Arts and Culture

Women’s Month: Filipinas share inspiring stories of survival in male-dominated media world

Dolly Dy-Zulueta - Philstar.com
Womenâs Month: Filipinas share inspiring stories of survival in male-dominated media world
From left: Freelance journalist and Philstar.com contributor Maan D’Asis Pamaran and Philstar.com Managing Editor Kristine Daguno-Bersamina
Philstar.com/Maan D’Asis Pamaran, Kristine Bersamina

MANILA, Philippines — Mother, daughter, sister, survivor. The following women add another feather to their cap: journalist. 

This International Women’s Month, the following are just some of the women who shape hearts, minds and the news. They share how it is to balance life and career in the male-dominated world of media.

Superwoman single moms

Philstar.com Managing Editor Kristine Daguno-Bersamina

Prior to joining the media, Philstar.com Managing Editor Kristine Daguno-Bersamina had almost 10 years of experience working for a private investigation firm focused on intellectual property, brand protection and fraud investigations. She started to work as a technical writer for the company in 2005 until she became a communications manager.

In 2015, Kristine started a career in journalism as an editor for content marketing of Philstar.com. She was promoted to managing editor who oversees and coordinates the digital newsroom's operations.

She is a part of the diverse and independent panel of accomplished media practitioners carefully selected and vetted to be among the judges of the prestigious Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards since the pandemic.

Kristine is inspired daily by her two children, whom she single-handedly raised with love after losing her husband in a vehicular accident. In her free time, Kristine likes to play arcade games and watch Netflix with her kids.

Women's empowerment tips and message:

“It’s difficult to fathom the magnitude of challenges that women still face today. The culture and standards may be changing but our battles aren't over yet. To feel empowered, you have to think that you are empowered. No matter how much you want to give up, always believe in yourself that you are capable of rising above any adversity. You have to keep a large amount of courage and bravery to become the best version of yourself.”

Freelance journalist Maan D’Asis Pamaran

A freelance lifestyle journalist and a Philstar.com contributor, Maan D’Asis Pamaran has been writing professionally for 25 years, 16 years of which have been spent doing freelance work for different media outlets and corporate clients. She is a mother of four boys and a “furmom” to two cats and a dog. She uses her platform to empower Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) victims, having been one herself.

Women’s empowerment tips and message:

“For women who are going through abusive relationships, don’t be afraid to seek help and to leave. There is no need for you to live in fear or shame, because it is not your fault. There are resources available, and friends and family members who will readily support you when you tell them of your situation. You have the right to feel safe in your own home. Then, when you feel ready, share your own story, so that you can also give encouragement to others who are going through the same situation.”

Juggling media and many passions

Nestly Anne P. Abadier, Project Manager / Editor of Sanctum Press Inc.

Nestly Anne P. Abadier, Project Manager / Editor of Sanctum Press Inc., is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Southern Luzon State University. She used to work for Psicom Publishing Inc. as an editor for almost three years before taking a leap of faith wandering in the majestic land of Vienna, Austria, where she learned life the bitter-sweet way.

Going there and coming back home after six years has been her bravest decision so far, but it has taught her the greatest lesson of contentment.

She is currently working in the comfort of her own home with their family pets. Life’s not always a ray of sunshine, but working out at home keeps her sane and in shape. Of course, her family and loved ones are key too!

Women’s empowerment tips and message:

“You define your own power and riches. Values that lie within you are still the greatest treasure that the world’s riches can’t compensate for. Don’t let the world dictate who you should be.”

Dinah Sabal Ventura, Managing Editor & Lifestyle Editor for Daily Tribune

Writer at heart, Dinah Sabal Ventura, Managing Editor & Lifestyle Editor for Daily Tribune, carved a career in journalism starting with Business Star, which was created by a woman, Betty Go Belmonte; and worked for and with woman editors like Daily Tribune founder Ninez Cacho Olivares. 

