Courage and lipstick on: The moments that make us strong

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Courage and lipstick on: The moments that make us strong

Art by DR Castuciano

It's the little acts of courage that help us power through

Courage doesn’t only mean epic acts of heroism. Courage is in the small things we do – those little acts that shape who we are and give us strength to power through a grueling day. 

Courage is In the choices we make, like putting on lipstick to face the authorities possibly serving your office a closure order based on trumped up charges (true story!). Courage is also taking a pause to catch your breath when everyone’s just in a rat race, belting out your “strong” song when the world around you seems crumbling down, or even just sitting down with a cup of coffee before jumping into the whirlwind of work. 

At Rappler, we often say #CourageOn, but what does it look like? I asked some of my colleagues what things they do to make them feel brave. How do they get their game face on? What helps them power through a tough day?

Makeup on

It’s putting a brave face on, literally. For Rappler head of Regions Inday Espina-Varona, it’s all about the eyes. “If I have to face people, a little eyeliner and light shadow makes me confident about engaging their attention.” Multimedia producer Jaira Roxas says that, on heavy news days, she puts on earrings, fixes her eyebrows, and puts on lipstick. According to her, “that instantly makes me feel like I am ready for the day.”

Inner songster on

Mindanao editorial coordinator Herbie Gomez recounts the days in a previous company where they would do impromptu jams. There was always a guitar ready to pick up and play when the news cycle was getting too hectic. Until now, he says: “I pause, get my guitar, and sing my heart out. And then write again. The best stories and editorials I’ve done, based on my standards, happened when I was under pressure – or angry.” When Visayas editorial coordinator Ryan Macasero is down or feeling discouraged, his go-to song is Beyonce’s “Freedom.” He says, “I play it a couple of times and rock out to it in my room by myself until I feel like I’m ready to take on the world.” During the campaign period, Rappler reporter Lian Buan had a playlist named “Hope” that she would sing along to, to keep her going.

Breathing exercises on

Breathing reminds us of our humanity – focusing and giving ourselves that space to have a moment with our bodies is important. Rappler investigative editor Chay Hofilena draws on her practice of yoga, which brings about this awareness. She says: “I am aware of the power of breath. I remind myself to inhale-exhale correctly to ground myself. Inhale to fill up my chest and diaphragm with positive energy and strength, and exhale all toxicity – ang dami (there’s a load of that!)”


Perfume on

As our lives shift towards more screen time, the power of scents become even more apparent. Sometimes the simple act of spraying perfume can make us feel better and improve our moods. Tapping into our sense of smell is a way we can remember those moments we felt courageous. This is also part of Chay Hofilena’s routine before she heads out to the Rappler newsroom. 

Dance tunes on

On March 4, 2021, Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa was called to the witness stand for the first time. That morning, she tweeted:

Art and literature on 

Rappler reporter Sofia Tomacruz looks to other journalists to remind her of the value of the work she does. “I usually reach for the work of other journalists and artists that move me. Doing so inspires and reminds me that great work can come from tough days,” she says. Currently, she is reading Love and Other Ways of Dying by the journalist and author Michael Paterniti.  She also remembers to celebrate wins when she can.

Podcast on

Listening to and learning from others help in knowing you’re not alone. Rappler reporter Lian Buan shares that she jumpstarts her day by listening to podcasts related to the topics she covers. As a justice reporter, she often listens to legal podcasts because “it helps to know that someone, somewhere out there, can maybe relate to what I am about to go through.” 

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Family mode on

Rappler head of Creatives Emil Mercado says he finds joy in the mundane things, like watering the plants, cooking, and spending time with his family. He is aware that these things are not to be taken for granted, “knowing that everyone is facing their own struggles every day.” He takes comfort in the fact that he is still able to do these things despite everything happening around him. Rappler technology editor Gelo Gonzales puts family first and thinks about how he could help his parents in the future and perhaps be an example to his siblings by showing up for work every day. These things give them the semblance of normalcy and control that they need to feel brave. 

Courage is contagious

Overall, these little courageous acts inspire. As Jaira Roxas explains, “I’d like to think that the kind of environment we have, our newsroom culture, the way we work with each other – these are just some of the things that make courage a part of us. It’s also a big thing for me that the people I work with are just as determined as I am. Whenever I feel tired or discouraged, I just look at the people I work with – my boss, my co-producers, our video editors, our production specialists, my team, and the other units across the company – these people are working hard and pushing through, and that’s where I find the courage and the drive to push through, too! So I really think courage is contagious.”

These are the moments that make us strong and brave. What about you, how do you #CourageON? Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #CourageON or reply to our social media posts. If you’re a Rappler+ member, you can respond on the comments section of this page. – Rappler.com

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