. No matter what age we’re at, it’s never too late to give of ourselves for others. These women never went out seeking recognition or reward. They just went out and did it when they discovered the need. We, too, just need to become sensitive to our surroundings because where we’re needed may be just there. We just are not SEEING.

From June 26 to August 5, 2012, the portraits of these 15 Filipinas will be found in different mall exhibits throughout the Metro. Try to catch it when you go shopping. The mall exhibits are:

Powerplant, Rockwell (June 26-30)
Trinoma Mall (July 2-8)
Shangri-la Mall (July 9-15)
Greenbelt 5 Mall (July 16-22)
Eastwood Mall (july 23-29)
Alabang Town Center (July 30-Aug 5)

But even before then, meet them here. I will not be able to aptly describe all their accomplishments and dreams so I am using the captions provided by Human Nature.



Bai Linda Eman (The Peace-builder)

Many people get stunned upon learning that Bail Linda Eman, now the Gawad Kalinga Regional Coordinator for Southern Luzon and Muslim Affairs Coordinator was formerly an MILF Commander. A painful childhood encounter led her to believe the war between Christians and Muslims would never cease. However, through her courage and immense love for country, she was able to overcome her pain and become an instrument of peace.

“My dream is to walk anywhere with my hijam, without being judged as a terrorist; to show to the world that I am a Muslim-Filipina. I can help anyone, I’m free to walk and I can be a friend to anyone. I can love any person in the Philippines; they will accept me who I am, being a Muslim-Filipino.”

Maricel Valderama (The Tireless Provider)

If the value of living a life for your children could be embodied, it would be through Maricel. Simple though she may be, her life revolves around providing her family with only the best that she can give them. Despite hardships, challenges and difficulties encountered, the fire within her to be a mother and role model to her children will never cease to burn.

“Gagawin [ng Pilipina] ang lahat ng mga bagay para sa pamilya niya. Kahit na napapagod na siya, hindi pa rin niya iindahin kasi nandiyan pa rin yung inspirasyon niya”.


Rose Cabrera (The Homecoming Patriot)

Rose was well on her way to becoming the first Filipina judge in the USA when she felt God’s gentle nudge to share her blessings and help uplift fellow Filipinos from poverty. She sold her Mercedes, left her lucrative career and took on the leadership of Gawad Kalinga USA instead. With her husband, she then built GK Cambodia, one of the first overseas GK communities. She has since come home to the Philippines and helped start GKonomics, turning her back on a life of plenty for herself to bring hope and plenty to thousands of poor Filipinos instead.

“My dream for the Philippines is for us to be a light to the world and be able to show them how simple caring can bring them out of poverty.”

Isabel Cuevas-Santos (The Wounded Healer)

After witnessing the murder of her father at 13 years old, a traumatized Issa grew up with questions in her heart and deep-seated anger against the world. It was only upon entering Gawad Kalinga years later that she learned how to heal, forgive and live again. Now a full-time GK employee, Issa says it’s in the very fabric of our Filipino humanity simply, love… and be loved in return.

“Many of the things we stand for in Gawad Kalinga are Filipino values like bayanihan, things that are very uniquely us. And that’s what I love. We were born with the DNA of a good heart and that has always come across, because it was born from a very Filipino spirit.

I’m proud to know that when things get tough – even in the life of our country, in the toughest of times – it was always a woman that needed to come forward and really bring our country forward. I love being Filipina.”

Xilca Alvarez-Protacio (Defender of the Poor)

It wasn’t an easy decision for Xilca to give up her role as a lawyer to become a full-time social entrepreneur, but the calling to help provide jobs to unemployed youths was impossible to ignore. Now the founder of Gourmet Keso and Café de Sug Sulu Coffee, she’s found fulfillment in her job by helping communities in need, in ways she never did before.

“My dream for the communities I help, for instance, the community in Sulu – is for them to be able to dream. And to dream for something other than living in a war-torn society. To dream of a Philippines that they really belong to that they really enjoy.

