Written by: Mark Lyster Carlota
In the wake of the traces of archaic sexual prejudice and dated gender inequality which still linger today, the women of our world have time and again shown that their merit need not be proven as the monoliths that they make and the boundaries that they break in their work tend to speak for themselves. For this, the Filipina are not an exception.
In celebration of the Philippine National Women’s Month and the 2021 International Women’s Day worldwide last March 8, The Playhouse Project (TPP) spearheaded “Women in Charity: More than What Meets the Eye” last March 20 & 21. The two-day event was a celebration of the charitable Filipina and was an act of charity in itself as it sought to honor and recognize the women of our country who have endeavored to help those in need and simultaneously to raise funds for TPP’s “Hiraya: For The People” project, an initiative aiming to provide food and health kits to families in Davao City.
Women In Charity was a melting pot of empowered Filipinas flourishing in their respective fields who have used their platforms and resources to not only help the less fortunate through philanthropy but to enjoin others, especially the youth, to enact change by acknowledging the shared social responsibility of all.
Here are the women who are ‘more than what meets the eye’ who graced the occasion and enlightened viewers through honest sharing of their experiences with their own advocacies on how they, too, can take their ideas from the drawing board into action from the other side of the screen:
Ms. Aimee Hashim, RN – Apart from being the CEO and Founder of LOVELUXE®, a digital content creator, and a contributor for fashion magazines, Ms. Aimee is also an avid mental health awareness advocate. In her talk about “Building Compassion”, she emphasized on normalizing vulnerability and how hardship is often a preface to compassion and realizing our responsibility to help others. She was not shy to shed light on the topic of mental health and not only its pitfalls, but more importantly how one can bounce back by seeking help.
Ms. Kaye Alquiza – Ms. Kaye is the co-founder of Angels Today, an organization gathering individuals and groups to provide socio-civic aid to those in need via passion-driven programs. Ms. Kaye underscored the values of care, collaborate or co-LOVE-orate, and carrying on in what she heartily dubs as the “3C’s of Charity”. A point of emphasis in Ms. Alquiza’s talk on “Empowering Youth in Charity” was the importance of embracing fear and its role in pushing us out of our comfort zones to help others and to answer the call of God.
Rep. Sarah Elago – The first female representative of the youth party-list KABATAAN and a pioneer in the formation of the Rise for Education (R4E) Alliance, Rep. Sarah Elago is the Philippines’ youngest female legislator in Congress at 31 having forayed into the House of Representatives for her first term last 2016 at just 26 years old. Highlighted in Rep. Sarah’s talk on “Turning Intentions into Actions” was the sheer brevity of the youth’s voice and just how much it can impact the way we live in society. Her talk was a prod to the youth to continue to brave the challenges of today by speaking up on relevant issues in order to help others.
Ms. Louise Mabulo – At 22 years old, Ms. Louise Mabulo is a chef, famer, entrepreneur, global youth leader, and founder of her own initiative “The Cacao Project” which positions farmers from San Fernando, Pampanga for sustainable success by providing both short- and long-term climate-smart solutions. Ms. Louise’s heart for the environment was well-reflected in her “Advocacy Space” talk where she imparted advocacies of her own which mostly center around the appreciation for Philippine agriculture, the Filipino farmers, and their struggles. She sought to question the harmful dogmas surrounding not only agriculture, but as well as inherently attached gender roles in hopes of reminding people of the paramount part that women and farmers play in shaping our society and economy.
Ms. Richelle Balbieran – To help address the alarming burnout among our pandemic frontliners, the Balbieran family initiated the project “COVID Backliners” as a means to provide basic support towards our countrymen in the frontlines of our grapple with COVID-19. Ms. Richelle, an experienced Senior International Trade Research Specialist, used her eCommerce and economics expertise to run the said initiative along with her family. A key point in her “Advocacy Space” talk is the power of our individual connectivity––how each and every one of us is a network that, when working together, can achieve amazing things and serve as a light for other people.
Ms. Ayn Bernos – Looking to challenge the ingrained culture of colorism in the Philippines with her own fashion line serving the very purpose is content creator, entrepreneur, and proud morena behind “Morena The Label” Ms. Ayn Bernos. Visibility was the main talking point of Ms. Ayn’s talk on “The Ripple Effect” and how more often than not, it is only in seeing first ourselves can we then begin to see the needs of others. She imparted how confidence, authenticity, and representation greatly augment the extent to which one simple act of kindness can go.
Her Excellency Maria Leonor Robredo – The Vice President of the Philippines, or more fondly referred to as “VP Leni” is known for many things, and being a champion for and testament to women empowerment is but one among them. VP Leni tipped her hat to the organizers and the event itself, alluding to the shift in status quo as seen in the increased presence of women philanthropists over the years. According to her: “The fact that we are celebrating female philanthropists show how far we have come.” The key in charity, according to VP Leni, is active listening towards those whom we want to help along with recognizing our own individual capacities. In addressing the youth, she said: “You are more than just young people. You are Filipinos and human beings each endowed with the capacity to uplift others.”
Truly, despite only being able to communicate from the other side of the screen, these incredible women have showcased what it’s like to be a woman in charity and have paved the way for others who wish to be the same. Though, a word of caution: these seven females only represent a mere handful of the millions of empowered Filipinas all over the country and all around the globe, so there’s just no telling how much more of women like the abovementioned there are today and just how much more empowered Filipinas and their ripples of positive change we’ll get to see in our lifetime.
But if there’s one thing TPP’s Women In Charity: More Than What Meets the Eye teaches us, it’s that we best prepare ourselves because they aren’t going to be stopping anytime soon.