Woman empowerment tips and message:

“Juggling roles is a universal challenge to women. In all ways, we are called upon to balance — to adjust, find that space between gentleness and strength. How do you keep a balance? Between family duties and work responsibilities, it can be so easy to lose your sense of self. Balance is achieved when you are centered. Take time to stop all you are doing. Take a minute for your spirit. Breathe, pray, meditate, sing, dance. Do it for you. In all things, listen to what your soul tells you. Stay true to yourself because when you feel whole as an individual, you can be at your best for others. Practice honesty on yourself. Everything else will follow.”

Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor of The Manila Times and The Sunday Times Magazine Editor

When young ladies her age were too occupied with planning for their sweet 16, Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor of The Manila Times and The Sunday Times Magazine Editor, had already begun her journalism career.

Returning from secondary studies in England's Thornton College in 1994, she applied to The Manila Bulletin to fill her year gap. Having enjoyed her experience as part of her boarding school's editorial team for the monthly Thorntonian, she hoped that despite her age, she would land an "extended summer job" of sorts at the national daily.

Taken in and trained no less by the pioneering editors of Entertainment and Lifestyle at The Bulletin Crispina Martinez-Belen and the late Dean of Lifestyle Editors, Ethel Soliven-Timbol, respectively — she was designated Contributing Writer for both sections. She eventually retained this post throughout her college years at The Ateneo de Manila University and also contributed to various publications upon invitation, among them, Mr. & Ms Magazine, Business Review Philippines, and Lifestyle Asia.

In 1996, legendary talk show host Lourdes Carvajal gave Tessa her first experience in television work. More popularly known as the iconic Inday Badiday, the late and beloved showbiz personality invited the then college freshman to host one of her entertainment talk shows, Channel S, on GMA Network, alongside two veteran showbiz scribes.

Badly bitten by the journalism bug, she chose to forgo plans to enter law school after graduating from AB Social Sciences and instead opted to spread her wings in the news industry she came to love.

In October 1999, she bade fond farewells to The Manila Bulletin to become one of the youngest junior executives in the publishing by joining The Manila Times as Assistant Editor for Lifestyle.

Eager to gain experience in all three media avenues, she also co-anchored an entertainment and women-centered program over DZRV Radio Veritas for five years. Filling her mornings, she hosted a special segment titled “B.T.F. Atbp.” (Beauty, Trends, Fashion, At Iba Pa), where she entertained questions from callers seeking style, skincare and wellbeing tips. The program almost served as a spin-off to her weekly fashion and beauty column, “Hemlines and Punchlines,” for The Times.

In March 2004, she took on the reins as the paper's Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor and concurrent editor of The Sunday Times Magazine. For several years, she was further designated Managing Editor of the Kiddie and Health News magazines, two former sister publications of The Times under the Ang family’s Kabayan Group of Publications.

Soon after marrying businessman Je Arriola in December 2006, she went on a two-year sabbatical in the United States. A few months into her hiatus, The Manila Times assigned her as North American features correspondent, regularly profiling successful Filipino immigrants on the West Coast.

In 2010, shortly after returning to the Philippines with her young family, her family in publishing invited her to rejoin the company in her former capacities, since reestablishing the paper's Entertainment and Lifestyle sections, as well as The Sunday Times Magazine, with a young and talented team in staff writers Christina Alpad and Iza Iglesias.

With the advent of social media, Tessa took on management's challenge to conceptualize and produce a complimentary weekly online program across The Manila Times' website and digital channels in 2019. Titled “The Manila Times CSI: Celebrity, Style Inspiration” (the tagline she gave The Sunday Times Magazine on its relaunch 10 years ago), the show is now on its fourth season and has settled into a virtual production set up through the pandemic.

Making sure to share the opportunity to explore the ever-evolving ways of delivering the news with her equally passionate staff, she serves as CSI's primary host with exclusive weekly celebrity interviews. She meanwhile assigned regular segments and key production posts to the rest of her team, based on her reporters' best skills. The Manila Times CSI is directed and edited by the paper's video editing head, Neil Reyes.

To date, Tessa is hosting and producing an election special series titled The Manila Times Lights, Camera, Boto, where she weekly interviews candidates from across the country with the aim of empowering voters to make the right choices in the 2022 National Elections, based not only on personality but clear platforms as well.

