10 Filipino Women Who Inspired the Philippines and the World

Written by: Kiana Palacios

“Eh kasi babae.”

When did being a woman ever start becoming synonymous to being weak? This women’s month, we are celebrating Filipino women who excelled despite the constant gender-based stereotypes being thrown to females. Not strong enough? Not competitive enough? Not quite. Here are 10 Filipino women who showed the world what “being female” really means.

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10. Aisa Mijeno

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SALt or The Sustainable Alternative Lighting Lamp is a saltwater generated light source. Mijeno found the inspiration to this project through an immersion trip to a remote community in Kalinga. It wasn’t an easy task, though. She went through several attempts before she made her dream to help the lives of Filipinos who live under the hazard of kerosene lamps a reality. 

9. Isabel Sieh

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At a young age of 10, Isabel learned how to use HTML and JavaScript simply through online classes. She’s worked with tutors and her family who saw how much she wanted to learn about this field. At 14-years-old, her project Girls Will Code was born, in an attempt to teach Filipino kids to code and use these skills to create and make better technological solutions. Isabel even visits different public schools and teaches kids herself! How great is that?

8. Andreia Carrillo

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There aren’t a lot of Filipinos involved in the field of astronomy, even more Filipinas. But Carrillo is proving to everyone that math and science hold no limits as one of the only Filipina astrophysicists. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan for astronomy, astrophysics, and interdisciplinary physics. She is currently studying for her Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Texas.

7. Pia Cayetano

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Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710), Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028), and the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (RA 10152), are just some of the significant contributions of former Senator Pia Cayetano. As a senator for two terms, Cayetano advocated for laws to be passed that benefited women, given the discrimination and unfair treatment that has continuously been plaguing women in this country. 

6. Hidilyn Diaz

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Being in a sport usually dubbed as “for males”, it was already a surprise that the category was opened for women. But when it was, Diaz did not disappoint. Diaz has been competing in the summer games since 2008, but it was in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when she bagged the silver medal for the 53-kg division for the women’s weightlifting event, a significant milestone for women, the sport, and the Filipinos.

5. Dr. Mikaela Fudolig

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The youngest to ever graduate Summa Cum Laude with a general weighted average of 1.099 from the University of Philippines, Dr. Fudolig finished her undergraduate degree in physics at only 16-years-old. She completed her doctorate degree in 2014 and passed the University of the Philippines College of Law Entrance Examination in 2017. Truly, intelligence goes a long way when used to its fullest power.

4. Maria Fe Perez-Agudo

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“You are a woman. What do you know about cars?” Living into that stereotype of how women aren’t meant to be knowledgeable about  things that have been deemed a “guy’s thing”, Maria Fe Perez-Agudo has been proving the world wrong as the President and CEO of Hyundai Philippines. Perez-Agudo is the very manifestation of when you want something, you fight for it. 

3. Gini Santos

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Toy Story 2, Up, Coco. These are just some of the Disney Pixar films that have touched the hearts of many, and continue to do so up to this very day. Coincidentally, the animator behind all these films is a Filipina. She is the first female supervising animator at Disney-Pixar with around twenty years of experience with the said company.

2. Socorro Ramos

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It is no doubt that National Bookstore has been a part of every Filipino’s life. With over 200 branches across the Philippines, the once small school supplies store has grown greatly and is now the leading bookseller in the country. Dubbed as Nanay Coring, this founder of National Bookstore hopes to continuously impart entrepreneurial wisdom to Filipinos determined to succeed. Despite her age of 95, nothing is stopping Nanay Coring from continuing to make National Bookstore even better for the future generations to come.

1. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

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It was September 2016 when the former senator passed away due to lung cancer. But despite the great sadness this brought among the Filipino people, her contributions to the Philippine community will always be remembered. She embodied in her the true meaning of wit, courage, and bravery, especially after her diagnosis. Indeed, her legacy will continue to inspire succeeding Filipino generations.

These 10 women have continuously proven themselves and their peers they’re more than just second-best to men. They serve as an inspiration to all of us, that all is not lost, and that women are really taking the wheel, slowly but surely.

Have any inspiring women you know of? Share their stories in the comments down below!