Change Magazine global correspondent Rasha Gobaco shares her experience at this year’s She Talks Asia Summit.
“Know what you want, know what you’re worth.”– G3 San Diego, writer, advertising, and promo strategist
As published in its website, the She Talks Asia organization has the most noble initiative, “…to spark, document, and sustain community conversations…to understand, unpack, and better appreciate the role of women and female-identifying individuals...”
After witnessing the hype on social media for She Talks Asia’s annual flagship event, I was excitedly anticipating its esteemed lineup and critical panel discussions. Entitled “We Are Enough,” She Talks Asia’s 2019 summit was held last March 16 at The Globe Tower, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines.
She Talks Asia Summit 2019
There were countless testimonies from women about insecurities growing up, struggles in male-dominated fields, and encounters with online bashers. Hearing their testimonies, I was struck by the strong speakers and their words that inspire women to speak out and assert themselves.
Just as fashion designer Mich Dulce mentioned in the panel discussion, Nurturing Relationships & Establishing Boundaries, I was urged to “stay grounded in values and beliefs” and to foster the best relationship women could have, which is with ourselves.
(From left to right) Panelists Mich Dulce, G3 San Diego, and Amanda Scully, and moderator Victoria Herrera
The importance of mental health was also emphasized as mental health awareness advocate Marc Soong, shared about his troubles in dealing with depression. In the segment Investing in the Wealth of Mental Health, licensed executive meta-coach Shiela Tan, called on the audience to change their self-deprecating mindsets using mental exercises, showing that anyone is capable of bettering their perspectives.
Speakers Marc Soong and Shiela Tan
Challenging the “Unconventional”
Not only did the summit have great speakers, but it also opened the floor to what may previously be conceived as unconventional. Especially moving was model Rissa Manaquil-Trillo’s account on being a teenage mother in her talk, The Journey to Saying “I Am Enough.”
Speaker Rissa Manaquil-Trillo
While I sympathized with her as she expressed her anguish in dealing with past criticisms and disapproval, I also felt her triumph when she proudly spoke of her distinguished modelling career. She was an example of how hard work could get people anywhere despite hardships. “I was never late to shoots. I could do my own hair and makeup. I would do anything the photographer asked me to,” Manaquil-Trillo shared.
I also admired the courage of couples Patrick Martin and Carlo Bautista, and Quark Henares and Bianca Yuzon who shared their love stories while promoting the #FreeToLove campaign. The two pairs broke stigmas surrounding gay couples and ‘big’ relationship age gaps, comforting and liberating those in the same situation as them.
(From left to right) Panelists Carlo Bautista, Patrick Martin, Quark Henares, Bianca Yuzon, and moderator Joey Mead King
A closing talk was given by actress, Judy Ann “Juday” Santos Agoncillo on Embracing Life’s Different Seasons as she conveyed the striking moments in her life where she learned to prioritize herself. “Showbiz was like a big playground to me but the older you got, the less popular or well-paid you become,” she said, expressing why she decided to study cooking.
(From left to right) Speaker Judy Ann Santos Agoncillo and host Iza Calzado
It was wonderful how her talk centered on moving on and focusing on self-love before finding love, as she had to do because of previous partners in her career’s endless love teams and TV dramas. “I expected as always that after the show, they [co-stars] would just leave but the person who I thought would also leave, stayed!” she joked, talking about her previous co-star and now husband Ryan Agoncillo. I wholeheartedly agreed with her main sentiment that it is the time you spend on yourself that helps foster real growth.
(From left to right) Founders of She Talks Asia Bianca Gonzalez and Iza Calzado, speakers Judy Ann Santos Agoncillo, Rissa Manaquil-Trillo, and founders Lynn Pinugu and Victoria Herrera.
Truly, She Talks Asia’s summit “We Are Enough” utterly challenged young women like me to critique societal constructs of gender norms, stereotypical roles, and beauty standards. The genuine narratives of these men and women building their lives from the toughest problems had me reflecting on how there is a need for people to open up about their insecurities. It is through sharing and learning from different kinds people in summits like these that one can gain wisdom in overcoming life’s challenges.
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