Fil-Am women we can be proud of
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

Filipino-American film director Ramona Diaz, the woman behind such acclaimed documentaries as Imelda, The Learning and Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, was recently hailed one of 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN).

The Filipina Women’s Network is a San Francisco-based non-profit professional organization for women of Philippine ancestry with members worldwide.

The Global FWN100 Awards honor Filipino women who are changing the face of leadership in their local communities and in the countries they now call home.

It is a much deserved accolade for Diaz, whose film Imelda, a full-length documentary about the former First Lady of the Philippines, garnered the Excellence in Cinematography Award for documentary at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and the ABCNews VideoSource Award from the IDA.

In an interview with FWN, Diaz said she makes films about “the Filipino experience for a global audience.”

“We are often represented as minor characters, even in our own narratives. We seldom see ourselves represented on the screen in a lead role,” Diaz noted.

Through her films, she intends to make a difference in the way Filipinos are projected.

“I hope to be impactful by changing those expectations and bringing our experiences to a global, mainstream audience,” she said.

The best part of being a Filipina woman leader is “upending expectations and stereotypes.”

Not that it has been easy. She told FWN: “Being a woman in the film industry is challenging enough. Being a woman of color in the film industry is a double whammy. Every day is about making myself visible and heard.”

Congratulations, Ramona Diaz. You’re not just being seen and heard. You’re being felt.

* * *

Another Filipina who has impacted on American life is Dr. Connie Mariano, the personal physician of three US Presidents — Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes.

According to published sources, Mariano, the daughter of a Navy steward, is the first Filipino-American of either sex to rise to rear admiral, and the first woman in the military to become the White House physician.

Recently featured in a documentary on the History Channel, Mariano was realistically portrayed as a silent power — hardly ever in the same frame as the President but always close by just in case…She had access to all three presidents, even to their living quarters.

In an emergency, the life of the US President was in her hands.

In the History Channel documentary, Mariano said there was only one higher authority that made President Clinton toe the line when they had an argument over his health.

She would tell the President she would report him to Mrs. Clinton, and only then would he follow doctor’s orders.





Skills training empowers youths

Here’s an industrial giant that has been teaching the youth “how to fish,” so to speak, empowering them for life.

After training some 800 youths in Mumbai, India under the GROHE Dual Tech aid project, the company launched a similar program in Tondo, Manila, where a new training facility was opened last month.

The programs of GROHE Dual Tech in the Philippines are targeted at socially disadvantaged youths aged 17 to 25 who are unable to obtain vocational training otherwise. Courses start twice a year with some 30 participants each and comprise a 12-month apprenticeship at the Training Center, including a six-week internship at a GROHE partner company. Thanks to their widely recognized graduation certificates, the young plumbers are not confined to the partner companies after finishing their training but can apply for a job with any other firm.

“In the six years that have passed since we launched our partnership with Don Bosco Mondo e.V. in India, we have achieved a lot and learned a lot. Our work has borne fruit and demand for our trained and skilled plumbers is huge. We now want to continue this strategy in the Philippines and offer apprenticeships to the young people of Tondo to give them a genuine chance to earn a living from skilled work. At the same time, our local partners will benefit from the availability of professionally trained plumbers,” GROHE management board member Michael Mager said during the inauguration.

The inauguration ceremony, during which the building was blessed, was organized jointly by the Salesians of Don Bosco and GROHE together with apprentices from other disciplines of the Don Bosco Youth Center in Tondo, Manila. Besides the new Plumber Training Program, the Center already offers apprenticeships in other fields, from mechanical and electrical engineering to accounting, home economics and hospitality, as well as milling, turning and welding. The ceremony was attended by guests from the local business and academic communities as well as German Ambassador Thomas Ossowski, and representatives of the German Chamber of Foreign Trade.

GROHE, a water fittings manufacturer, has a global workforce of around 6,000 people. There are about 2,400 employees working in Germany, where GROHE runs three production plants. In 2014, the company generated consolidated sales of 1.2 billion euros.

(You may e-mail me at

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with