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How these Filipina celebrities inspire people

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March is Women’s Month when their significant contributions to history and society are honored.

In the Philippines, several celebrities epitomize women empowerment as seen in their determination to succeed in their respective pursuits.

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LEA SALONGA

At age 18, she played the lead character Kim in the musical “Miss Saigon,” first in West End then on Broadway. She later won the Olivier and Theatre World Awards for her performance, and also became the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award.

Lea is the first Filipino artist to sign with an international record label, Atlantic Records, in 1993.

In a previous interview, Lea admitted she is quiet amazed by the longevity of her career.

“I guess God still has plans for me,” she said.

In 2010, she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. She recently released “Bahaghari,” an album with 15 traditional folk songs, representing various regions and dialects.

Known to be outspoken, Lea once commented about the Reproductive Health Law, which was passed into law in 2012.
“I want every Filipino woman empowered with information regarding all options available to her regarding family planning. I want every Filipino to be armed with the right education regarding their bodies in the context of sex and reproduction; to exercise their free will in ensuring the quality of life based on their own personal, religious, and moral convictions and beliefs; and to have a fighting chance at a better life,” read one of her famous posts on social media.

VILMA SANTOS

From being an actress to public servant, Vilma is every inch the Star for All Seasons.

She holds the titles Grand Slam Queen, Queen of Queens, and as the longest reigning box office queen of Philippine cinema. She, who is known for doing films with political issues such as “Dekada ’70” and “Sister Stella L.,” was hailed as the Enduring Grand Dame of the Philippine Film Industry by a foreign critic at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the first Filipina actress to have gotten such a title.

The 65-year-old made history when she became the first woman to be elected consecutively as mayor of Lipa, then governor, and now representative of the province of Batangas.

MAYMAY ENTRATA

Who would have thought that a simple young lady from Camiguin would become an international model?

Maymay won the reality TV show “Pinoy Big Brother: Lucky 7,” where she is paired with Edward Barber otherwise known as MayWard.

The two released their first film together titled “Loving In Tandem” August last year. The trailer of the film reportedly reached two million views in less than 24 hours, clinching the number one spot on Twitter.

Maymay’s biggest achievement to date was gracing the catwalk of Arab Fashion Week. She was personally invited by celebrate designer Furne One, together with fashion PR Josh Yugen, to be Amato Couture’s muse for its Pre-Fall 2019 collection. The internationally renowned Filipino fashion designer has dressed several international superstars, including Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj.

“Nakakaiyak lang isipin na dati pinapangarap ko lang ang nararamdaman kong ’to,” the 21-year-old model and actress wrote on Instagram. “’Yung tipong ’pag iniisip mo s’ya kay hirap na abutin pero minsan pala pag pinabayaan mo lang at marunong maghintay sa tamang panahon kung para sayo talaga ibibigay sayo.”

PIA WURTZBACH

Pia gave the Philippines its third Miss Universe crown after 42 years.

But her success didn’t happen overnight.

This lady from Cagayan de Oro joined Binibining Pilipinas in 2013 and 2014, but failed to secure a major crown.
Finally, on her third attempt in 2015, she was crowned Miss Universe-Philippines, which automatically made her the country’s representative to Miss Universe that year. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Her journey taught her one lesson in life: Never give up on your dreams.

Now, she’s busy with different projects. She signed a contract with WME/IMG’s IMG Universe division where she will continue to work with the Miss Universe Organization as an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate.

She was also named UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific. Last year, Pia supported the passage of the pro-LGBT SOGIE Equality Bill, which has been lingering in Congress since 2000.

Here are some inspirational quotes from Pia:

On Filipina beauty queens – “We have confidence that is not forced. It is in your blood.”

On gender sensitivity – “I am for gender equality…I am happy to represent everybody.”

On being comfortable with your own identity – “You can’t pretend to be somebody; you just need to be yourself.”
On being focused on your goals and accepting failures – “Never lose your faith… this will keep everything
intact.”

NORA AUNOR

She is known as Philippine cinema’s “Superstar” and is regarded by many as the People’s National Artist. The Hollywood Reporter called her “The Grand Dame of Philippine Cinema” for her performance in the movie “Taklub.”
Did you know Nora received 17 FAMAS Award nominations and was elevated to the “Hall of Fame” after winning five Best Actress Awards. She is the most nominated actress of Gawad Urian Awards with 20 nominations, winning seven. She has more nominations as Best Actress than any other Filipino actor in both FAMAS and Gawad Urian award giving bodies. She has won eight trophies from PMPC Star Awards for her work in television and movies, eight Metro Manila Film Festival, four Luna Awards, five Young Critics Circle Awards, a Cairo Film Festival award, an Asia Pacific Screen Awards, an Asian Film Awards, among others.