I think what’s unique to the Filipina is that she’s one person who has balls meaning you have this Filipina, this woman who can take on everything, even a male’s job and still have the love, compassion, care and understanding, that’s enigmatic to a Filipina.”


Lisa Macuja-Elizalde (The Devoted Dancer)

Perhaps one of the most recognizable faces in the country in the world of ballet is that of the graceful Lisa Macuja-Elizalde whose extreme talent and perfect ballet movements shot her to global acclaim. Today, with a heart burning with love for the craft, Lisa’s efforts are now to serve her country and countrymen, this time, by bringing ballet to the Filipino masses.

“Filipinas have an innate sense of musicality and artistry, and they are very, very emotional. A lot of Filipinos, they perform as if it’s the last performance of their life… and that really adds a lot of magic to the performance.”


Eugene Domingo (The Joyful Artist)

You see her face, you recognize the name, but what you don’t know is that Eugene’s passion for the arts goes beyond giving you an exceptional movie experience with her hilarious antics. Pride for both her craft and Filipino roots are the fuel to doing her best and making a mark in the local and international filmmaking scene. With numerous awards and honors under her belt, that’s just the beginning of Act 1. Eugene is full speed ahead and making a name for the Philippines, one comedy at a time.

“Even if you are not famous or even if you are not an actor, wherever you go, you should be giving a good picture of how a Filipino should look like, be proud of where you came from.”

Akiko Thomson-Guevara (Heart of a Champion)

Known for her powerful kicks and flawless strokes, Southeast Asian Games and Olympic medalist Akiko Thomson-Guevara has brought much pride to the country. Despite not having a drop of Filipino blood in her (she is actually half Japanese and half American, and was naturalized as a Filipina citizen by the age of 12), her love for the Philippines is what drives her to be the best, making her a true Filipina at heart.

“I don’t have Filipino blood, my father was American, my mother is Japanese and we moved to the Philippines when I was six months old and I was naturalized a Filipino for sporting reasons by presidential decree and I feel like I’m an adopted Filipino and although I have no blood, my heart is Filipino… I feel most Filipino…

When I think of Filipina women, they’re strong and very resilient. I’d like to think that I am too. And that’s what kept me in the sport as long as I was.”

Rachel Grant (The Compassionate Beauty)

British-Filipina Bond girl, fearless international adventurer, actress, martial arts enthusiast and avid humanitarian. Most people associate these glamorous words with Rachel Grant. What many don’t realize is that this beauty has an overwhelming love for the poor, and together with her mom, run the Padua Charitable Fund to give help and hope to Filipinos in need.

“To see lives of my fellow Filipinos change is so rewarding and it gives me so much happiness. I will continue to do that for the rest of my life. I know that for sure.

Filipina women are very caring…it’s nice to be able to touch other people’s live with that quality, and I’ve seen Filipino women do that. To me that’s very precious and special, and I hold that very close to my heart.”

Noreen Bautista (Young Innovator)

“Life is so short, and if you have the opportunity to create change, why wait?” These very words pushed Noreen to pursue her dream and co-found Jacinto & Lirio. A social enterprise creating high-fashion bags made from water hyacinth leather, it empowers community partners all across the Philippines through sustainable livelihood.

“I wanted to really do something for the Philippines… I was a business major, but I was always thinking: in what way could I really contribute with this background in business but also change the country? Social entrepreneurship was really the bull’s eye.

[Filipinas are] so creative and we’re so resourceful that we could really create amazing products for enterprises that will eventually help our country.”



Maria Montelibano (The Herald of Good News)

From arranging Cory Aquino’s famous speech at the US Congress in 1986 to handling Gawad Kalinga’s communications, perfectionism, a meticulous eye for detail and the drive for nothing less than excellence have always propelled Maria forward. This sought-after TV, radio, film stage and events producer and director turned her back on running political campaigns, giving up a much more lucrative and financially-rewarding path to instead serve Gawad Kalinga almost a decade ago. Her self-sacrifice and infectious, unquenchable passion for nation building has been a beacon of inspiration for countless thousands of Filipinos volunteering for GK.

