Review and extrapolative commentary: Beebe, Maria Africa, and Escudero, Maya Ong, co-editors,
Disrupt. Filipina Women: Proud, Loud, Leading without a Doubt. The First Book on Leadership by the Filipina Women's Network. San Francisco: Filipina Women's Network, 2015, 754 pp.
The following is not a standardized book review. As I read biography after biography, a longed-for hope began to unfold. That is, are young women of the Philippines being equipped and stepping forth to challenge mainly males (those who have dominated leadership in world affairs, displayed greed, sought political power, and controlled the marketplace), to accept alternatives to domination and empire? With discoveries in DNA, technology, communication, agriculture, the science of climate change, etc., might not the values and leadership styles expressed by the Filipina women also lead to advancements toward world peace, justice, generosity, and more equitability worldwide? Let us proceed.
A description of the contents of this massive work is a simple task. There are 442 pages devoted to thirty-four autobiographical statements by Filipinas who have, through superior scholarship in schools, usually parochial, in the Philippines, moved on to graduate studies, primarily in American universities. Upon completions of various graduate degrees, they moved into professional positions-e.g., medicine, law, academia, diplomacy, management-primarily in the United States, but elsewhere also. Length of their statements varied from ten to twenty pages or so.
Now, the simple task of review becomes complex, stimulating, very provocative, a prospect for hope. Recent scientific knowledge provides solutions to formerly intractable challenges of scarcity, inequality, resource distribution, etc. Humankind is called upon to develop new institutions for government, for economic systems, for community. Early on, people were members of tribes, then members in provinces, then citizens of nations, then citizens of empires or coalitions. Recently there have been efforts to establish a League of Nations or United Nations. But huge inequities remain, may be expanding. Global warming calls for a global government to develop and enforce abolition of causes for the warming. Expanding deforestation, increasing pollution of oceans and other sources of water, threats of expansion of nuclear arsenals, the accumulation of wealth among a few and the impoverishment of the many, call for policies supervised by citizens of the world, not nation states or empires or corporations or banks too big to fail.
Effort by this reviewer to provide a thorough reading of Disrupt has lead to the question as to whether there is the possibility of producing a new citizenry which can design and install a global political/economic system which is capable of providing peace, justice, and equitable distribution of wealth for all human beings. The task now is to provide some evidence for this hope.
In the Foreword, Preface, Introduction, and Synthesis, there is book review -type information of importance. Excerpts from these sections include:
Foreword: "Disrupt ... is a collective synthesis on the meaning of Filipina women's leadership experiences as they navigated the corporate cultures in the global workplace.... This book project is a deep examination of how Filipina women in Diaspora thrived in the challenges of living in the modern multi-cultural global economy.... Filipina women are the ultimate global disrupters. They disrupted their lives, families and careers when they left their home country to immigrate to foreign lands and reinvent their lives.... Second generation leaders who were raised in bi-cultural or multi-cultural families are the
true disrupters. Growing up confused, they learned to embrace eastern and western values and traditions.... They developed new paradigms to managing conflict and broke antiquated rules to spark thoughtful conversations that the 21st century is about embracing all things multi-cultural."
Preface: "They (Filipina women) are about three things: first, giving of hope to younger women who are starting their careers and wondering whether success is possible for a Filipina; (second). providing support for women of any age who dare to challenge the conventional views of what is possible for a Filipina, and finally, challenging Filipina women and men who are successful in their careers to give back to our communities.... (Know) it is only a matter of time before we double the number of global Filipina leaders.
Introduction: "These Filipina women (the autobiographers) share their experiences in navigating the complexities of life and work across cultures."
Synthesis: "Although some of the ... leaders (who have contributed their autobiographies) are in the private for-profit sector, their responses to the question about global impact focused on metrics concerning people and the environment, not just on profits. Metrics beyond profits that focus on people
and the planet have been identified as essential to transcendent leadership as a global imperative of the Global Economic Forum 2007.... Globalization will continue to add and blend leadership perspectives of regions ranging from the Americas and Europe to Africa and Asia. This book shows how Filipina women are adding their own voices to the body of knowledge on leadership."
There is need now to highlight and summarize the backgrounds of these professionally successful Filipinas -- their cultural histories, family and other sponsors, their educators, their opportunities to study abroad. There is no tabulation of the frequency of focus on teachers, sponsors, et. aI., but rather on general overall impressions upon reading the many autobiographies. A few of the subjects were from quite poor backgrounds, but most were offspring of middle class parents, especially government officials, educators, a few merchants. Parochial school education, supervised by Catholic nuns, was the norm. There were hardly any references to priests, more frequent reference to mothers rather than fathers. Since internationally, the reputation of Catholic leaders as opponents of equal rights for women is widely understood, the apparent role of nuns in providing females with both aspirations and tools to succeed in leadership roles traditionally held by men needs both explanation and celebration.
