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Health And Family

How empowered women empower women

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
How empowered women empower women
“If we're really happy with our lives, we want to share the love.” – Inka Magnaye.
@inkamagnaye via Instagram

“We must reject not only the stereotypes that others have of us but also those that we have of ourselves."

Before anything else, Happy Women’s Month to all my strong, hard-working, and beautiful, KasamBuhays! I pray that all your days would be a chance for you to learn new things, love yourself more, be better human beings, and live life the way you want it.

The quotation by Shirley Chisholm above is my favorite quote about being a woman. Chisholm was a politician, educator, and author and was the first African-American woman to be elected to the United States congress. Obviously, she was a strong-willed woman to be able to do such a notable accomplishment, but probably just like most women, she had to overcome numerous hurdles in life. Each one of us is a product of our past, we have a lot of challenges, we have our own ideas and stereotypes about ourselves, internal struggles that we need to overcome. But overcoming them starts with our own mindset, our inner strength and determination to prevail over them. It’s also important to find your tribe; the best support system from the people around you – family, friends, co-workers, etc. – who are being used by God to be instruments to show His love and support to all of us.

Inka Magnaye: Finding her voice

My guest on Pamilya Talk, voice actor Inka Magnaye, probably has one of the most popular local voices to date. Inka is the in-flight voice of Philippine Airlines, a voice project that she took on from her mother, Lindy, who did it in the 90’s. Her low, yet clear, feminine voice can also be heard on different advertisements and announcements.But Inka became a household name during the time that the pandemic hit. She now has a massive following on TikTok with 1.8 million followers and still growing, 780T plus followers on Facebook, 235T on Twitter, and 84T on Youtube. That wasn’t always the case though says Inka. “I have been creating and posting videos on Facebook for years now. Actually, I just saw a post from 2017 that came out from my memories on Facebook. I did the video in 2017 and it only has 85 views until now. My videos started its virality during the pandemic and now, we’re here doing the podcast. It’s been a fun journey,” shares Inka. Her content mostly consists of her being her fun 30 plus year-old self, but it also has a good mix of her giving tips on being a voice actor and demonstrating her reading talent prowess. “It’s the best way to get gigs so that people can hear your voice.”

Now that Inka is more visible online and gaining a lot of followers, unfortunately, not all comments that she receives from people are positive. Sometimes, she gets bashed because of her opinions or gets foul messages from men. “It’s challenging to get bashed because it also affects my mental health,” she shares.

Mental health is one of the things that Inka has been openly advocating about, as well as being comfortable and confident on your own skin. She also advocates body-positivity, which was obvious from her content on her social media. She takes it upon herself to speak out and defend her choices and actions from her bashers because that’s also one of her ways to empower her audience, especially her female followers. For her, the biggest challenge of a woman, in general, is having ownership and authority on what happens to their body.

“Sometimes, if a woman wants to become a mom, people would be fast to conclude that she wants to be just a stay at home mom, and that she’s lazy and doesn’t want to work. If women would say that they don’t want to have kids and that they want to focus more on their career, some would say that they should become a mom because that’s expected from them being a woman. I really don’t like that mentality. If you’re going to ask me about feminism, it’s being able to find strength, empowerment, and happiness in whatever you want to choose. Whatever you want to do, if you feel empowered with that choice, do it. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, especially ourselves, then I don’t think that there’s anything wrong,” says Inka.

It’s all in the family! Inka with the other voice actors in the family, her mom Lindy (left, the 1990s voice of the Philippine Airlines) and aunt Neneng (right, the voice of the MTRCB advisory).
Photo from Inka’s Instagram

She always wants her viewers to have a takeaway through her content. “I'm very happy living my life and I want to spread the happiness. If you're a truly happy person, you want other people to be happy as well. Only the bitter ones want to bring others down. If we're really happy with our lives, we want to share the love.”

Watch my complete interview with Inka Magnaye on this Tita Jing It’s Monday episode.

