DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

 

Foreword

Marily Mondejar

Angelica Berrie

Preface: Filipina Power

Introduction

Maria Africa Beebe, Ph.D.

the Filipina women's network Rising

This section discusses the leadership role played by FWN in networking Filipina women leaders from around the world, the rationale for the leadership summits, and the history of the Global FWN100™  leadership awards.

MARILY MONDEJAR
Marily: Rising

SUSIE QUESADA
Sisterhood, Dialogue, and Impact

GEORGITTA ‘BENG’ PIMENTEL PUYAT
Rising to the FWN Challenge

Developing Leadership

The chapters in this section share common themes of how the Filipina Women Leaders have developed their leadership expertise and how these women have femtored, coached, and developed leadership of their kapwa.  

LEAH L. LAXAMANA
Journey to Being Present: Making Friends with Fear and Uncertainty

ANA BEL MAYO
Five Dollars in My Pocket

JOANNE MICHELLE FERNANDEZ OCAMPO
The Dynamics of Defining Success and Failure

RACHEL U. SALINEL
Purpose, Passion, and Pass It On

EDITHA TIJAMO WINTERHALTER, Ed.D.
Sangandaan

MYRNA P. YOUNG, MSN, RN, CNOR
Big Dreams, Broken Glass

GERI ALUMIT ZELDES, Ph. D.
Was It Murder? Leadership in My Quest for Truth

Building Leadership Legacy

Select Filipina Women Leaders discuss leadership values and qualities that have transferred from one generation to the next generation and their hope that the next generation will surpass their legacy.

JOJI ILAGAN BIAN
Dreaming Big, Giving the Best

REBECCA MURRY
Redefining Pathways

DINA DELA PAZ STALDER
Blow. Fall. Bounce.

MILA EUSTAQUIO-SYME with MA. VICTORIA E. AÑONUEVO
Success Amidst Adversities

CATHERINE TEH, M.D.
Turning Struggles into Strengths

Leadership and Entrepreneurship

The chapters in this section discuss how the Filipina Women Leaders became entrepreneurs, the link between being entrepreneurial and being a leader, and the impact of social advocacies being intertwined with their enterprises.

MYLENE ROMUALDEZ ABIVA
Filipina Champion of the Geeks

CRISTINA CALAGUIAN
The Road to My Ikigai

JANETTE NELLIE GO-CHIU
Innovator by Happenstance

SANDY SANCHEZ MONTANO
Intensity 7

ANNE QUINTOS
Butterflies in the Gut: Leading Outside Comfort Zones

ROWENA ROMULO
Nothing is Impossible: From Banker to Restaurateur

NIKKI TANG
No Way to Go but Up

First and Foremost

In this section, Filipina Women Leaders discuss their journey of exceeding expectations, disrupting the status quo, and breaking the glass ceiling in order to become first and foremost in their fields.

CYNTHIA BARKER
Building My Political Backbone

MARIA ROSA ‘BING’ NIEVA CARRION, Ph.D.
What Makes an Effective Leader

JENNIFER MARIE B. JOSÉ, M.D.
The Woman’s Room

JUSLYN C. MANALO
If at First You Don’t Succeed

ROXANE MARTIN NEGRILLO
Moving Mountains

GEORGITTA ‘BENG’ PIMENTEL PUYAT
Volunteerism: A Life’s Journey

LUCILLE TENAZAS
A Class of Her Own

LILY TORRES-SAMORANOS
A Hymn of Praise to Failure

LEONOR S. VINTERVOLL
Janteloven and Leadership

Leading for Impact

The chapters in this section discuss the leadership reach of Filipina Women Leaders not only in their professional fields but also in their advocacies. The chapters end with a summary of their leadership impact.

CHRISTINE AMOUR-LEVAR
Finding Your Profession of the Heart

HON. THELMA B. BOAC
Filipina: Leave Footprints That Last

WILMA ‘AMY’ EISMA
Moving Beyond Power and Position

ANNABELLE MISA HEFTI
Stepping over Stolpersteine

CATHY SALCEDA ILETO
Filipina Delikadesa = Waves of Positive Change

WAFA ‘MARILYN’ R. QASIMIEH, Ph. D.
Ambassador of Peace and Humanity

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

THE FILIPINA WOMEN'S NETWORK RISING

 
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MARILY MONDEJAR

Marily: Rising

I arrived in San Francisco in 1980 not knowing anyone, to escape an abusive spouse, get a divorce since there was no divorce in the Philippines and in order to start a new life. With only $200 in my pocket, I was rich in contacts in America and determined to start a new life for myself and my sons.

I lied to my sons about the reason for my travel and promised I would soon return for them. I do not think they quite believed me especially my younger son, Gani. Franklin, however, gave me a look that I interpreted as, “I believe you, Mommy.”

At that time, I was already traveling for Time Life Books Asia, lived in Bangkok, Thailand, and was involved in the launch of the Time Life Books distributorship. This was one of the business ventures of Bill Heinecke, the president of Minor Holdings. My sons had lived with me in Bangkok during one of their summer vacations, so I had some credibility talking about my promised return. I had always involved my sons in my work bringing them along on business trips and to work events. I wanted to share with them my work ethic and why I wanted to be independent and earn my own money.

The Bangkok distributorship launch was so successful that Bill Heinecke offered me a trip to Hong Kong to attend the Time Life Books distributors conference. He also offered me the opportunity to launch the distributorship of Helene Curtis, his new business venture. I turned this down because I had unfinished business; getting a divorce and starting a new career unshackled from the spiral of violence that permeated by marriage “and the culture of violence ingrained in the Filipino culture.” I wanted to get my personal life in order and to advance my career.

 
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SUSIE QUESADA

Sisterhood, Dialogue, and Impact

I always felt different growing up. I grew up in a mostly white American suburb in Northern California where I was only one of a handful of Asians at school.

