Category Archives: Advocacy

WAGGGS Chair Team in the Philippines

The Girl Scouts of the Philippines is a member of a bigger organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts or WAGGGS. Last February 9, we have been privileged to be able to meet with the Chair’s Team which decided to meet in the Philippines.

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Nicole Grinstead is the current World Board Chair. The very first time I met her was during the 34th WAGGGS World Conference in Edinburgh back in 2011. At that time, she was running for the World Board. I have admired her ever since, seeing her passion to serve the organization.

The event aimed to have a dialogue with GSP’s young adult member and active girl scouts. One segment of the event was sharing about our experiences in participating WAGGGS events in different parts of the world. I myself have been representing the organization in various events, which has widened my horizon and unleashed my potentials. And of course, meeting friends from all over the world.

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It was really a great opportunity to share our vision with the WAGGGS Chair’s Team. Seeing them intently listening to us had renewed our faith that they are doing everything just to give chance for our voices to be heard. Truly, we are empowered for the chance to influence decision-making body for the organization.

I will be forever proud that I am a girl scout, and girl scouting empowers me as a woman.

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I have prepared a short video presentation of girl scouts in WAGGGS events, see it here: “We are stars” Happy watching! 🙂

No to Fear, Live a Courageous Life

Courage is such a big word. In the old times, it is included in the virtues one strong man must possess. Today, it can be consider as a precursor to success.

Each of us want to change the world, in our own little ways. But we are afraid to take the first step, or we are just clueless whether we’re old enough, good enough, willing enough? I myself have times when I question my capabilities, but through my journeys, I have learned that courage isn’t just being strong. There’s more to it. Let me share with you 5 insights I have learned through my journey:

1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I was just an innocent 21 year-old when I left my job in Malacanang. People might ask “Are you crazy? You are working for the President of the Philippines, then you’ll leave your job!” I know I wanted more. I was hungry for learning. I resigned from my office, packed my bags then flew to Seoul, South Korea to earn a Master’s Degree. Until know, I can’t thank God enough because that was the best decision I made after graduating from college. I didn’t just earn a degree, I learned to be independent, met great friends and I have widened my horizon.

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When I returned to the Philippines, I landed to another job in Malacanang. This time with Philippine Commission on Women, which was my dream job. I was working in the Policy division. When Yolanda hit the country, for unknown reasons I was so affected. I prayed to God is he is calling me to the field. He said Yes. After my contract ended, I resigned, packed my bags, then traveled to Tacloban and Borongan, Samar. It was somehow different w

ith my Korea trip, because I will be living in the Philippines’ third poorest region. I left the comforts of living in Metro Manila, then lived humbly in a small city away from home. But it was working in the communities, seeing lives changed that kept me going.

I have no regrets with those decisions.

2.    You cannot survive life, by yourself.

The most cliché’ saying “No man is an island.” I have proved it 101 %. I am blessed that God has brought people in my life to finish the race. One of my favorite movies, 3 Idiots, has helped us figure this out. The friendship that Rancho, Raju and Farhan have was something that helped them survived the challenges at school, and the greater challenges they faced outside school.

Our families are there to support us no matter what. Friends and spiritual family fight with us and finish the race with us. Cherish moments with them. Spend time to nourish relationships. Go beyond the simple “hi and hello”. Fight for your relationships.

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3.    Pursue what you love doing.

The biggest challenge we often face is to know what we really love to do. It is not something that we realize in an instant Eureka moment. It takes time. But we have to start looking for something that fulfills our purpose in life. I am grateful that early on, I was able to understand that fighting for women’s right is what I love to do, that providing a safe, fun and happy environment for women is what I can bring to make a dent in this world.

Pursue your simple passions – blogging, photography, art. I love checking museums and coffee shops when I travel. It can be as simple as that. Or as difficult as finding a career path. Whatever your passion may be, learn to know it and live for it.

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4.  Dream big. Act on it. Fight for it.

547445_10201994158114088_1479886025_nIn 2009, I applied for an internship with UNFPA to go to New York. I failed the application, I was not shortlisted. I forgot that I dreamed of going to the City that never sleeps.

Fast forward 2013, I was informed that I will be a delegate to represent my organization, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, guess where? New York!

I was too excited. Then came a challenge – applying for a visa. I want to share how miraculous God was. In less than a week, I got a US visa, granted multiple-entry! Wow.

As what Paulo Coelho on The Alchemist narrated: “And when you want something, the whole universe conspires for you to achieve it”

I was able to spend 2 weeks in New York, all expense paid. And not just that, I was able to represent the Philippines. I was the short Filipina who kept on speaking at events fighting for women’s rights.

I have more dreams. I will act on then and fight for them to come into reality.

5.    If there’s something in the world that you don’t like, CHANGE IT!

You know my pet peeve? Seeing a man shouting at his girlfriend/wife? I will never accept violence against women. No one should. We should stop blaming rape victims for what they wear being the reason to be raped. We should not discriminate the rights of girls to be educated. A child is to enjoy her education, and not be a bride.

Violence against women is pervasive in our society deeply rooted in patriarchal belief systems. It is abuse of power and human rights. I am doing every single act to advocate for women’s rights. Even by just being the voice for them.

