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GIRLS TO THE FRONT: How These 3 Ladies Are Killing the Game

  • By Thea Manapat

Back in 2019, American singer, rapper, songwriter, and flutist Lizzo said “If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl — do your thing, run the whole world.” Lizzo comes at the heels of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Madonna, all the way to The Runaways, Chaka Khan, and Aretha Franklin-- who have been reminding women of their respective generations of their power, and inspiring them to change the world.

Throughout history, women have been running the world in every way they can. In every field and industry, women have played key roles. This fire of inspiration has been passed through the years. This women’s month, we let 3 supergirls freely tell their stories of how they continue to carry this burning torch into the future.

BLEW DAVID

Art director and Illustrator. Blew Studios.

Why do you make art prints and illustrations of Philippine flora and fauna?

I love natural history! I think it's really fascinating how nature works. Seeing things move makes me extremely happy. Content wise, I focus on Philippine Flora and Fauna because I want to allow my generation to connect to our own biodiversity, living alongside them not even knowing these beautiful creatures exist in a country like ours with 7,107 islands. I see that there’s a detachment in our education system when it comes to learning about our plants and animals, and I guess, this is my own small way of contributing to that so that we can protect them and give close attention to our environment now more than ever. Besides my advocacy, I also want to give life to spaces and celebrate nature and science as much as possible!

How does your being a woman influence the work that you’re doing?

Breaking gender stereotypes, especially now, empowers me. I wish for more women to create and choose a career path that they want. That’s also why I keep sharing my work and connecting with peers with the same mission. It feels great and exciting to be a woman, [to] have a voice and make a change. Women are powerfully creative creatures and I feel limitless.

Is there a female role model who has inspired you and encourages you to be brave and tell your stories through art?

A female role model who influenced me comes from a more personal place: my mom. Not exactly about illustration but how she’s fascinated with everything and wants to make things beautiful. I guess that’s something I think about everytime I draw. She motivated me to grow without any barriers and she pushes me to try new things and explore different areas as a creative, even at a very young age.

To be given that much support feels amazing and I’m forever grateful to have her by my side. But I also want to give a big shout out from my fellow Filipina creatives (friends) who have been carving their names as well in the scene. I feel very empowered from them and I see them as inspiration also to keep doing what I do.

DEBS BARTOLO

Community Organizer. Founder of Likha Initiative

What do you do in the Likha Initiative?

Likha Initiative is a volunteer organization focused on livelihood development, waste management, and other social relevant issues like COVID19 response in Muntinlupa City and in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Our journey started in 2018 as a response to scarcity of participative mechanisms on relevant issue resolution between marginalized communities and other stakeholders like the government. Our purpose is to provide spaces for development from the grassroots.

How does your being a woman influence the work that you’re doing?

In contrast to patriarchal leadership we often encounter in influential agencies for nation building, women are the most common volunteers and leaders in the communities we worked with, which strengthen the ethics of care among one another. This easily helped us to reach an understanding that empathy and compassion are the core of why we do what we do. As a young woman, I just gained more mothers to look up to when working with the communities.

In celebration of Women’s Month this March, can you share some she-roes or female role models you look up to and why they inspire you?

Frida Kahlo, on self love and courage.

Hannah Arendt, on political, ethical, and critical perspectives.

Maria Baylon as my first community development approach mentor who taught me the real essence of empowerment and participation.

The thousand mother volunteers who taught me about the beauty of community building and why hope still lies in the power of the masses.

Sister Ma. Francis Borje of Saint Francis Learning Center for her tireless and selfless support to the Aetas of Zambales

ALEX BRUCE

Rap Artist

Why do you make rap music?

I rap because it’s my passion and it’s what I wanna do. There’s something about rapping that makes me addicted to it. Some people think it’s a job — I mean, yes, it is, but it’s my hobby. I did it for fun and I’m still doing it for fun.

How does your being a woman influence your music?

When people hear the word “rap”, it’s always men that pop up in their mind. If not men, then violence, sex, money, drugs, killings — that’s what they think. It's important for me to keep on making music for us females to be recognized and heard. I’m trying to prove to people that not all rap artists are the same. Its not always about sex, money, drugs. So the next time people hear the word “rap,” they hear women inspiring, thriving, [and] hustling.

Do you have any advice for other young girls who want to be free to tell their stories through music?

I know you guys have probably heard this a thousand times but if you keep this in mind, you're gonna do great! “YOU CAN DO IT!”

First thing you need to have is confidence, how are you gonna prove to people that you’re capable of doing this and that when you're shy? Also don’t do this specific thing just because it’s popular now, it’s trending-- no. Do it because you wanna do it. And I’m here for you!

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Be Free to Tell Your Stories Too!

Like our three supergirls, every woman everywhere should follow their passions, blaze their own trails, and be free to tell their own stories however they want. Every push for progress is a step forward for all women. So grab your sisters and be free to tell your stories now with#FreeStoriesforAll, which gives you 1 GB/day, plus 1 GB/day more for FB, IG, TW and Tiktok. To learn more, visit https://smart.com.ph/Pages/freestories.