99.9 percent of my teachers and coaches were white. In my seventh grade Spanish class, the teacher spoke to me in Spanish because of my last name and I was mortified because I did not understand Spanish. My name was different, my food was different, and my parents were different. I was made fun of for eating with a fork and spoon. I did not know my parents had an accent until a friend of mine mentioned it in middle school. I had a crush on the only Filipino boy at school in seventh grade. I was too nervous to get to know him, but I felt like if I did, we would have had a lot in common. Having things in common with others is what most kids are looking for as they grow up. They want to be accepted and have successful role models that look like them. Do not get me wrong. I had great friendships growing up. Friendships that endure even today but I knew I was very different from the other kids.

As I continued to navigate the world as a young adult, my parents instilled a strong sense of culture in me. Not only did my mom cook Filipino food six days out of seven but also we were lucky enough to go home to visit family in Manila every year. They were involved in the Filipino Community having pioneered one of the first and largest Filipino food manufacturing companies in the US. They sold ube ice cream, lumpia, and longanisa to the growing Filipino population, the second largest Asian population in the U. S.. They put up booths at local festivals organized by Filipino organizations. I started scooping ice cream at these events when I was 12 years old. Like a true family business, I worked at Ramar Foods on the weekends doing demos at Asian stores and during my summer breaks in the office or in production. My mom was also very involved in the University of the Philippines Alumni Association Berkeley Chapter and served on the board for many years. This organization was a way to network with other Filipino families in the area with a mission of giving Filipinos a voice in the greater American culture. As a kid, my mom always brought my brothers and me to help set up and take down their events. It was so nice to grow up around other Filipino families and their kids through my parents’ involvement in the community. This had a big impact on me and my quest for helping other Filipinos not feel so different but rather to feel supported.

 
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GEORGITTA PUYAT

Rising to the FWN Challenge

Amelia Earhart: Aviator, Author, Women’s Advocate, and Member of Zonta International, once said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

When I was first asked to accept a nomination for the “100 Most Influential Filipina Woman in the World Award™, I had to decline because I had too much on my plate. My work with the family business and with my Zonta club gave me little time for myself. When I was asked again, I felt I was not worthy of being included with such lofty company. In fact, I felt weary and wanted to go somewhere to de- stress. It was only after I was asked for a third time that I accepted the nomination. And later, I accepted to serve on the FWN Board.

Leadership In Volunteerism: Pitfalls and Success

In addition to my being Chair of the Philippine Orchard Corporation, I have served as a volunteer for the Sigma Delta Phi Alumnae Association, Inc. (SDPAA), SDP Outreach Trust Fund Inc., (OTFI), the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society Inc., (PPOSI), the UNIFEM Philippine National Committee (now UN Women), and Zonta International (ZI) for more than 32 years. I discussed my involvement with these organizations in Chapter 29. Volunteerism: A Life’s Journey of this book.

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP

 

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LEAH L. LAXAMANA

Journey to Being Present: Making Friends with Fear and Uncertainty

I am brave … I do things even when I’m scared. I realize, though, that there aren’t a lot of things I’m scared of anymore.
— Leah L. Laxamana, Author journal entry, 5/2/15

It was May 2014, and I found myself in month nine of unemployment following graduate school. I only had one job option at the time, and while the role was exciting and purpose-driven, it would have also meant having to take the fourth pay cut in my career. I was at the crossroads of getting to do meaningful work and urgently needing income, but ultimately, I knew I literally could not afford that job.

I had no choice but to decline the offer even though it broke my heart.

Fast forward to a few weeks later when I ended up getting a dream job at Twitter doing social impact work. This was going to be a three-month assignment, but I was eventually hired full-time and even got to help craft my position description. Through this work, I connected with San Francisco like never before, met and collaborated with some of the smartest and passionate people I have ever known, and stretched my abilities beyond my imagination. I also got paid at the level I needed.

This journey from unemployed-and-worried to employed-and-thriving taught me two major lessons that could be helpful for anyone who has had limited practice in self-advocacy during a job search. First, it’s important to acknowledge and be clear about our own needs and the minimum of what we want from a role, including pay. We should not feel guilty about taking care of ourselves before trying to help others. It’s also critical to have the salary conversation sooner in the hiring process no matter how uncomfortable. Second, we have to be equally empowered about choosing our employers and not merely wait to be chosen. We need to see the job interview as an opportunity to assess who is hiring. This felt odd to me at first but eventually became liberating. Alignment is key, and instead of feeling deflated when prospects do not work out, I learned this simply means we are meant for something else. Before Twitter hired me, the recruitment process at other organizations I applied for was drawn out, and they made applicants jump through hoops, whereas with Twitter, all it took was a few earnest conversations and I had an offer seven days after the initial interview. I knew then that I had found a place that recognized what I could bring. Life was good.

 
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MYRNA P. YOUNG

Big Dreams, Broken Glass

Life lesson: We all face challenges and obstacles in life. The difference is how we overcome them.
— Myrna P. Young

When I think back to when I was young, I am amazed by how far I have come. I say it without humility because then I was naive, and like every young girl from the Philippines, I had BIG dreams. But I also had this passionate feeling that I wanted to make a difference. I did not know how I was going to do it, I just knew what I wanted. I wanted to leave a legacy of my impact on other people’s lives based on my contribution to their success, happiness, and well-being.Somewhere along the way, the many failures in my story became my successes in leadership. It is because of this story that I can bravely say, “I am amazed by how far I have come.” Now, I hope that my leadership legacy becomes a part of yours.

