7. Myrna Padilla of OFW Watch
“Your path to financial freedom is a heroic one. I know from personal experience the ugly face of poverty. Poverty is the cruelest of all masters. I learned that not every dive is successful. Sometimes I fail. And I learned that the secret to success: never give up…As you pursue your dream to achieve financial freedom, expect to make sacrifices. You are not alone… Nothing is impossible when you believe in yourself. Combine that belief with hard work and nothing will be impossible. When you succeed, you are part of something bigger than yourself.”
Former domestic helper turned BPO IT mogul, Myrna Padilla exemplified the hardcore meaning of rags to riches. She showed this very poignant old photo of her as little girl using a makeshift dress sewn out of flour sacks by her mother.
At age 9, she was diving in the open sea to feed her family. Later on, she worked as a domestic helper, a painful experience which had her leaving her family behind for 20 years. A boy named Jonathan in Hongkong introduced her to the world of computers and this paved the way to her success in creating jobs for Filipinos. The industry is predicted to provide 1.3 million jobs in the near future. For her, it meant that 1.3 million people need not leave this country to make a living.
8. Salve Duplito
“The best kind of empowerment for women is economic empowerment… We are all powerful. We are so much more than our roles.”
From humble beginnings of selling peanuts during elementary school days for her baon to being looked down upon by her well-off classmates in the University of Bicol, Salve Duplito is now known for being a permanent financial advisor for ANC channel’s “On the Money” TV show. The lovely Bicolana shared practical tips for the bellas to help them manage their finances properly.
9. Myrza Sison
“It is the desire to help the Cosmo reader make life decisions that allows me to handle the gargantuan task… The Pinay needed a handbook in life. And Cosmo was it. Why be afraid? Sometimes, courage can just mean showing up. You need the courage to transform yourself. It’s good to evolve inside and out… Bank on-even milk- your assets.”
Summit Media Editorial Director Myrza Sison narrated her impressive feat of stepping out of her Statistics degree from UP and a few years of modeling career to dive head-on as Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Philippines. She overcame what she called as the “poser complex” which stemmed from her former insecurity that she did not have a journalism degree. A Palanca awardee in 2006, the svelte, successful, and glamorous print media queen is a living example of transforming from a high school invisible girl to a fun and fearless woman.
10. Cong. Leni Robredo
After passing the bar exam during her 2nd take:
“Utang ko itong regalong ito, kaya ibabalik ko ito sa serbisyo.”
Election season is on the upswing, but this did not stop Cong. Leni Robredo from imparting her inspirational story for the bellas through a poignant video message. She narrated her struggle on taking the bar exam twice and juggling the responsibilities of achieving her own personal milestones, being a mother of four, being a lawyer, and being a wife of a public servant before she became a public figure herself. Her down-to-earth nature and sincerity won the hearts of the bellas. She clearly wins at life and lives to tell the tale.
11. Dr. Penny Robredo-Bundoc
“Whatever your body can do is not half as important as what you can do.”
The youngest among the Robredo siblings, Dr. Penny Robredo-Bundoc spent her time narrating the traits of courage that their parents imparted to them. This served as a guiding light for her, her brother Jesse, and their 3 other siblings.
12. Susan Afan
“It is only by being together that we can make this country into a country that we deserve… Goodness is inherent in us. We are not just inspired by very famous people but we are also inspired by those who are close to us… We cannot live in a vacuum. Passion is not an event, it’s a process.”
Susan Afan is now heading operations for the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation. But before this, few people would know that she spent 30 years in the US as a career coach. She left the supposed greener pastures of the foreign country to go back and serve, narrating that a sense of purpose and accountability to God led her to make this very unusual but admirable decision. She swears that any single Bantay Bata phone call from a real child abuse victim is a life-changing experience.
13. Jen Santos
“The path to service is different for different people. There is no small or insignificant work… Invest on dreams and let the future generations reap the rewards. When you invest in dreams, you never lose.”
A very emotional Jen Santos conveyed to the bellas her love for what she does for communities in the Philippines in a way that only a woman can. She introduced their marketing efforts for G-Stuff, a store that has organic products with stories from their communities they have assisted in places like Ugong Rock in Palawan, Batangas, Brooke’s Point in Palawan, and Mindoro.
The turnout of women in the event showed a diverse set of bellas coming from all walks of life and doing all sorts of different things.
I observed that these bellas are living proof that a strong sense of purpose and kindness can still be found by their example.
When my friend and photographer Leigh did not have a proper place to sit, my seatmates gladly freed up a spot for her so that we can take decent photos.
Also highly commendable were the volunteers who signed up to assist in registration, manning the booths, and handing out the goody bags.
More than being Bellas who commonly own a leather planner, they are now a collective movement of bright minds who can make positive change through the ripple effect of women helping women.
It’s more than just a planner; it’s a way of life.
Belle de Jour Power Planner