(From left) US Embassy Press Attaché Molly Koscina, the author, P&G country government relations manager lawyer Mimi Lopez-Malvar, US Embassy Economic Counselor Lynne Gadkowski and Ford Philippines AVP for government and corporate affairs Josephine Gonzalez.
‘Marvelous Women’ (& men, too)
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2019 - 12:00am

This superhero is a woman.

Captain Marvel is a 2019 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers and she is “Marvel Studios’ first female solo lead in history” at the time she was created.

Brie Larson as ‘Carol Danvers’ in the 2019 box-office hit Captain Marvel.

According to published sources, as of March 27, 2019, Captain Marvel has grossed $330.8 million in the US and Canada, and $607.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $938.1 million. It is reportedly currently the highest-grossing film of 2019, and the 10th highest-grossing superhero film of all-time.

Hooray for marvelous women!

*  *  *

Many women are superheroes in their own right.

How apt that in celebration of Women’s Month, the US Embassy in Manila hosted its third annual “Marvelous Women” networking activity, a forum for women leaders to interact. In particular, the embassy paid tribute to Women in Business like lawyer Mimi Lopez Malvar, country government relations manager of P&G; Josephine Gonzalez, Ford Philippines assistant vice president for government and corporate affairs; and US Embassy Economic Counselor Lynne Gadkowski.

Women from various fields gathered at the C Lounge of the Conrad Manila to meet other women, including government leaders.

Aside from the three accomplished women in business, also present were Sen. Risa Hontiveros; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) adjutant general Brig. Gen. Emma Ignacio and Col. Sharon Hernale, wing commander of the tactical operations command of Eastern Mindanao; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier; the US Embassy’s Press Attaché and First Secretary Molly Koscina and Deputy Counselor for Economic Affairs Zeenat Syed.

The two women from the AFP can fly planes, and I learned from them that there are now 70 female pilots in the air force.

There were marvelous men in the gathering, too, including Deputy Chief of Mission John Law and Counselor for Public Affairs Philip Roskamp.

*  *  *

In an interview with the US Embassy team, P&G’s Mimi Malvar said that when she started her role in the company, she was also starting a family.

“I am happy to say that after 10 years, I continue to have a thriving career and I am able to spend quality and quantity time with my family,” she said. Yes, it can be done. (She told me she has children between the ages of seven and two, and is now expecting her fourth child! One of the secrets to her success is another woman — the caregiver of her children while she is at work.)

Ford’s Josephine Gonzalez said she had difficulty at first working in the automotive industry. “It’s a male-dominated industry. (But) I told myself we are all the same.”

Lynne of the US Embassy said she has encountered situations when she was the only female at the table, and though sometimes this can be, “a little bit lonely,” it also gives one greater opportunity to have one’s voice heard.

“Sometimes you realize you have a greater opportunity to have your voice, some of the issues that you champion and hold dear. And a perspective that is probably different from those around the table to share and advance.”

Now, what advice would these three successful women give to their younger selves?

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law, AFP Brig. Gen. Emma Ignacio and US Embassy Counsellor for Public Affairs Philip Roskamp.

Mimi: “Many of the best decisions that I’ve made were done after going out of my comfort zone. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Josephine: “Believe in yourself. Be bold because there will be a lot of challenges and pursue your passion.”

Lynne: “I would go back to Eleanor Roosevelt’s suggestion, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’.”

I asked myself the same question, what advice would I give to my younger self?

I would tell my younger self to “always seize the moment.”

In fact, it is the same advice I would give to my older self. I remember I met The Philippine STAR’s founding chairman, the late Betty Go-Belmonte on a Sunday afternoon when all I wanted to do was take siesta.

But my UP College of Mass Communications schoolmate Marlu Villanueva told me earlier in the week that a new magazine, STAR! Monthly, was being launched at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan that Sunday. It was going to be edited by the Betty Go-Belmonte, who trained many an aspiring editor.

I just knew I had to seize the day, so I roused myself from my siesta and begged my late father Frank Mayor (it was the driver’s day off) to drive me to Club Filipino. My father never let an opportunity slip by, especially for his children. So he also roused himself from his siesta to drive me, then a college junior, to San Juan from our home in Las Piñas. I think, as far as igniting my career in journalism was concerned, that was the best decision we both made.

So I would probably tell my younger self I did fine in listening to that inner voice that led to my meeting with the  marvelous Mrs. Belmonte.

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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