Breaking The Glass Ceiling

Growing up in the Philippines, I was repeatedly told that for business in America, there is a glass ceiling for minority women, especially for females of Asian descent! What was this ‘ceiling’ and how could it keep in someone? How could it keep in young Asian females? I thought. “It’s glass. Let’s break it.”

 
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GERI ALUMIT ZELDES

Was It Murder? Leadership in My Quest for Truth

In July and August 1975, dozens of patients (reports vary) at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michiganexperienced suddenrespiratory failure, and ten died. After an intense FBI investigation, two Filipina nurses, Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez, were charged with murdering two patients and attempting to kill seven others by injecting a muscle relaxant drug called Pavulon into their intravenous tubes.

FBI Investigators had two other suspects, Dr. Michael McLeod, an African American physician, and an African American nurse, according to FBI reports; news stories did not cover this information although Dr. McLeod confirms in the film he was on the suspect list. The Nurse Manager Betty Jakim, who was Caucasian, admitted before committing suicide on February 3, 1977 to her psychiatrist she had poisoned the patients. In the letter, she wrote Narciso and Perez were innocent. However, the letter was not considered credible. On July 14, 1977, a jury in a federal court in Detroit convicted Narciso and Perez for poisoning five patients and conspiracy to poison others.

The trial lasted 13 weeks and the jury spent 13 days deliberating, both time periods setting records. After Narciso and Perez spent about five months in federal prison, a judge, citing prosecutorial misconduct ordered a new trial, requested by the defense attorneys. Prosecutors, however, declined the offer of a new trial, because they knew Narciso and Perez would not testify in the new trial. Jurors in the original trial indicated that it was their testimony that caused them to think the nurses were guilty, indicating culpability. Narciso and Perez appeared nervous as the prosecutor grilled them with questions.

In 2011, some 30 years later, I, a Filipina-American professor and filmmaker at Michigan State University, learned about the case for the first time. I decided to pursue the question: Was it Murder? My film, “That Strange Summer,” finished in January 2016, is an hour-long documentary that explores this complicated story. In answer to the question, yes, it was murder, but then it became as one of the sources said, like the board game Clue, a quest for the person or persons responsible for the crime.

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

BUILDING LEADERSHIP LEGACY

 
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JOJI ILAGAN BIAN

Dreaming Big, Giving the Best

At the age of 18, I knew I was going to build my own school.

I was still a sophomore at the University of the Philippines in Diliman when I confided to my Mom my deepest wish of having my own school. Early on, it became obvious to me that it was not a pipe dream that I had, nor was it a plan borne of childish caprice. I knew exactly that I wanted my school to be small and exclusive; and distinct from the prominent universities and colleges.

The other thing I was sure of was that I loved to teach and could teach very well. Every time I went home for summer break, instead of staying home and wasting my time, I found fulfillment by teaching young girls poise and personality. Using the skills I learned at the Manila-based Karilagan Finishing School, I would hold classes in our house teaching teens, and young ladies poise and personality development, social etiquette, and grace. Soon enough, mothers came with their daughters in tow, asking me to work magic on their daughters during their awkward stage. That gave me not only extra income during the summer, but it made me realize what I wanted to do, what I wanted my legacy to be. What I did NOT know at that point was exactly how I was going to do it and when it would come true.

 
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MILA EUSTAQUIO-SYME
with MA. VICTORIA E. AÑONUEVO

Success Amidst Adversities

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My younger sister Marivic was five years younger than my twin sister Lourdes and I. She was the 10-year old child who curiously watched her two 15-year old sisters playing piko [hopscotch] in our backyard, swooning over Elvis Presley’s music, and attempting to learn the latest steps in the boogie dance. Marivic would eavesdrop when Lourdes and I would talk about our crushes on various NCAA basketball players. We also knew that sometimes she would be peeping through the window when we had our visits from boys. But wonderfully, Marivic caught up to us. She questioned us, debated our interpretation of facts, gave us more recent information, and suggested innovative solutions to various situations. She confirmed that she was no longer the baby sister.

Our father who became the top bureaucrat in the legislative assembly as Secretary of the Philippine Senate wanted all of us to be physicians, with each of us with a different specialty. But alas, not one of us met his dreams. My twin and I were horrified by the thought of having to touch dead bodies, or cutting through live skin, or seeing blood profusely flowing down our hands, or smelling the stench of various chemicals. Marivic, considered the obedient daughter, attempted to meet this dream by enrolling in a Pre-Med course, only to give up as it was not her calling. Thankfully, my father accepted our decisions as we followed our separate pathways outside the field of medicine. Our mother began her career as a grade school teacher and then moved on to a government position as an auditor assigned to the Central Bank of the Philippines. She accomplished this while successfully balancing a career and raising a family. Her contemporaries who were housewives were puzzled as to why she pursued a career when my father, who was a lawyer, earned enough for the family. Our mother impressed upon us that having a career of her own provided her with financial and psychological independence.

 
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REBECCA MURRY

Redefining Pathways

All things depend on all other things for their existence. Take, for example this leaf…Earth, water, heat, sea, tree, clouds, sun, time, space – all these elements have enabled this leaf to come to existence. If just one of these elements was missing, the leaf could not exist. All beings rely on the law of dependent co-arising. The source of one thing is all things.
— Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991

How would we go about life if there were no failures and successes? Taoist philosophy advocates the practice of pure simplicity and the allowance of natural events in order to achieve harmony in life. It further emphasizes the belief that we do not grow from our successes alone; rather we learn from first permitting failures to happen, then reflecting upon these experiences, which help build resilience and courage. It is critical that we reflect on our choices and decisions; they are all part of a web of life. Sidney Poitier (2000) once said that “all of us live our lives, either book-learned, experience-gathered, or inheritors of our own ancestral history.” In a way, we are a combination of the elements that Poitier mentioned. We must allow our natural tendency to develop and learn from our failures. What is challenging is building the capacity and stamina to persevere. Success is an outcome of failure. I could reflect and learn from the many trials and tribulations I have experienced. I continue to reflect on those childhood experiences as well as those that I have experienced as an adult. They help me navigate through my current life as an educator in the United States. I have learned to live my life with wonder, curiosity, and appreciation for whatever I may encounter.

