This Filipino weightlifter from Zamboanga City rose to fame after winning a silver Olympic medal in the 53-kg division of the women’s weightlifting event during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ending the 20-year Olympic medal drought of the Philippines. An Olympian since 2008 who has won medals in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games, she is now eyeing her first Olympic gold medal at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Dr. Mikaela Fudolig is a UP (University of the Philippines) “whiz kid” who finished her undergraduate degree in physics at the young age of 16 years old. She is the youngest of those who graduated Summa Cum Laude from the prestigious university, having a general weighted average of 1.099. In 2014, she completed her doctorate degree and just last year, she passed the University of the Philippines College of Law Entrance Examination.
Dr. Erika Fille Legara holds an undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degree in physics from the University of the Philippines. She was based in Singapore as a physicist, working for the government’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research on data-driven urban systems, but she has decided to come home. That’s because the Asian Institute of Management opened its doors for the first formal Data Science program, dubbed as the “sexiest job in the world,” with Dr. Legara as its academic program director.
Filipinos know her as a TV host and actress who’s also a full-time mom to an adorable trio: Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin. Married to Filipino basketball player Doug Kramer, their family, known as Team Kramer, became popular endorsers and one of the most followed groups on social media. Aside from attending to her family, Cheska finds time to work on a joint passion project through a series of workshops that aim to empower mothers.
Ginger Arboleda is currently the general manager of Manila Workshops and chief operating officer at Taxumo, a web-based tax compliance app that helps small-medium businesses and freelancers compute and pay their taxes. As stated in her bio, she used to be a banker but decided to quit the corporate world and focus on being a mom/wife, a blogger, and an entrepreneur/business coach.
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is known for successfully combining fashion, sustainable development, and social enterprise. As the woman behind Rags2Riches, a fashion and design house which empowers local artisans from a big dump site in Payatas City by helping them turn scraps of cloth and organic fabrics into wonderfully-made rugs, it’s no surprise that Reese appeared on Forbes’ list of social entrepreneurs under 30 in 2015. Rags2Riches is one of the social enterprises in the Philippines that gained success, having a consistent annual growth in the company’s first 5 years.
Online news site Rappler might be a startup, but when it comes to innovative journalism, this independent social news organization is making its mark on the industry. Its founder Maria Ressa has almost two decades of experience at CNN and was formerly the head of the news and current affairs department for the Philippines’ big media conglomerate ABS-CBN. Apart from being a source of local and global news, Rappler’s big boss also ensures that their organization leverages on technology and serves as a platform for civic engagement.
Armie Jarin-Bennett is currently the president of CNN Philippines, which she considers a demanding job, yet something that she loves and that makes her feel fulfilled. She started as a production assistant at CNN’s headquarters in Georgia in 1997, and from then on, she took on other positions such as becoming a floor director, teleprompter operator, video journalist, and writer, before becoming an executive producer. She is living proof that hard work eventually leads to success.
Having filled a senatorial seat in the Philippines for two terms, former Senator Pia Cayetano was known for her works in support of women and children, such as the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710), Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028), and the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (RA10152), to name a few. Now a congresswoman of the second district of Taguig City, this lawyer-entrepreneur is also a supporter of Bike for Hope, which raises environmental awareness and promotes a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos.
In September 2016, the Philippines mourned, as it had lost a great leader. The former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. Having served as a senator for three years, Miriam won the hearts of Filipinos for her undeniable wit, courage, and powerful speeches and one-liners (found in her famous book). In her remaining months, she showed how she could bravely face cancer when she ran for the 2016 Philippine Presidency. The Filipinos might have lost her, but this political leader’s legacy will live on.