I urge you to be advocates, for social change. It can be against corruption, or clean living. Each one of us has something in this world that we don’t like.

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Leo Tolstoy, a famous storyteller and a survivor of the holocaust said that “The Opposite of Love is not Hate, but Indifference”. I may say, the opposite of Courage is not cowardice, but Fear. We don’t act because we fear we might lose the game. But how can we start if we stay in the comfort zone, and forget that the world is a much bigger place.

And do not fear, because God, when He appoints us, He supports us all the way!

 

You can check the presentation I prepared in Prezi. Check it here.

Ideas that Matter 2015 focuses on Women Empowerment

Two weeks ago, I received an invitation from an organization called Ideas that Matter in University of Sto. Tomas, Manila. I was invited to be the guest of speaker for the topic “Woman of Courage.” Wow. They found my thesis online on political empowerment of women in the Philippines, and felt the importance of imparting to students the significance of women empowerment.

I prepared my talk last week, and I was just happy because things kept popping out of my head as I make a note for the talk. Then made a presentation using some of my personal photos. (I will share the text in my next blog).

So this morning, I went to UST to give a talk to students from the College of Fine Arts and Design. It was overwhelming to see a lot of them, but I was pumped up with their energies and passion. My talk went on for an hour, then some of them asked questions. One of the questions was “In simple terms, can you define women empowerment?”

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That was difficult because women empowerment is never simple. But it is through women empowerment that we can achieve gender equality, I shared. Women are discriminated in all sectors of society, from education to employment. It is critical that we fight for women’s rights as human rights. Empowering women can be as simple as giving us the platform to speak, to providing equal access to resources.

It was a great experience for me, sharing my life learnings in the short journey so far after graduation. I really hope they were inspired to hear from me how to be a “Woman of Courage.” Thanks UST Ideas that Matter. Sa uulitin!

 

P.S. I really love the token of appreciation from them. This happens when you get to talk with cool advertising students. 🙂

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A day will come

A day will come

 
She wakes up in the morning
Tireless, selfless
It’s a new day, she thought
To carry the weight of the world.
 
In every step, in every bow,
She hopes that future’s planted
In the vastness of the universe
In uncertainty, in poverty.
 
When the sun and the moon meets
Signalling that the end is here
She stops, she crawls,
And prays a day will come.

A day will come.
 
 

What makes your heart beat?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Many people are trying to do anything to search for what their true passion is. For some, they discovered it when they were working; for others, it took them years to fully understand what they really want to do in their life. I think it is very important to understand what your calling is and live fulfilling what you are called to do.

When I was in primary school and asked what I want to become when I grow old, I proudly say I want to become a lawyer. I have such a loud and solid voice, and people always tell me it would really fit when you are arguing in court. Growing up, I always enjoy TV shows and movies that have scenes in the court, thinking someday I will also do that.

I reached Grade 6, and I became our school paper News writer. Then in high school, I intentionally chose Journalism over Home Economics. I became the Editor-in-Chief of Ang Gabay, our school paper in Filipino. Writing became my way of voicing out my thoughts and influence people. It then led me to consider becoming a journalist as a profession.

I vividly remember how I easily chose Broadcast Communication as my first option for undergraduate course when I filled out my UPCAT form. I know deep in my heart that I want to be a communication major in my four years at the university. But circumstances did not permit me to take up BA Broadcast Communication. I passed and was admitted in Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts in UP Diliman. Let me tell you, until now I am thanking God for bringing me to that department. Who I am today has been influence by my UP training as a Speech Communication major.

During all this time, there is something that didn’t change: I am a girl scout. This has exposed me to be independent, to lead others, and to empower girls. In 2006, I became a volunteer at the National Headquarters in Manila that gave me the opportunity to participate in national, as well as international events.

God is with me through all this journey in knowing what my true calling is. My spiritual family also helped me understand God more, and helped me in developing my relational skills.

Put all this together, my heart beats to be the voice of young girls and women. I want to be forever an advocate for young people. Being an advocate is not a profession, it is a way of living. God has blessed me with skills that I can use efficiently. On every opportunity I am asked to speak, I know it is an opportunity to influence lives. Extending help to every needy is helping myself as well. This is my way to change the world.

Last November 2, 2012, I went to the UN High Level Panel meeting with young people in London. There was uncertainty, but I know I will be there to fulfill what I have been wanting to, that is to represent the voice of young people. True enough, I was given a chance to speak in front of eminent persons around the world, and other young people with the same passion. It was surreal; I was on the verge of crying because I was overwhelmed with that once in a lifetime opportunity. I was there, standing, in behalf of the young people worldwide.

My heart belongs to the young people, if I would specify it would be the girls and young women. I envision a world where every girl goes to school, where she has access to health rights, where she is given the voice in the decision-making, where she is empowered. Reality tells us that we have to do more to achieve that vision. I want to be the change; I am doing my role in this society for my dream to become a reality.

Only few people discover the path they want to take at a young age. I am grateful I discover it this early, so that I can have every chance to develop this passion and live a fulfilled life.

You are not too young or too old to know what your true passion is. During one of the speeches of a Korean advocate Ms. Hana Biya, she asked everyone a significant question we need to answer in life: What makes your heart beat?

I am asking the similar question to you. Go find it.