 
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DINA DELA PAZ STALDER

Blow. Fall. Bounce.

In June 2017, I was chosen as one of the honorees for Istorya ng Pag-asa [Story of Hope], a travelling photo gallery project of the Office of the Vice President, Leni Robredo. The project aims to unify and empower the nation through different stories of hope of Filipinos; also, to inspire less privileged youth not to give up on their dreams. Coming from humble beginnings in San Pablo, Laguna, my voyage was hard but inspired by the aspiration to develop expertise in aesthetics and the ambition of opening my own laboratory and clinic in the Philippines. Now, our products have started crossing borders and have brand name recognition in Asia, the United States, and Europe. The Stalder Group of Companies was established as a private corporation. I am proud that it earned a blue-ribbon award from the Laguna Lake Development Authority, as an environmentally responsible business. In addition to employment, the company provides housing for employees.

 
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CATHERINE TEH, M. D.

Turning Struggles into Strengths

Surgery has long been considered as a man’s world. Surgery’s demands for long hours of operation, irregular hours of work, and high levels of stress were considered not to be compatible with family life. Challenges of hepatobiliary pancreatic (HPB) surgery are similar to that of other surgery, with the difference being that HPB is one of the latest medical frontiers to have been developed and is still evolving. There are fewer women in this field of surgery compared with that of pediatric, gynecologic, plastic, neurosurgery, orthopedic or general surgery.

HPB is challenging because of its ongoing evolution and the need to keep up with changes. It also takes a long time to advance in this profession.

Preparation to be a surgeon is focused on the human body and patient care. There was little consideration of other things. When we become doctors and surgeons, we become leaders but focused on providing care. In my narrative, I will share disruptions in my medical education and initial medical practice that strengthened my leadership first as a surgeon and then as a successful medical community leader. From when I was a child, I always knew what I wanted. I set the goal for myself and worked towards that goal. Everything seemed to work as planned.

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

LEADERSHIP AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 
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MYLENE ROMUALDEZ ABIVA

Filipina Champion of the Geeks

One of the challenges of being a woman and an entrepreneur is that many men in the high-tech industry of Educational Multimedia and Technology try to put you in your place by testing you, trying to see if you really know what you’re talking about. Men traditionally dominate the technical niche.
— Mylene Abiva (2018)

‘First in Educational Learning Trends Always’ (FELTA) Booksales, now FELTA Multi-Media Inc. was the brainchild of my parents, Felicito and Teresita Abiva in 1966. What began as a business of importing visual aids, books, and other simple educational materials, FELTA is now 53 years old and a robust company engaged in the international trade and manufacture of educational courseware, licensing educational software, laboratory equipment, educational computer laptop and tablets, and LEGO Robotics for the Filipino children. FELTA sets the standards for providing top quality educational and training materials.

My journey to lead FELTA Multi-Media Inc. was not easy. It was not a walk in the park. I believe my leadership of FELTA is a result of resilience, hard work, ingenuity, passion, and Divine Intervention. Let me share with you how I made the “I am possible” into a reality.

 
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CRISTINA CALAGUIAN

The Road to My Ikigai

I am the founder and Managing Director of Dagaz HR Consultancy and Recruitment Company, a company based in Dubai, UAE since 2011. My career started in the Philippines where for 11 years I was a licensed stockbroker. This was followed by nine years of experience in Dubai as a financial consultant, immigration consultant for Canada, and a business development executive in an advertising company. After more than 20 years focused primarily on generating revenues and profits, I gradually evolved into a Social Entrepreneur and this is where I found my ikigai [a reason for being]. In my early years, I dreamed of owning a company. I dreamed of building my own corporate headquarters. But I never thought about being a social entrepreneur. Not until 2012 when my perspective about business changed.

Learning about social entrepreneurship inspired me to develop Dagaz as a social enterprise. In addition to providing revenue-generating regular human resources and recruitment services, the purpose of Dagaz became empowering and helping people with disabilities and other challenges to find work. This purpose supported the Dubai Government’s initiative and campaign to be named as “Disable-Friendly” by 2020. To help individuals identify their best career paths I use the Harrison Assessment Tools (HATs). I went through this assessment to help me validate and improve on my personal development and leadership skills. The Harrison Assessments System provides a comprehensive assessment of the behavioral competencies required for specific roles and accurately predicts success factors and potential obstacles. Integrated selection tools include performance-based interviewing questions, ways to attract potential candidates for a job position, and the ability to calculate eligibility, suitability, and interview ratings for a composite ranking of individuals being considered. It helps assess individuals’ decision making, communications, motivation, flexibility, conflict management, and innovation skills and traits.

I will share the factors that made a big impact on my decision making and paved the way for my ikigai.

 
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JANETTE NELLIE GO-CHIU

Innovator By Happenstance

I was born the second of three children during the Year of the Monkey and baptized as “Janette Nellie Go.” According to the Chinese zodiac, those born in this year are independent, honest, cordial, positive, and possess foresight and acute intuition. Their strong curiosity causes them to try boldly everything interesting. Those born in the Year of the Monkey are believed to be accommodating individuals who always do their best to help others. They possess an upbeat attitude that influences them and the people around them.

I turned out to have these qualities, not because the Chinese zodiac said so but because my parents, who raised my siblings and me in a low-key and conservative environment, emphasized the values of discipline, hard work, filial piety, and trust as the keys to success especially in dealing with people.

