Filipina Women Who Took the Road Less Travelled

Inspiration from Filipino women who put the extra in extraordinary

Results have no gender.

You know that, I know that, but we’re still finding our respective places in the century-old systems that our society has built for us. And some of these systems don’t look too pleasing for our sisters in the workplace. 

History has told us that women were late in terms of workplace and societal “contribution”. Cases in point: Filipino women were only allowed a voice in the law when we the 1937 Plebiscite was announced, most of the big universities worldwide only fully validated degrees for women in the late 1940s, and until now, women still hold less than 33% of the careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) arena

However, there are a few inspiring stories from our sisters in the workforce, that are great to revisit so we can get unique insight about “the road less traveled” for our fellow Filipinas. 

First off, we have Ann Kristine Peñaredondo. Ann is a Facebook Ads and Digital Marketing expert who currently resides and serves her clients from her home in Metro Manila.

Being the firstborn child, Ann delights in being the first person in her clan to venture working from home and tackling digital marketing. Most of the members in her family worked in the government, and she spent over a decade working for a couple of 8-to-5 jobs too. 

She traipsed from freight forwarding, to real estate, to education, and the good old government work. 

In 2008, she encountered a family tragedy—both of her parents hospitalized—that made her realize that she needed to earn more money. She studied internet marketing and ventured into Virtual Assistance. 

Virtual Assistance, or being a VA, is a common entrypoint in starting a career in digital marketing. Ann is quite a popular name in the local VA/ freelancer community because of her participation in multi-million Facebook ads campaign, her group coaching program, her social media visibility, and in-person speaking engagements. 

When asked about how she wades through a tech-inclined, marketing-heavy, male-dominated industry, she answers: “my work stands out because I seek to understand the entire business of my clients. I don’t want to get hired to get the money out of every gig. Even if I only do Facebook marketing, which may be a small thing to a big company, I also help the business see other aspects of their business that they can automate or delegate. This is how I win real brownie points with my clients.”

Women like Ann are brave enough to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship, and being a woman in tech. The industry is still very promising , and there’s a lot of things to look forward to because Philippines has a lot to open up for in tech. New investors coming in, new startups rising from the most unexpected places, and new processes unfolding before our eyes. 

Indeed, tech is a well-celebrated arena. In there, women are usually well-educated, well-connected, and work around a highly professional ecosystem. But this doesn’t mean that we forget about the ugly realities that women experience too. One example is an advocacy that was given utmost devotion by champion debater, Sharmila Parmanand.

Sharmila is an award-winning debater and public speaker. Currently, she coaches debate teams all over the world, and judges some of the most prestigious tournaments. She is doing her PhD in Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge, while working on anti-sex trafficking programs in the Philippines. 

With her background in the anti-trafficking sector and academic training in feminist social research, she shares that the best parts of her journey include learning from the sex workers themselves, about what they really do, and their assessment of their interactions with the state and broader society. 

Some days aren’t easy though. The biggest challenges involve gaining the trust of a stigmatized population, the ethical considerations behind asking questions that may lead interviewees to recall instances of abuse and violence, and ensuring that the research process is not exploitative. 

“I decided to do this because I felt sex workers have been excluded from the important conversations about the nature of their work, the specific forms of protection they prefer, and other policies that affect them,” Sharmila adds.

Sharmila is a heroine in her own right, and we are lucky that there are still women like her, who chose, day after day, to attend to the plight of other Filipina women who need inspiration and support. 

Speaking of heroes, we also pulled another story that is a mix of someone from corporate and public service. Meet Police Officer 1 Rona Buca.

Rona used to work as a Marketing Officer in the Marketing and Sales Department of one of the Philippines largest home builders. As a side gig, she also used to work on hosting and event organizing for pageants, weddings, and birthdays. 

Today, she spends her days in the office for clerical police duties, and then doing field work as well. As she is still starting out, she covers basic police presence and visibility, especially for events. When before, she used to wear makeup, stilettos, and held microphones, she now dons camougreen uniforms, holds guns, and walks in her combat boots. While she used to be at the stage, now, she assists in security while people celebrate their special days.

This has long been her dream. She always wanted to serve the people and believed that this was her deep purpose. Despite a decent Mass Communications degree plus a flashy events and marketing career, she admits to having a transformed mentality due to her new status and responsibilities. She now knows that she might have to sacrifice her own life to make lives livable for others. She now understand that she might be absent during Christmas or New Year’s Eve. And most of all, with the current administration, she vows to keep her reputation and the name of the Philippine National Police clean. 

“One of the greatest challenges is to continue performing the mandated tasks despite being in a vulnerable state and become more efficient in our personal lives,” she shares.

These Filipina women are just a very small percentage of those who work hard and bravely choose the road less travelled. As you can see, when you live your life with a deeper purpose, your most meaningful desires just come through the clutter and you’ll find your way soon. They chose unique—and to most, difficult— careers, but they are highly content with their lives, and they even contribute a lot of good to the society. 

If you know anyone, a fellow Filipina, a mother, wife, friend, or sister, who will need these words today, show them: results, success, and self-actualization has no gender. Time to crush it, sister! Writer/Image Source – Prime Press