Women's empowerment tips and message:

"As our hearts, minds, pens and voices keep striving to do good in the home as we take care of our families, in the workplace with our fairness and diligence, and wherever our words may reach to inform and enrich other people's lives, let us never feel guilty about making ourselves feel good and look good while we're at it! Let's enjoy being women and everything that goes with being one."

Ronna Capili Bonifacio, Acting Editor in Chief of Summit Media’s Smart Parenting

Ronna Capili Bonifacio, Acting Editor in Chief of Summit Media’s Smart Parenting, is a homeschooling mom of three and published editor and writer with over 15 years of experience in digital and traditional/print publishing. 

Women’s empowerment tips and message:

“I think Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it best, we should all be feminists. As for myself, I quote: ‘I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be’."

Carla Perlas, Vice President of Communications at parent-tech company The Parentinc

Carla Perlas is the Vice President of Communications at parent-tech company The Parentinc, whose triumphs include: theAsianparent, the world’s highest-rated parenting app and Southeast Asia’s largest content and community platform for parents reaching 35 million users monthly; Mama's Choice, an award-winning direct-to-consumer brand that manufactures and retails safe, natural, and Halal pregnancy, nursing, baby care, and household products; and Webtretho and Bé Yêu, Vietnam’s largest community platforms for women and mothers.
Carla has over 19 years of experience in the media, tech, and startup space, and has dedicated her career in developing content and building communities catering to women and parents. She has led regional content and marketing teams to deliver reliable and relevant information to target audiences online and offline.

Outside of The Parentinc, Carla is an advisor for Mama on Palette, Singapore's first community supporting mothers to pursue happy parenting through art. She is also a member of WomenInPolicy.org, a thought leadership platform that elevates women’s voices in public policy and sustainable development.

Carla's biggest and most challenging role of all is raising two little girls to become the best versions they can be. Between work and motherhood duties, she's an avid home baker and a budding artist-entrepreneur building a polymer clay jewelry business.

Women’s empowerment tips and message:

“You are powerful and capable of creating change through your voice. So use your words, images, and stories to inspire, educate, and empower girls and women. Your unique perspective and experience add value to the media landscape and help shape the way people view the world, most especially the women, around them. You can challenge stereotypes and promote openness, understanding, and inclusivity. It's not always easy to be a woman in media. You may face discrimination, bias, and sexism in the workplace and in your personal life. You may even face resistance and discord in efforts to diminish or silence you. But remember that you are not alone, and there are many women who have faced similar challenges and can help you navigate and overcome adversity. So stay strong, stay focused, and keep pushing forward. Believe in yourself, your talents, and your abilities. Keep striving to create meaningful and impactful work, and know that your voice matters. Together, we can create a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse media landscape that reflects the true breadth of human experience.”

ANCX Managing Editor Rhia Grana in Singapore

ANCX Managing Editor Rhia Grana has been a jounalist for over two decades, working in women's magazines before her current stint at ANCX, the lifestyle and culture arm of ABS-CBN News Channel. She immensely enjoys chronicling the life and unique experiences of people from different walks of life because she believes there is always something worth learning in every person's life journey. 

Women's empowerment tips and message: 

"I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some really amazing women through the years. One thing their success stories taught me is that only we set our own limitations. There is no height or depth that we cannot reach if put our mind and heart into it. Our being women makes us special and allows us to thrive and excel in whatever field or endeavor we get into, and overcome whatever challenges that come our way. So don't believe those who tell you otherwise. Fly high and let no one or nothing stop you from doing whatever makes you feel happy, fulfilled and complete. You are a woman and that in itself is something to be proud of."

Right after graduating cum laude from Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with the highest academics award for working scholars and a Law scholarship offer from the University of Santo Tomas, an employer told Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo that she can never be a fashion editor because she was poor. She resigned right then and there to prove her ex-boss wrong.