Being the middle child gave me the unique opportunity to be my family’s keeper. As a keeper, I literally kept everyone’s records and documents. I made sure things were planned out before anyone could think about them.

I may have been born as the middle child, but I did not have middle child issues of feeling “left out.” My level-headed and perceptive father gave me challenging tasks because he found a kindred spirit in me who shared his passion for diligence, creativity, and versatility. Even as a child, my insatiable curiosity about the world around me and my love of nature had impressed and “provoked” my parents to assign to me the more challenging tasks. Being a middle child enhanced my resilience and sharpened my response to life’s challenges. I became my Dad’s little helper in fixing the car when it did not start and assisted him in rewiring or fixing appliances and other machineries. I also became my mother’s all-around secretary. I was in-charge of running various errands including the tasks of preparing the helpers’ payroll, keeping an inventory of my mother’s gifts to friends and family members, and even wrapping and delivering them to her special friends. I wrote notes and special messages for them. Whenever I would ask why she wanted me to do these tasks, my mother always said: “because your handwriting is more legible” or “because you can wrap the gifts nicely” or “because you will come back quickly with the job accomplished.”

 
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SANDY SANCHEZ MONTANO

Intensity 7

In 2006, our dream, like the dream of many nurses in the Philippines was to work in the United States (U. S.) where possibilities were endless and opportunities for professional growth were boundless. They said America was where dreams come true. So, my husband and I braved the challenge. We flew to the U. S. and hit the ground running. We attended seminars and conventions, updated our knowledge on hospital care, discovered the latest and newest guidelines on life-saving. We were intent on finding our place under the sun and were on our last leg in completing hospital orientation for what we believed was every nurse’s dream job. We thought we would be starting a new chapter in our lives. We were a young family with two kids, and with both husband and wife in the medical field. Everything was set.

As we put our plans into motion, news from back home arrived. There were calamities, disasters, death, and destruction. My kababayan [countrymen] were suffering. I felt pain for them. It brought me back to that awful day in 1990 during the Great Quake.

In 2007, we received a call from my father-in-law. “It is the Philippines who nurtured you, educated you, made you strong. Now that you are strong, you serve other people. Please consider coming back and serving your countrymen.” This resulted in many discussions between my husband and me. We questioned our plans, our dreams, and the plans for our kids. We had questions about our livelihood. To which, my father-in-law, astute as he is, countered our questions with his own: “How much money do you want in the bank? How many houses do you want to build? How many cars do you want to drive? How much is enough for you to really say you are happy and contented?”

 
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ANNE QUINTOS

Butterflies in the Gut: Leading Outside Comfort Zones

This generation needs to sacrifice and to stay.
— Anne Quintos

As I wrote these words, ink from my pen blotched the yellow pad, front to back. Most of my classmates, who took the same comprehensive exams at St. Scholastica’s College just before we graduated, were wide-eyed about what the future had in store for us. Many had set their sights on leaving the country for better-paying jobs. It did not matter that overseas jobs often advertise the need for a minimum of two years of work experience. Fine-print like that are ignored when dreams are at stake. Most of us were dreamers, wanting nothing short of the world. But not me.

I was a dreamer of another sort. I stubbornly believed that I would rather struggle as a creative in my own country than be a salaried employee in a first-world corporation. “Impact and personal worth are how truly you know you’ve made it,” I told my dad during one of our existential talks that extended past midnight. I considered leaving the Philippines to earn dollars a form of disloyalty. “I would rather have my soul with me when I’m old and gray, thank you.”

 
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ROWENA ROMULO

Nothing is Impossible: From Banker to Restaurateur

I grew up in a compound that was called Kasiyahan. I lived with my parents, grandparents, my uncles and aunts, and my first cousins. The Romulo family was a very closely-knit family. We had one main kitchen and dining room, and so we usually ate all our meals together. Lola’s chicken relleno, Tito Greg’s kare-kare, and The General’s chicken and pork adobo were my comfort food.

Little did I know that 35 years later, I would have the chance to share with others the dishes that my sister, cousins, and I enjoyed while growing up in that magical family home called Kasiyahan. Growing up, successful role models surrounded me. I was lucky to have witnessed the many achievements of my grandfather, Carlos P. Romulo. He left us with an extraordinary legacy and even if nobody said so, I knew I had the responsibility to do well.

In the late 80’s, I left the Philippines to pursue career opportunities in banking. I fancied traveling and learning more about the world. I wanted to be more independent, stand on my own two feet, and to make a difference.

I was lucky in my choice of a banking career, but I did work hard. In a career spanning thirty-two years, I worked for two major American banks. I was posted to New York, Milan, and London. I climbed the corporate ladder on merit and became a managing director at forty-one, responsible for a global business.

My success was built on managing businesses, expanding into new markets, motivating a diverse team of professionals from around the globe, leading start-up projects, and handling complex transactions. I traveled the world, wore expensive suits, and stayed in the best hotels. It was the typical corporate lifestyle of the accomplished senior banker. It was the life I lived and breathed. And I was making a difference.

 
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NIKKI TANG

No Way to Go But Up

Many people believe that a CEO must be flawless. That a person who is leading a big company must be perfect to a tee. I am here to say that business leaders face the same adversities and struggles as other people do. After all, we are all human and prone to the same vulnerabilities.

But it is not the failures that we should fear; it is not our mistakes or our missteps. We always tiptoe around these things as if they could push us off course, and it is true, they can. Inevitably, the lessons we learn from our mistakes push us to soar higher.

I have been a CEO for most of my life, but the road was not always perfect.

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

BEING FIRST AND FOREMOST

 
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CYNTHIA BARKER

Building My Political Backbone

‘Sadness, Sacrifice, Success.’ This was the headline in the Philippine Panorama (28 June 2015) for my story as the child of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). This cycle of sadness, sacrifice, and success is familiar to many leaders and is especially applicable to those OFWs who have had to leave their country in order to provide for their family left behind. My mother who was an OFW from 1972 sacrificed to give me everything.