One means of ascertaining the preparedness of the autobiographers is to turn to their "leadership Tips", found at the end of each of their presentations. Here are some relevant citations:
"learn how to deal with difficult employees and coworkers, manage conflict, interact with people from different economic situations or cultures, how to listen, honor, and work with diverse points of view."
"People ... are living books of leadership.... if one believes in the human capacity to excel, then everyone in the room is a study in excellence."
"Have the courage to fight racial and gender stereotypes."
"Our authority has the power to draw others and share the satisfaction of celebrating a blend of our heritage, personality, style, and talent reflected in our identities."
"Every person I meet is my teacher."
"Give back to society.... (V)olunteer your time or your expertise. By volunteering, you gain a new
perspective and a sense of fulfillment from sharing yourself."
"Be credible to the public.... Be good listeners.... Give back to society."
"A leader wants to ... protect the interests of families and children, educate the public, and provide access to justice. A leader does not seek power for personal gain or arrogance."
"Share your talents.... (Help) our future leaders.... Reach out. Be accessible, helpful, and
"Remain proud of your ethnic heritage(s) and continue to use your skills and knowledge to serve your community in the spirit of collectivity."
"In today's fast changing and increasingly diverse world, we need to be adaptable and learn to adjust to how we do things without compromising what we stand for."
"Learn how to talk and relate to everyone equally. We are all human beings, whether laborer or professor, driver or diplomat."
"As we grow, we have the opportunity to influence others by our values and need to seize every opportunity to lead others to greatness."
"A true leadership career will prove to you the nobility of work and dedication to the human race."
"Relational leadership is driven by core values, which positively impact thousands of lives from around the world."
"Globalization is not homogeneity, understand and master its nuances....Remember that the survival of the world ... will largely depend on the actions of today's leaders."
"(Create) positive energy in society by mentoring the next generation of leaders. Give back to society generously, to the underprivileged.... Become a mentor, a coach, a sounding board for the next generation of leaders."
"(S)ince Filipinos have experienced racism and prejudice, I have empathy for all people who are not treated with respect and I know that I have been blessed to bless others.... I do not believe Philippine traditional beliefs are at odds with the requisites in the global work place Since the Philippines has had their first female president and America has not, I consider the Philippines to be advanced in important areas.... You too can lead an adverse global team through social media."
"In a globalized economy, you will get to work with people from around the world, travel far and wide, and even choose another country as your home base."
"Make spirituality, not religiosity, become part of your world.... (D)o not denigrate other religions.
Learn to live with the full spectrum of people."
"In a globalized economy and culture, it is all the more important to understand, recognize, and value cultural differences."
Although the reporting of the mastering by Filipinas of leadership roles traditionally occupied by American and European men is a highlight of our book, there is need, in this reviewer's opinion, to point out that further research is needed regarding whether or not a "brain drain" is having a detrimental, neutral, or positive impact on the Philippines themselves. The reporting of the routing of income received in the new places back to home base has been exciting. That is, resources for continuing the production of additional "world citizens" is surely forthcoming.
There are additional spinoff questions.
Where are the children of these well-equipped Filipinas sending their children for education? That is, is growing up within the Filipino culture vital to the production of more and more new world citizens? The above question leads to more background commentary. It appears that today's Filipinos, having experienced forced contact with many other cultures, have produced a distinctive identity. There is evidence that men from India and from China approached the indigenous people early on, apparently for commercial reasons. Shortly after Columbus discovered America, Spanish conquistadors and/or missionaries "invaded" the territory. (Note the 94% Christian population now). Islamic missionaries followed, and a small population remains. American combat conquerors came in 1898, followed by a half-century or so of colonialization. Japanese combatants followed for a brief period. Capitalism has been promoted, and Chinese Communism has been nearby. And English conversation and composition have prevailed. Virtually all of the invaders have been male. But a population conquered and controlled
by various men has not capitulated. Its women are offering the world a way to excel, with the potential of promoting peace and prosperity for all humankind. (Note the role of nuns in parochial schools.)
I dare to add a final "footnote": During a recent local church worship service, members of the congregation were called upon to read, in unison, these words: "We-individual Christians and churches-commit ourselves to a culture of peace and freedom that embraces non-violence, nurtures character, treasures the environment, and builds community, rooted in a spirituality of inner growth with outward action. We make this commitment together, trusting in God, who makes all things new." Citation from "A Social Creed for the 21st Century." In essence, this is what a movement of Filipina women are also committed to.