Nora said she wouldn’t be that Superstar if weren’t for Antonia, the mother-in-charge.

“Madalas tinatanong ng mga tao kung bakit ko naituturing na ‘best mom’ ang nanay ko. Ang sagot ko, unang-una kung wala ang nanay ko, wala din ako. Hindi ako makikilala sa industriyang ito kung hindi niya ako pinalaki, inalagaan ng mabuti. Dahil sa kanya kung bakit ako naging matatag at patuloy na lumalaban (sa buhay) ngayon,” she said in an interview last year.

According to her, the biggest lesson her mother taught her is to always be respectful of others.

“Ang aral na palagi niyang sinasabi sa akin eh, ’wag akong sasagot lalo na kapag matanda sa akin ke mali o tama ang sasabihin ko. At isa pa siyempre, ’wag na ’wag akong mananakit ng kapwa ko.”

CATRIONA GRAY

Of course, there’s Catriona Gray who clinched the country’s fourth Miss Universe crown last December.

Like Pia, she experienced several mishaps in her journey to becoming a beauty queen. She first joined Miss World Philippines 2016, but failed to clinch the crown in its international counterpart.

Two years later, she took a risk and joined Binibining Pilipinas.

She believes chasing one’s dreams doesn’t end with taking that brave first step. She thinks it’s an uphill journey that requires dedication.

Catriona encourages people, especially young girls, to face their fears as they pursue their passions with more confidence.

This woman personifies beauty and brain. Throw her questions about woman empowerment, political issues and, really, anything under the sun, and you will be amazed how much a woman of substance she is.

Here are some inspiring quotes from her:

On education and equal opportunity for women:

“I think women’s success should be determined by their skills, their choices and their character. It shouldn’t be determined by boundaries set by other people from the stigma, from their ignorance and from misunderstandings.”

On bashers:

“Sometimes, no matter how hard you work on it, there are people who will judge you and put negativity in your life. But there’s also good criticisms so whenever I read things like that on social media, I take time to assess myself and reflect on how those things would help me to be better as beauty queen and as a person.”

SARAH GERONIMO

From being kontesera to pop star, Sarah’s contributions to the entertainment industry has made her one of the most celebrated Filipino artists.

Born and raised in a middle class family in Santa Cruz, Manila, she started a career in music at age 14 after winning the television singing contest “Star For A Night.” She signed with music label Viva Records and rose to fame with the release of her multi-platinum debut album “Popstar: A Dream Come True.”

In her more than 15 years in the business, the 30-year-old has received 12 Awit Awards, eight Aliw Awards, 28 Myx Music Awards (the most in the award’s history) and a FAMAS Golden Artist Award.

She also successfully transitioned from being a singer to actress, having appeared in numerous films like “A Very Special Love,” “You Changed My Life,” and “It Takes A Man And A Woman.”

Last February, Sarah serenaded thousands of Catholic faithful during the historic visit of Pope Francis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We have to work hard for it. Hindi lang natin siya pinapangarap, hindi lang siya pinagdadasal. Kailangan mong kumilos,” she said in 2016 when asked for advice to young people.

CHARO SANTOS-CONCIO

The orphan who became a princess, the outcast who became a queen. When talking about humble beginnings, consider Charo Santos-Concio.

As ABS-CBN’s chief content officer, she is among prominent personalities responsible in making the network what it is today. But did you know that just like a real-life Cinderella minus the fairy godmother, she climbed the ranks from being a simple “probinsyana?”

Well, she did it all with hard work and passion for the entertainment industry.

“Honestly, I never intended to be where I am today. I never planned out my life the way it is now. I guess like many, I’m also full of self-doubts, insecurities and fears. I got rid of them one by one by opening myself to the challenges that came my way,” she recalled in an interview in 2017.

Asked about the secret to being a good leader, the “Eerie” star answered: “Being a good listener.”

She expounded: “I guess what makes me a good leader is the value I put in everyone I work with. Tinatao ko lahat, I don’t look at labels, titles, positions. I can look at a utility boy and a president of a company at the same level. I don’t take anyone for granted and I don’t look at them with judgment.”

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