“I dream of a Philippines where poverty is rooted out, where corruption is finally dismantled, where dignity is returned and the Filipino stands proud before the world, where honesty is the dominant virtue, where justice is a constant reality, where dreams can come true because there is opportunity for all.

Long before the word multi-tasking was the operative word for the youth today, the Filipina had already been one. She is mother, she is partner, she is martyr, she is provider, she’s also the nurturer of every home they make.”

Cheche Lazaro (Pillar of Integrity)

You’ve seen her on TV, in the news, on the quest to uncover the next big truth. Chche Lazaro has become an institution in the field of Philippine broadcast journalism for her unwavering integrity and her fearless exposés on the hard realities in society. She believed her job meant more than finding a “good” story, it meant giving the Filipino the truth the way it should be – unbiased and honest.

“I am so convinced that the Filipino is excellent. I have seen many, many examples of heroism, of nationalism, of love of country, of loving families which is essentially at the very root of what it means to be a person, and in a larger scale, to be a Filipino.”

The Filipino is empathetic. When they sing a song, everybody says, there is something unique about the way Filipino sings a song, when they dance, there is something unique about the way Filipino expresses himself. What is that uniqueness? The uniqueness is that we feel it, we’re not only technically good, we feel what we are doing and that permeates everything that we do.”


Aliah Dimaporo (Trailblazing Leader)

Why would a successful New York-based Executive Director of the World Youth Alliance want to move back to the Philippines? Aliah Dimaporo, Congresswoman of the 2nd district of Lanao del Norte, shows us that going back to her Maranao roots (of which she has royal blood) fueled her return to her motherland to serve both the country and her countrymen.

“At that time, I was Executive Director of the World Youth Alliance Foundation, and they were more than willing to sponsor my green card. And I just said, “I can’t. I have to go back to the Philippines and do my part. I’ve been championing the dignity of the person for other countries. This is an opportunity for me to directly champion the dignity of the Filipino.

Resilience is the perfect word to describe a Filipina. We’ve seen this among mothers and women who are rebuilding their communities after Typhoon Sendong or Typhoon Ondoy… we see this in our daily lives where the modern Filipina is caring for her family and at the same time working.”


Ditsi Carolino (Hope of the Forgotten)

One of the most powerful instruments in the world is the camera; it can bring you to tears, make you laugh with joy, even move you to become a believer. This is why filmmaker Ditsi chose the camera as her weapon of choice in fighting for the human rights of the Filipino. Ditsi uses the power of film to show what’s not usually seen, expose truths that are kept hidden and fight tirelessly for what’s right.

“I think it’s our exposure here in a country where so much struggle still happens…even if we have so many problems that we face, we just have this really unique way of celebrating life. It’s this really interesting combination of social problems and the way the Pinoy spirit just shines through despite all of that.”

Anna Oposa (Ambassador of the Seas)

Can you ever be too young to make a difference in the world? 24 year-old Anna proves that age is but a number when it comes to pursuing your passion and the advocacy closest to your heart. In her case, it would be the Philippine seas. No, it’s not about being noble or gallant. For Anna, it was always the most natural thing to care for something she loved dearly. In our eyes, that makes her a hero in every way.

“One of the greatest compliments I ever got was [when] I was in Japan and I had just given a presentation about the Philippine waste management, and one Singaporean went up to me after and said, “You know, you make me wish I was a Filipino.” And I ended up crying because I was so moved.

The Filipina is always the life of the party; we’re always the ones singing, we’re always the ones getting people to go to the dance floor. I think it’s really in our culture to be very affectionate and very happy and very humorous.”




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  1. With a development road map in the Philippines, GK seeks to create successful development templates that can be replicated in other developing countries, helping to create a world free from poverty.

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