As I recall the struggles that have led to this point in my life, some clear patterns or themes have contributed to the building of my backbone, of my inner resilience. These include moving to the West with my Philippine cultural heritage, starting businesses in a different cultural environment, and being undermined by men. The most significant fight has been my battle as a woman in a leadership position and the opposition of powerful men. I have always been a very private person, and I have chosen to suffer in private. Few people know the hardships I have faced or the struggles I have endured even after entering the public arena as a politician. But I choose to be private because I refuse to speak power to the people that have tried to break my spirit.

 
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MARIA ROSA ‘BING’ NIEVA CARRION, PH.D.

What Makes an Effective Leader

Once upon a time, there lived this young, curious girl on the heart-shaped island of Marinduque in the center of the Philippines. She grew up in the company of her happy and nurturing family, with a tall, handsome and larger-than-life Castilian father, Ramon Saiz Carrion, a mining engineer who headed the iron ore mines as General Superintendent, and a beautiful, caring wonderfully strong woman who ran a warm, welcoming home.

This wide-eyed energetic observant girl, one of eight siblings enjoyed the best of both worlds since she grew up with the copper mountains of Balanacan in Mogpog on one side, and the deep blue sea on the other side. She relished and enjoyed the beauty and bounty of nature, during magical moonlit evenings, the sweet smell of the delicate Sampaguita flowers hanging in the warm summer air and the multi-colored lights of the fireflies on the huge acacia trees surrounding their white house on top of the hill.

These are strong images that remain etched in her mind to this day. Then she would look up at the skies and see the twinkling stars, and when she looked down to the Bay, she would see the single lights emanating from the fishermen‘s bancas [small boats] illuminating the sea making it like a star-studded sky. This young girl reflected, “What an awesome, magical sight of God’s wonderful creation.”

 
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JENNIFER MARIE B. JOSÉ, M. D.

The Woman’s Room

Since my teenage years, I have struggled with progressive adenomyosis. I dreaded my monthly periods. I was dependent on strong painkillers and usually stayed in bed, incapacitated for days. This condition affected both my work and social life. I even turned down job assignments abroad for fear of living alone when the pain was at its worse. Since I had never had any major surgery, the postoperative pain was one of my greatest concerns.

Before meeting Dr. Jennifer Jose’, I was hesitant about robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery. Although I had read online about Da Vinci robotic surgery, I had never met anyone who had undergone this procedure. This fear kept me from doing what I should have done years ago.

This statement from one of my patients is the reason I became a robotic gynecologic surgeon. My name is Dr. Jennifer Marie B. Jose. I became the First Filipino doctor to make it into the Surgeon’s locator list of Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System. I became first and foremost in this field by exceeding expectations, by sheer determination and hard work, by overcoming challenges, and by staying focused on my goal.

 
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JUSLYN C. MANALO

If At First You Don’t Succeed

If you asked me years ago, what I wanted to do in life, my answer would have been to help people. It has always been my passion to serve others. I knew deep inside that this was my purpose. However, when asked by my college counselor, I did not know what field or discipline would give me the best chance to make a difference.

Despite the uncertainty as to what career path to follow, I completed a Master in Public Administration at San Francisco State University’s School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. I was elected to the Daly City Council in November 2016, and when I was sworn in as a first-time council member, I was also elected Vice- Mayor in December 2016. A year later, on December 11, 2017, the Daly City Council unanimously selected me as the Mayor.

My journey as a Filipina leader has been shaped by experience with community service, along with the attendant struggles, disappointments, and triumphs. It is true that you cannot feel the real highs in life if you do not have the very lows in life. My leadership identity was formed through community organizing during my student life, working in the nonprofit sector, advocacy, and working with government officials and departments. 

 
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ROXANE MARTIN NEGRILLO

Moving Mountains

You have been assigned this mountain, to show others that it can be moved.

In 2007, I started my media career as a senior planner in Abu Dhabi where my experience consisted of handling Nestle and Procter & Gamble brands for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) in the Philippines. Fast forward to 2018 in Dubai, I am currently a Senior Planning Director specializing with accounts in various industries including automotive, fashion, technology, airline, property, retail, telecommunications, and consumer electronics.

I am the only Filipina in the media industry in Middle East with a senior management position. Through the years, I have had various powerful positions where I have represented my company in regional meetings in Europe, traveled the world for career advancement, and won Filipino and international awards for leadership. I have also been in many challenging situations where my leadership role had been undermined because I am a woman, an Asian, and a Filipina.

I still remember how a non-Filipino receptionist told me before a meeting “I should congratulate you, because for a Filipina, you have a very good title.” I have a term for such statements, and it is complisult (part compliment, part insult). These complisults do not bother me anymore. I have learned to embrace them for they are part of my identity as a woman leader in an international arena. I have learned to accept that we cannot always control situations that come our way. As Stephen Covey said: “10% of life is made up of what happens to you, and 90% of life is decided by how you react.” I have become more mature in handling situations, staying positive even in the face of adversity. I have used my position of being “unique” as my greatest asset; I come across as a strong-willed female leader who is neutral, fair, and objective.

I have focused my energy and used my leadership to inspire others. I know it is possible to be successful based on merit while keeping my integrity intact. I have created my own path, and I intend to leave a trail that can serve as a legacy for future Filipina women leaders to follow. Currently, my priority is not just to advance myself but also to build a sustainable pipeline of global Filipina women leaders. It is not impossible to move mountains. You can, as I have done, turn your fear into courage, convert challenges into opportunities, set your own goals, and most importantly have faith in yourself.