Overcoming our own struggles and stereotypes

Like Inka, these women that I had the pleasure of interviewing had their own stories and struggles to tell. Just like her, they all went through it head on and came out victorious by the grace of God and support of those who are near and dear to them. I was invited to be the emcee to Energy Development Corporation’s women’s day online program with the theme of “Empowered women, empower women.” We had with us two of their personnel, Pong Portia, EDC’s Head of the Leyte Area Administrative Support and Bel Manlapaz, EDC’s Comptrollership Head of Finance. We also had the co-founder and President of Gandang Kalikasan Inc, makers of Human Nature, Anna Meloto-Wilk. They’re successful now because of the inner strength that they have to muster with what they went through as well as the help of their support group.

Pong considers her battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma her toughest adversity. She had to undergo 12 chemotherapy sessions for 6 months. She was then accompanied by her mother, who’s a doctor, and was already 78-years-old at that time. During her treatment, her mother had to get a heart bypass, which made their tough challenge tougher especially with the rest of her family. “That journey was not just a test of physical strength, but also acceptance, perseverance, stamina, patience, as well as the strength of my bond with my family and friends,” says Pong. Both her and her mother survived that challenge in their lives and are continuously being grateful to God and their support system.

Bel’s life was not also a walk in the park. “If you really want something in life, you are going to find a way to get it; exhausting everything in your power to look for potential resources,” shares Bel. She grew up in a small town in Tarlac with seven siblings. At an early age, she experienced having insufficient food on the table, the difficulty of having a limited budget for everything, and selling excess vegetables from their backyard in the market. “I couldn’t play with kids my age because I was always beside my mother. I was her alalay,” says Ms. Bel. As early as 7-years-old, she was already cooking, washing clothes, and fetching water. That’s why she said that also at an early age, she told herself that when she grows up, she’ll make sure that she’ll have a better life and that she would never allow her future kids to experience the life that she had. That’s why in college, she persevered. She applied for scholarship after scholarship so the only thing that she needed to worry about was her transportation and daily allowance. Fast forward to her present state, because of the goal that she instilled in her head and her determination to reach that goal, she’s as successful as she’ll ever be.

The Human Nature team: Dylan Wilk, Anna Meloto-Wilk, and Camille Meloto-Rodriguez.
Photo from Human Nature

Anna described her childhood as “uneventful.” Maybe because compared to the likes of Pong and Bel who both went through a difficult phase in their lives, what Anna went through was more of a eureka moment. She was in first college when her father started Gawad Kalinga, which is a Philippine-based movement to end poverty. It was also this time that according to Anna, her father was having some sort of midlife crisis. “He was asking himself ‘what has he contributed to the world?’,” says Anna. Her father also mentioned that though he had succeeded in bringing up his family, he felt sad that everywhere he looked, poverty was rampant.

“That’s when he decided to go out from his comfort zone to go to Bagong Silang, one of the biggest squatter relocation sites in Metro Manila. He didn’t have an agenda other than to be one with the people,” she said. Anna also recalled that her father took her to Bagong Silang because he wanted her to be exposed to the harsh realities of what’s going on in our country. That’s when she met a girl her age who belonged to a gang. She said that sometimes she was a drug runner and moonlights as a prostitute to make ends.

“That moment I realized that we shouldn’t take for granted things that what we have. And sometimes, what we have is not entirely of our own doing. We do have to work hard and persevere but a big part of our success is also due to luck and the system that’s already been around us,” says Anna. She then had a light bulb moment that whatever work she’d be doing in the future, she’ll make sure that she’ll help those who are in need. “I don’t need to wait to be rich in order to help people. I put it upon myself to pay it forward.”

Human Nature, run by Anna with husband Dylan and her sister Camille, is a Philippine-based brand that produces natural, affordable personal care, cosmetics, and home care products. It’s being guided by its principles—pro-poor, pro-Philippines, and pro-environment. The brand provides livelihood through its Gawad Kalinga residents and communities.

It’s the strength within these women that took them where they are now— winning and empowering their co-women. But what also make them great is their acknowledgement that they couldn’t have done this alone. With the guidance and support of their friends and family, the belief in God and being grateful, their blessings continue to flow.

 

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Watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 4:00-5:00pm Monday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter,  and Kumu.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected] 

ANNA MELOTO WILK

INKA MAGNAYE

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S MONTH

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