This year, many women also came into prominenence for their outstanding works, advocacies and achievements, changing the country as well as the world and serving as inspiration to us all. Here are just some of them.
Young Filipino-American model Kelsey Merritt made history for being the first Filipino to walk the runway of Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The Ateneo de Manila University graduate and body positivity advocate was one of the 50 chosen for the famous linegrie show in New York City last November, joining the ranks of supermodels Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen and Adriana Lima.
Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio is the lone woman in the roster of new National Artists declared in October. Known as the Grand Dame of Southeast Asian children’s theater, she is the founder and playwright-director of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, which has placed the Philippines on the artistic map of world theater. She has written most of the plays performed by the group based on materials culled from careful researches. She has also been involved in the production and design of puppets. What she has achieved is an innovative fusion of puppetry, children’s literature, folklore and theater.
The weavers of Mindanao
Three textile weavers from Mindanao were honored with Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasures Award, the highest recognition of the Philippines to folk artists, artisans, craftsmen and pratitioners of traditional arts. They are Ambalang Ausalin of the Yakan, Yabing Masalon Dulo and Estelita Tumandan Bantilan of the Blaan. They are selected on the excellence of dedication to their crafts and their efforts to transfer the skills to the younger generation. Ausalin is a renowned textile weaver from Lamitan, Basilan, respected in her community, while Dulo of Polomolok, South Cotabato, is an expert in the ikat abaca textile and its intricate process and designs. Meanwhile, Bantilan of Malungon, Sarangani, is a weaver of mats, known for her masterful handiwork.
In early November, chef Margarita Fores was knighted by the Italian government into the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Order of the Star of Italy), given to individuals who have helped promote collaborations between Italy and other countries. Perhaps the country’s most prominent female chef, Fores was acclaimed as the Best Female Chef in 2016 by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This year, she launched Islas Pinas Food Hall at DoubleDragon Plaza, a collaboration between the chef and DoubleDragon group, adding to her notable restaurants, Cibo, Lusso and Grace Park.
Fe del Mundo
On 27 November 2018, Google flashed its famous doodle in celebration of the 107th birth anniversary of Fe del Mundo, putting a spotlight on this oft-ignored but outstanding woman. In 1933, she became the first Filipina to be enrolled at the Harvard University Medical School. Her life was dedicated to child healthcare and she made strides in the field of pediatric medicine, thus becoming the first woman to be conferred the title of National Scientist. She died on 6 August 2011.
Journalist Maria Ressa, who has worked with CNN and ABS-CBN and co-founded the online new site Rappler, was declared Person of the Year by Time magazine together with other journalists for “taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out.”