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Rosalind L. Wee: Modern-day Wonder Woman



As you all may have gathered, I started my column last week with a story on an exemplary woman leader with strong leadership qualities. Thus begins a series for the next few weeks as guideposts for us.

Rosalind L. Wee is a modern-day wonder woman who juggles her socioeconomic advocacies with home and family life, as well as her numerous businesses.

While serving as founder and director of Marine Resources Development Corporation (formulator of food ingredients using carrageenan as the main ingredient), and First Marcel Properties Inc. and W. Land Holdings Inc. (both developers of real estate), she also manages to play her role of loving and supportive wife to businessman and Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hiong Wee; mother to six grown children, all successful in their own fields; and grandmother to six even more beloved grandchildren. All these she manages with a lovely smile as she still finds time to play a mean game of golf in Tagaytay.

A Jolo-born Filipino Chinese, Rosalind has faced her own struggles in life as she is legally blind, with only 25 percent vision in both eyes, after a 14-hour brain tumor operation in New York City years ago.

illustration by glenzkie tolo

This impediment has not slowed down her work for women and girls. She has led relief missions for children displaced by conflict and calamity all over the Philippines and she has developed grassroots livelihood programs for local women in various regions. She is also a strong supporter of gender equality in both business and the home.

Because of her outstanding leadership as a social advocate, she was honored as the 2009 recipient of the Pearl S. Buck International Woman (PSBI) of the Year Award. She has joined the ranks of former Vice President Hillary Clinton, Myanmar’s Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Audrey Hepburn who were all PSBI awardees. On the Philippine side she is the third awardee after former President Corazon C. Aquino in 1995 and Amelia Juico Gordon in 2002.

Wee’s passion clearly lies in the work that she does for others, most specially the oppressed and less fortunate Filipinos. She also serves as director of the Quezon City Chapter of the Red Cross and as board member of the Tagaytay Hospital and Medical Center. She is also involved in the Philippine Federation of Local Councils of Women, thus cementing her position in the local revolution of female economic empowerment. Wee shares, “My doing this is just to give back to God all the blessings He has given me and being His instrument to inspire people.”

ROSALIND Wee is a modern-day wonder woman who is mother to six children and grandmother to six grandchildren.

Aside from being a businesswoman, social advocate for women empowerment and an avid golfer, she proudly shares that she is a movie actress and has appeared in the Mano Po series and This Time I’ll Be Sweeter. She enjoys playing roles of a Chinoy businesswoman who meddles in the affairs of the leading actors.

Rosalind shares, “ I strongly believe that education is the major way out of poverty.  Her own education in Manila was funded by a good neighbor from Sulu where she was born to a Christian- Muslim family. Because she was the 10th of 14 children, her education was not a priority. But she promised her parents that after her graduation from FEU, she would return to Jolo to teach. She has given scholarships to elementary students as these small children have no way to get ahead. This has become one of her best advocacies as she believes that “education transforms lives.”

HER passion lies in the work that she does for others, most specially the oppressed and less fortunate Filipinos.

She believes that the American from Hawaii who approached her and her husband years ago to source seaweed called Eucheuma cottonii, a kind of specie needed to process carrageenan was by God’s design, which Rosalind calls “Gold from the ocean” as it brought on a tidal wave of blessings for her family, including seaweed farmers, a total of three million people who derive their income from the Wees’ carrageenan business.

This phenomenal woman who has broken barriers with professional achievements and a strong history of humanitarian advocacies focused on women and children has clearly defined her purpose in life. She is the richer in spirit and heart because of it.