THE International Women’s Day celebration organized by the Gender and Development Department of the Philippine Embassy in Berne, Switzerland showcased the Katutubo Tribute to Filipino Indigenous Women series of artwork by Pamela Gotangco Hupp and the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) leadership series books. The books are: DISRUPT 3.0. Filipina Women: Rising and DISRUPT 2.0. Filipina Women: Daring to Lead. The event was held on March 17 at the Tierpark Dählhölzli Conference room, Berne, a beautiful setting in the forest and the Aare river bank running through it.
Josephine M. Reynante, minister and consul general, opened the event and introduced Ambassador Denis Y. Lepatan, the Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Switzerland and Liechtenstein who has the rank of Chief of Mission I.
Ambassador Lepatan spoke about the social standing of women in Filipino society, of being regarded as partners in all aspects of life and governance. He highlighted the importance of the roles of women in the past, even before colonial times.
The Ambassador explained the reason why we call our country Inang Bayan, and that, at present, the Philippine Government has initiatives to address women issues in the global arena.
The Ambassador was joined by his wife, Madame Maria Teresa “Maite” Lepatan.
Consul General Josephine Reynante also highlighted the achievements of Filipino women with a special mention to FWN sister, Ambassador Delia Albert (FWN100(tm) Global 2014), of her accomplishments, including being the first career woman diplomat to become Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Minister) of the Philippines and in Asia. Then, she read Delia Albert’s Preface to DISRUPT 2.0. Filipina Women: Daring to Lead.
The Ambassador continues to believe that “there is a special place in heaven for Filipina women who help other women.”
The Embassy chose the chapters to be read based on what was deemed most relevant to the event and the audience.
Pamela Gotangco Hupp (FWN100(tm) Global 2018, innovator and thought leader, is a visual artist, motivational speaker, and Gotangco Art. Pamela read Angelica Berrie’s Preface in DISRUPT 3.0. Filipina Women Rising. Angelica, citing the American poet Maya Angelou’s use of the word “she-roes,” wrote that the book is full of “stories from Filipina ‘She-roes’ whose resilience, true grit, and creativity strengthen the larger narrative of Filipino peoplehood, womanhood, and nation-building.”
Lily C. Fen, a writer and editor of features and Filipino fantasy fiction, read Anny Misa Hefti’s (FWN100(tm) Global 2015) Stepping Over Stolpersteine. In her chapter, Anny reminded leaders that the “challenges should not overwhelm us; instead, we should turn them into opportunities. Failure is just a word. We can always start over again. This is the stand of a confident person. This attitude is what we need more of.” She concluded her chapter with the words of Nelson Mandela: “Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Lorena Clerc, Plan International Schweiz, read Leonor Vintervoll’s (FWN100(tm) Global 2015) Janteloven and Leadership. Leonor wrote that “being an overseas Filipino is not easy. In Norway, to succeed requires learning Norwegian and adjusting to cultural norms, such as janteloven, a word which can be interpreted as being egalitarian or that no one is better than the others and that might mean that individual differences are not tolerated in order to maintain peace.”
Leonor reminded global Filipinas that “retaining one’s Philippine national identity while assimilating into the host country’s culture is a challenge. For Filipinas, there is an added challenge of improving our image and of gaining respect.”
Ann Michelle Mondragon (FWN100(tm) Global 2018, Emerging Leader), a Global Communications Specialist, read Maria Victoria Anonuevo’s (FWN100(tm) Global 2015) Success Amidst Adversities. Maria Victoria (Marivic), who was Philippines managing director and chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines, added a summary of Gabriela Silang’s life. Gabriela “took over as the leader when she saw the troops were losing heart. She symbolizes the courage of the Filipina-even now, a leading feminist movement in the Philippines is named after her.” Marivic concluded that: “I would like to think that I too am a Gabriela, and for that matter, every Filipina can be a Gabriela when circumstances call for her to be such.”
Consul General Josephine Reynante expressed her gratitude to FWN for sharing the leadership stories of Filipina women. She mentioned that the chapters read were empowering and wished FWN and its members more power in creating a more balanced world. The audience started calling each other “She-roes” after the reading. Members of Samahang Pilipina Bern who were part of the audience expressed pride in Anny Heft’s chapter. Hefti was the founding leader of the organization.
After the presentations and readings, the participants viewed an exhibit that featured Pamela Gotangco Hupp’s Katutubo Tribute to Filipino Indigenous Women. The Katutubo series is Pamela’s tribute to all indigenous Filipina women. Pamela’s aim is to encourage the audience to learn more about their culture, traditions, and mythology by looking up the words written in the clothing of most of the pieces. Ambassador Denis Y. Lepatan and his wife, Madame Maite Lepatan are shown with the pieces they liked best.
Photos courtesy of Pamela Gotangco Hupp and the Philippine Embassy in Berne.