 
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GEORGITTA ‘BENG’ PIMENTEL PUYAT

Volunteerism: A Life’s Journey

‘Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, Will be’ was a song I often sang as a young girl because I often wondered about my future. I sang this during the parties that my parents would host with music and dancing in my childhood home in Cotabato, Mindanao.

My parents were leaders in their respective fields so the guests were their medical and pharmaceutical colleagues, Rotarians and their Rotary Anns, and close family friends and their children. Imagine ladies in their fine dresses and gentlemen in their suits socializing out in the lawn, while inside the house a portable film projector showed movies for the entertainment of the guests.

My name is Georgitta Pimentel Puyat, and my mission in life is volunteerism. I am the wife of a wonderful man, a mother to four sons and a daughter, mother-in-law to three daughters-in-law, and a grandmother to three precious grandchildren. I am a co-founder of a company that innovates products for the benefit of disadvantaged farmers and their families. I am a member of various socio-civic organizations that aim to educate, enrich, and most importantly, empower. I am a leader who thrives on hard work and inspires others to use the best of their abilities. And most importantly, I am a lifetime Volunteer who selflessly gives her time, talent, and resources to charitable and community-based activities.

 
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LUCILLE TENAZAS

A Class of Her Own

Original Interview and Words Mikhail Lecaros. First published in Adobo Magazine (March - April 2014) Updated by Lucille Tenazas, July 2018

Blessed with an almost effortless dignity and a design sense that has earned her accolades all over the world, adobo Design Awards 2014 Head of Jury Lucille Tenazas is in a class all her own.

When it comes to the work of Lucille Tenazas, one is immediately struck by the precise manner that the designer’s chosen elements convey information while avoiding the tendency towards over-embellishment that despoil many a contemporary work. Meticulous allocation of visual real estate notwithstanding, the voice and – more importantly – the intelligence behind each piece ring true and clear, communicating the intended message (and, by extension, the artist) more effectively than any number of superfluities.

Given the thought that must have gone into some of her pieces and the deftness of their execution, it is no surprise that Tenazas is at the top of her game. As a graphic designer, Tenazas has done work for clients as diverse as the San Francisco International Airport, Rizzoli International, the Neue Galerie Museum for German and Austrian Art in New York, and a number of non-profit organizations and institutions, as well as city, state and federal agencies. Highly-sought as an educator, Tenazas regularly gives design talks, seminars and workshops all over the world, in addition to being the Henry Wolf Professor in the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design in New York.

 
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LILY TORRES-SAMORANOS

A Hymn of Praise to Failure

Failure is Success in Progress…
— Albert Einstein

Hot tears ran down my flushed face, while I quietly contemplated my life. I felt the heat from my pulsating body because of anger. I wanted to scream, but instead stifled a sob. I was angry, very, very angry. I was angry at God, as I realized that life is not fair.

As I was standing in front of the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, I looked through the window above that sink. I stared at the blue sky and the brown lawn outside. And I swore under my breath, that for as long as I live in this world, I would never be dependent on anyone for my survival. I swore this oath as I continued to hold my sobs.

My identity as a Filipina was sealed, but I was determined that being a Filipina was not the issue. Then I mapped out my life with precision while looking over a sink that was almost too high for me to see over. I was eleven years old.

 
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LEONOR S. VINTERVOLL

Janteloven and Leadership

While sitting at the breakfast table, I remember my husband asking, “What happened to your meeting with the first Ambassador of the Philippine Embassy in Oslo?” He was curious. He expected to see enthusiasm, as he witnessed how I always tried to convince visiting politicians from the Philippines on the benefits of having an embassy in Norway.

For the first time, I snapped at him and said, “I am done with community service.” His response surprised me. He said, “Well, good decision!” He has always been supportive of what I do and has high respect when it came to my advocacies. He was and is my number one supporter.

To say I was surprised is an understatement, and I wondered what made him feel that way.

 

DISRUPT 3.0. FILIPINA WOMEN: RISING

LEADING FOR IMPACT

 
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CHRISTINE AMOUR-LEVAR

Finding Your Profession of the Heart

To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a choice to do a very special thing; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work that would be his finest hour.
— Sir Winston Churchill

This quote by Sir Winston Churchill, probably the most influential person of the twentieth century, a man who so embodied resistance to tyranny that he was called by many ‘the largest human being of our time,’ is a constant source of inspiration in my leadership journey.

While how I view myself as a Filipina woman leader is still very much a work in progress, Churchill’s statement resonates deeply with how I feel about my evolution over the last few decades. From my early years growing up in Manila and Paris, to attending university in Tokyo and working on multiple continents as a young professional, from navigating the heartache of my divorce from my ex-husband to finding love again as a single mother of two young children, and being blessed with two more healthy children; the journey has been formative and not without many challenges, pitfalls, joys, and sorrows.

But ultimately, as Churchill so eloquently stated, I believe the voyage has prepared me for that special moment in my life where I am called to do something with more significance and more meaning than the sum of my experiences to date.

 
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HON. THELMA B. BOAC

Filipina: Leave Footprints That Last

When we first enter this world and breathe our first breath of life, we cry our hearts out. I have always wondered about this mystery of life. Perhaps it is the precursor to the kind of life that we all must lead. Or perhaps it is life’s way of telling us that the road to mortality is full of bumps and holes, and it will be up to us to jump over the bumps and smooth out the holes. Life is full of tears and laughter; it is also full of great promise. It is the longing of this promise that leaves footprints and gives our life meaning.