Twenty years on, Deni, now Philstar.com’s Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor, has been a multimedia and print journalist for news sites, newspapers, magazines and non-government organizations. She is also a mom to two equally empowered girls and author of the Psicom-published bestseller “Mukhang Artista: 100+ Celebrities on Beauty and Makeup,” and the upcoming “Pormang Artista: 100+ Celebrities on Fashion and Style” and “Katawang Artista: 100+ Celebrities on Fitness and Diet” books by Sanctum Press Inc. As a London-accredited fashion journalist and a graduate of courses from Slim’s Fashion and Arts School in Manila and Bocconi University in Milan, Deni is also a fashion designer with her own business-registered fashion house and an accessories designer with a special citation from a national design competition.

Women’s empowerment tips and message:

“When I had two girls, at first I was afraid, I was petrified… No, seriously, because as a girl, I’ve been stereotyped to take the bulk of doing household chores. My dreams had to take a backseat to give way to my family’s needs – 'ate' or mommy duties first before anything else. Growing up, I was not expected to be better than guys. Boys were usually turned off by smart girls, so I told myself I would marry someone who had better grades than I did. I experienced discrimination and felt men’s insecurities whenever I exceled. I also suffered from harassment and abuse. I didn’t want my girls to be as vulnerable, which is why I initially wanted to have a son.

I still want a son, but now, I’m more thankful to God for being a girl with two daughters. Not only can I share my passion for fashion and shopping with them; they’re growing up with wisdom, confidence and endurance that make them better than many boys their age. If there are some things about being a female journalist that I want them to learn no matter what their future jobs might be, first, is that they shouldn’t let anyone define them or tell them what they should or shouldn’t do based on their gender. Most of all, purpose and advocacy, not money, fuel our girl power!”

About International Women's Month

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8, while International Women's Month is marked for the entire month of March. The global day celebrates women and what women have accomplished over the years and focuses on women’s rights, gender equality, women’s suffrage, violence against women, and other issues, both positive and negative, that have to do with women.

For centuries, women were discriminated against. They were seen as the weaker sex, inferior to men in all aspects, and were relegated to the home to be wives, child-bearers, mothers, nothing more. They had no right to education. To even contemplate on building a career was unheard of. They could not even vote or express their opinion on anything, much less politics. As the game-changing TV series "Maria Clara at Ibarra" has shown, women could not even defend themselves when men chose to abuse them. They had to bear their suffering in silence. They were raised to follow the men in their lives and not even question their motives.

But all of that changed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While most women still chose to remain silent and accept their fate as dictated upon by men, some brave women had begun to raise their arms in protest.

It’s a phenomenon that occurred worldwide, and it is what led to the declaration and commemoration of the first International Women’s Day in Europe in 1911. It began with universal female suffrage movements that originated from labor movements in North America and Europe during the early 20th century. According to Wikipedia, the earliest version was a Women’s Day observance organized by the Socialist Party of America in New York City on February 28, 1909. This inspired German delegates at the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference to propose that a special Women’s Day shall be organized annually. The following year, 1911, it happened. The first demonstrations and commemorations of International Women’s Day took place across Europe. By 1913, International Women’s Day activities were held on March 8, and it became the set date for the celebration from then on. In 1917, women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia.

International Women’s Day was, in the beginning, associated with fat-left movements and governments, but when the global feminist movement adopted it in the late 1960s, International Women’s Day subsequently became a mainstream global holiday when the United Nations also adopted it in 1977.

Its observance varies from one country to another. Some countries have now made it an official public holiday. Others still look at it as a political issue, spending the day with political groups staging protests and calling for radical change. For most countries, it is now largely sociocultural and focuses on a celebration of womanhood and the achievements of extraordinary women.

In the Philippines, Proclamation No. 224 s. 1988, signed by then President Corazon C. Aquino, declared the first week of March as Women’s Week and March 8 as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day. She also signed Proclamation No. 227 s. 1988, providing for the observance of the month of March as Women’s Role in History Month. Finally, she signed Republic Act 6949 c. 1990, declaring March 8 as a working special holiday to be known as National Women’s Day. — With reports from Deni Bernardo

RELATED: Women's Month: 12 inspiring quotes from Cate Blanchett, Malala Yousafzai, powerful women


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