women empowerment

‘You are limitless’: She Talks Asia Summit 2024 champions breaking stereotypes

Juno Reyes

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‘You are limitless’: She Talks Asia Summit 2024 champions breaking stereotypes

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With the help of speakers like Karen Davila, Leni Robredo, and Eugene Domingo, the She Talks Asia Summit 2024 sent off its attendees with the richest insights
‘You are limitless’: She Talks Asia Summit 2024 champions breaking stereotypes

MANILA, Philippines – Founded by Iza Calzado, Lynn Pinugu, Bianca Gonzalez, Victoria Herrera, and Sarah Meier, She Talks Asia has been organizing annual summits led by notable women, for women since its inception in 2017. For its 8th edition, held at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, on March 16, the She Talks Asia Summit took on the theme of “Breaking Stereotypes.”

The event champions the notion that rather than allowing yourself to remain boxed into the stereotypes attributed to women that have been passed on from generation to generation, you must step up to write your own narrative.

“Why is it important to break these stereotypes and rewrite your narrative, even? Because it’s the only way you can truly believe what you are capable of – and that is anything and everything, because you are limitless,” Calzado said in her opening remarks.

The She Talks Asia Summit featured Karen Davila, Leni Robredo, Shaira Luna, Abi Marquez, Larra Lasam, and Eugene Domingo, among others, as speakers. With this impressive roster of women who each had their own thought-provoking stories to tell, it was a day that proved to be nothing short of inspirational for all the other women in attendance.

Existing in a patriarchal society

In her speech, keynote speaker and She Talks Asia co-chair Karen Davila emphasized that oftentimes, it is women themselves who end up committing acts that prove to be harmful to other women – circumstances that come with living in a patriarchal society. It then becomes imperative that women work to challenge these biases, and in turn, unlearn them. 

CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES. She Talks Asia co-chair Karen Davila gives her speech at the annual summit’s 8th edition. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Davila spoke about how the princesses that little girls look up to are all rescued by men at the end of their stories, which are rife with stereotypes about how women should be. 

“These stereotypes are collective ideas of who we believe we are and we had nothing to do with it. It’s just ingrained in you and passed through generations. There’s only one hero during that period in time who didn’t need a man to rescue her, and that’s Alice in Wonderland. And yet no woman relates to Alice…. It is a challenge to get out of that thinking,” Davila said. 

Robredo also took the stage for a Fireside Chat, where select members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask her questions about motherhood and leadership in a male-dominated government. 

FIRESIDE CHAT. Atty. Leni Robredo answers questions from the audience. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Robredo shared that she had already practiced how not to react impulsively when derogatory comments came her way, which happened frequently when she was vice president and during her 2022 presidential bid. She said while this “superpower” was what helped her clear her mind, she acknowledges that not “offering an alternative narrative” was what allowed critics to push their own narrative of her. 

“When I was vice president, it was both good and bad. Good in the sense na sa sarili ko, hindi ako apektado, pero (that I wasn’t personally affected, but) bad in the sense that I wasn’t able to respond in the manner that I should have…. Because when you did not offer an [alternative] narrative, pinaniniwalaan ‘yung narrative nila (people believe their own narrative), and then you realize that that was the case, it was too late already,” Robredo said. 

Excelling in her field

Different women excelling in their respective fields then shared their insights on the She Talks Asia stage.

Shaira Luna – known by many as the gifted child from the milk formula commercial – opened up about the judgment she was initially subjected to when she decided to drop out of medicine to pursue photography and fashion.

Luna was joined by food content creator Abi Marquez, who was also ridiculed for deciding to continue her content creation despite finishing her hotel and restaurant management degree with Latin honors. 

CREATIVES. Abi Marquez and Shaira Luna share what it’s like to be in the creative field. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Nonetheless, these women continue to shine in the paths they have chosen to take, with each of them managing to eventually establish themselves as big, respected names in their fields. 

But with excellence comes passion for your craft. Thus, the She Talks Asia Summit 2024 also gathered women who have found what they unapologetically love to do – be it hosting, pursuing a career in the Esports industry, or even operating a “tita” fan club for a K-pop group. 

AUTHENTICITY. Ai Dela Cruz, Demai Granali, Jabba Tantay, and Denise Oyog share the ways they embraced their authentic selves through their passions. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“You owe it to yourself to be truly passionate about something, and that’s when your authentic self comes out,” said Denise Oyog.

On loving yourself and finding love

Burn survivor and motivational speaker Larra Lasam then detailed her story of survival, and how she broke free from the “victim mindset” to eventually empower herself. After the fatal accident that had left her with burn scars all over her face and body, Lasam had spent several years covering herself up – often wearing face masks and cardigans. 

But as a sudden wave of gratitude suddenly poured in one night, Lasam began to realize that she is more than her scars, more than societal norms, more than gender roles, and more than what people think of her. 

VICTOR, NOT VICTIM. Larra Lasam details her burn survival story, and how she overcame her victim mindset. Juno Reyes/Rappler

“Sure, we may have unfair circumstances that happened to us. But when viewed from the perspective we get to choose, these unfair experiences can become unfair advantages that will leave us with wisdom, transformation, and light, that only we get to have the experience of having,” Lasam said in her speech, emphasizing that she is not a victim, but a victor. 

Veteran actress and comedienne Eugene Domingo also shared the humorous yet heartwarming story behind finding love in her 40s. Domingo had met her husband Danilo Bottoni at an Italian film festival in 2014, at a time when she believed that she would be single forever. 

FINDING LOVE. Veteran actress and comedienne Eugene Domingo shares her love story with film critic Danilo Bottoni to the She Talks Asia audience. Juno Reyes/Rappler

Bottoni, a film critic, had interviewed Domingo regarding her film Barber’s Tales. Domingo drew laughs from the crowd when she shared that she had been taken aback when Bottoni had asked her if she was currently in love, only to find out later that he had actually meant, “What do you love to do?” 

Enchanted by Bottoni’s knowledge on the Philippine film industry, the Becky and Badette actress had set out to find the film critic after their interview had ended, but to no avail. The pair eventually reconnected through email and Instagram, not knowing that they would later tie the knot and live a happy, married life together.

The She Talks Asia Summit 2024 had truly proven to send its attendees off with rich insights from women of all walks of life. Its founders had said that it was the most ambitious summit to date – with the biggest speakers lined up but with the shortest amount of time to prepare. However, as Bianca Gonzalez-Intal said at the end of the event, “Today was a testament that we can do incredible things together.” – Rappler.com

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