Life’s Surprises

In this chapter, I reflect on life’s interruptions, obstacles, and failures that I encountered. These were unexpected and completely changed the direction of my professional and personal life. The struggles, failures, and tragedies were life-changing experiences that ended my complacency of being a classroom teacher and helped me discern what is my true purpose in life. Being in the classroom during those seven years was a dream come true. At that time, I had no other professional goal or ambition but to remain in the classroom and be with students. I was satisfied with who I was and what I was doing. What was most satisfying was that I also fulfilled the dream of my adoptive Filipino parents in the U. S. as well as my biological parents in the Philippines that I was to go to college and become a professional. I was the first in my family to reach that goal and was extremely grateful to God that my adoptive parents were there to witness the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I would like to think that I was a good, if not a great teacher. Thankfully, someone else thought so too.

 
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WILMA ‘AMY’ EISMA

Moving Beyond Power and Position

My journey to leadership and service began in 1993, when in an act of youthful daring, I decided to walk up to Dick Gordon, then chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), to join his corps of volunteers for the conversion of the former US Naval Base into the first free port of the Philippines.

The SBMA had been newly created then for the daunting task of maintaining the eight-million dollars’ worth of infrastructure turned over by the Americans, replacing the 40, 000 jobs lost upon the closure of the said base, and transforming the area into a commercial, tourism, and investment hub.

But the most pressing challenge of the time was to rebuild the area from the devastation of the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, the 1991 catastrophe of Mt. Pinatubo that wrought havoc in Subic and the rest of Central Luzon, damaging crops, infrastructure, and personal property, totaling at least 10.1 billion pesos, plus an additional 1.9 billion pesos in 1992 due to post-eruption ash falls and lahar flows.

Being idealistic, I rose to the challenge of helping my neighborhood community. To my delight, the boss, as we called Gordon, not only accepted me in his staff but even let me into his inner circle. That inner circle made me cocky! Arrogant!

As a 22-yearold fresh Ateneo Law School graduate from Olongapo City, I neverhad imagined working side by side with the SBMA founding chairman, riding helicopters, negotiating contracts with the World Bank, and joining trade and business missions all over the world. I was on top of my game, or so I thought. “Aim high,” he exhorted us all. And so we young ones did.

Then came the biggest blow to my tender and impressionable ego; I flunked the bar exam.

 
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ANNABELLE MISA HEFTI

Stepping over Stolpersteine

The setting was an elementary school ground in Cebu. The children were playing various games. A group of girls stood around playing Piko, a game where one person jumps with one foot to push a stone to the next square while avoiding the other stones. It was a game of skill. I liked playing Piko as a child. I was also good at it. I was known for kicking my stone above the opponent’s stone wherever I wanted it. I would play Piko through the lunch breaks at school. I simply loved it. I was the “champion, ” and I had to live up to expectation. I knew why I was hooked. I liked winning. It felt good. I did not win all the time, definitely not, but I tried again, maybe not harder but I never gave up. In games, I consider myself as a gracious loser. I was in it for the fun but not necessarily to win. This is where failure eludes me. I refuse to be bitter if things do not turn my way. I just move on.

Moving on is a choice I have made. We can choose to be miserable and wallow in self-pity for failing to win or we can learn from the situation and indulge in self- encouragement. I consider losing in Piko a temporary setback. Setbacks come in many forms, such as hurting comments, a missed train, and incidents that cause emotional and physical pain. Setbacks are by definition temporary. The determining factor is not what happened but how you choose to respond.

 
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CATHY SALCEDA ILETO

Filipina Delikadesa = Waves of Positive Change

Throughout my career, I have realized the distinctly Filipina quality of delikadesa, that involves creativity, agility, resilience, and resourcefulness, has helped me through the many challenges I encountered. Delikadesa is about orchestrating and gently, but persuasively, communicating an opinion. It is getting everyone together and giving them a new set of lenses to see things and say: “can we do this together?”

It is gentle but powerful, just as women leaders should be.

Whatever it is I embark on, I find this insatiable urge to create positive change by leveraging this Filipina quality with my expertise in marketing and communications. Delikadesa has given me the drive, ability, and courage to disrupt multiple industries. As a builder, I was part of the original team that established the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP); the enabling association for the information technology and business process management (IT- BPM) industry in the Philippines. The IT-BPM industry has created 1.2 million jobs and an additional 3.68 million jobs outside the industry for the Philippines and generated approximately USD 23B in revenue for the country in 2016. IBPAP has been a catalyst for the industry’s growth for the last decade. I currently serve the IBPAP board as its Vice Chairperson and head the industry’s Technical Working Group on Country Competitiveness tasked with driving country and industry promotion. As a leader, I head the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations functions for the Asia Pacific at Sutherland. Aside from being an integral member of the leadership team, I play a strategic role in ensuring the success of Sutherland’s unique provincial model in the Philippines. 

As a woman, I am passionate about advocating for women’s empowerment. I believe we have the power to create lasting change and I find fulfillment in watching women grow and thrive in leadership positions through the programs I have championed, such as Sutherland’s League of Extraordinary Women.

 
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WAFA ‘MARILYN’ R. QASIMIEH, Ph. D.

Ambassador of Peace and Humanity

In recognition of your excellent service to humanity in improving your surrounding communities through outstanding civic and charitable stewardship, you are hereby celebrated and honored with the highest distinction at the 2nd Annual SPMUDA Global Awards and World Water Day 2018.’ 23 March 2018.

I was honored by the statement above from the Southern Philippines Muslim and Non-Muslim Unity and Development Association (SPMUDA). SPMUDA is a non- profit civil service organization that is affiliated with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and that supports the United Nations sustainable development goals. SPMUDA’s mission is to build a better world with universal peace and to deliver humanitarian assistance to the needy. SPMUDA identified volunteer Goodwill Ambassadors with responsibility for promoting understanding and friendship that promote the welfare and benefit of the poor and the needy. SPMUDA has branches in 197 countries. I serve as a goodwill ambassador for both the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines and as a board member and deputy minister for finance.