By Isabella Basco
At the Filipino embassy last Wednesday, several Filipina trailblazers in the military, law and medicine came together to read their excerpts from the new book, DISRUPT 2.0, Filipina Women: Daring to Lead.
The book is a collection of stories by 35 different Filipina thought leaders and some of the “disruptions” they have faced in their personal and professional lives, hence the title.
The Philippines is in a unique position compared to other countries when it comes to women and leadership. It is the highest-ranked country in Asia when it comes to closing the gender gap and is a traditionally matriarchal society: the country has already had two female presidents.
The event was organized and sponsored by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), an organization devoted to promoting Filipina female leadership. FWN has been traveling across the country on a “road show” to advertise the launch of the book.
Some of the leaders who spoke were Sonia Delen, the Senior Vice President of Bank of America Leasing; Shirley Raguindin, the Director of Equal Opportunity for the Dept. of Defense and Col. in the Air National Guard; and Maria Nieves Santos-Graves, the President of Surrey Hearing Care, Inc.
Their journeys were different, but their themes were the same because all were immigrants or the children of immigrants who faced unique struggles in their journeys to leadership due to their genders and races.
Santos-Graves spoke about her arduous path as an immigrant. She earned a pharmacy degree from a respectable university in the Philippines, but she could not find a job after moving to Canada because they did not recognize “outside degrees.” She worked at a dollar store, sold education savings plans and at a call center before going into business herself.
Many of the leaders told their stories and offered wisdom for the future. Eileen Mitzi Pickard, a notable Filipino-American community organizer in Washington, encouraged readers to take advantage of life’s opportunities.
“Do what you can in the time that you have in the place that you are,” Mitzi Pickard said.
Cris Comerford, the first woman and person of Asian descent to hold the title of White House Chef, also wrote an excerpt in the book.
DISRUPT 2.0 demonstrated that gender equality and women’s empowerment are not just about breaking glass ceilings and opening doors, but about mentoring and supporting each other in our personal and professional journeys.
While the event was eye-opening and gave a unique lens into some of the “trials and tribulations” many Filipina women normally face in a new country, it would have been wonderful if there were a panel of women who gave direct advice to other younger Filipina women who are just beginning their careers.
Still, organizations like the Filipina Women’s Network and their launch of DISRUPT 2.0 shows how powerful the “written word” is.
The book is available on Amazon and Kindle.