Prior to moving to the United States, I never quite understood what it was like to be treated differently because you were a woman in the boardroom. Ever since my career began in 2007, strong and powerful women (including The Sunday Times Magazine/The Manila Times Lifestyle Editor, Miss Tessa Mauricio-Arriola) have always been my mentors.
A resilient woman also raised me and my father has never once told me that I could not achieve something. In fact, gender has never been an issue in our household. Moreover, every company I had worked for had women in power further fueling my desire to become a woman who can make a difference.
The Philippines is very welcoming of women leaders and women in general: men love their wives and respect their mothers. Women are heard, respected, and given the chance to shine. This has always been the trajectory of my career: I knew I could be heard even if I was the only woman in the room; I knew that if I spoke out, people would listen to me and not see gender. I have always been my own person and never allowed a relationship to define who I was. I was strong in my sense of self and a go-getter.
That was until I moved to the United States. For one thing, I am fighting against the fact that I am not from here. I have transitioned into living here but every day, I am fighting for my spot. I am working very hard against the prejudice of what Filipinos can and cannot do. Every day with the pride of my country on my back, I remind other nationalities that Filipinos are smart, well-educated, well-spoken, and hard workers.
I never quite felt the challenges of being an underdog until today. In the Philippines, I had the strength of my father’s name and my mom’s strong network to at least jumpstart on.
Here, I begin with a blank state and boy has it been challenging to get out of the pigeon hole. For the first time in my life, male figures flaunt their egos to prove that they are the better race and the better gender. And through these challenging times, humility is the key.
Though I am outspoken in nature, I have learned to hold back and often find other ways to prove my worth – whether by investing in myself through more education or in knowing that I am worth the fight. It can be disappointing at times but we must find the courage to not give up.
A lot of people would tell you that you cannot do it, especially as a woman. Despite today’s modern world, women are still told what to do, how to act, and what level they can reach at work. But as women, through our education, experience, and qualities that are uniquely ours, we can shatter all the glass ceilings in the world and we can prove that women run the world no matter how much they try to break us down.
Keep fighting the fight, dear woman reading this – you’ve got this.