Airbnb celebrates Pinay power with the inaugural #WomenInTravel industry dialogue
It’s a known fact that traveling for women—especially without a companion—isn’t exactly the safest. But times are changing, albeit slowly. Traveling, admittedly a form of luxury for many, offers lifelong lessons that one can only learn through surveying different places and cultures.
This International Women’s Month, Airbnb proves that traveling is an act that empowers females. According to reports from the online marketplace for short-term homestays and experiences, the Philippines is surprisingly the second-largest women-powered Host community in the world. In 2022 alone, Filipina Hosts collectively earned P2.5 billion.
At the recently concluded inaugural #WomenInTravel industry dialogue, Airbnb gathered women of influence from all fields to share how traveling empowers them. If you needed more reason to spontaneously book that Airbnb or say yes to that Piso Fare Promo, this is the sign you’ve been looking for!
A lot of people may not know that one of the most renowned Filipina public servants, Honorable Maria Josefina “Joy” Belmonte, Mayor of Quezon City, is actually an archaeologist by profession. Before she delved into politics, she backpacked all over the world—on the cheap, she emphasizes—and has already visited 53 countries.
On how traveling can empower women, she explains the “three As.” She notes, “I believe that travel is empowering because there are three As that, I think, are subsequent to how women are empowered. Agency, when you are able to do things on your own; authority, people start to respect you because you do things on your own; and autonomy, you become independent because you learn to make your own choices,” She further adds, “Traveling forces us to adopt those three As in order to achieve what we want to do—to learn something new—and that, in itself, is also empowering. [You are] given the opportunity to derive education from your trips.”
Mayor Joy shares a fond memory from the past, which empowered her—a month-long trip to Mexico wherein she made it a point to visit every city. As an archaeologist, she was interested in the history of Mexico because it has a very close relationship with the Philippines. She discovered that, at the time, traveling alone as a woman was frowned upon in the country. This led her to meet compassionate souls who wanted to protect her from the possible dangers of traveling solo.
Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan, prefers traveling to unknown places. She reveals, “Travel has a real way of pushing you out of your comfort zone—to experience something new, to experience something that is very different from your conventional life.”
Mich recounts a university exchange trip to Istanbul wherein other students chose to visit more developed and “touristy” places like London and Paris. “As a woman, it was a very interesting travel experience. I remember every time I encountered someone, they would ask me [about a husband] because the notion of a woman traveling alone is unusual. Personally, these places that are lesser known and are less understood have a stronger layer for me, because it pushes you out of out comfort zone,” she divulges.
As someone who travels for a living, she adds, “Every time you travel, it helps you transcend cultures, languages and experience new things.”
For Philippine Coast Guard officer and renowned mountaineer Noelle Wenceslao, traveling made her independent. As someone who grew up with a kasambahay (maid) at home and hardly went outdoors, this act forced her to learn how to do things on her own.
She reveals, “I felt like a baby lost in the supermarket…The more that I traveled, the more I learned to accept things that are different, the more I learned to be open-minded. At the same time, I appreciated everything that made the Philippines its own.”
For young entrepreneur, content creator and Airbnb Host, Colleen Vidal, her passion for traveling led her to entrepreneurship. After migrating to the Philippines from Saudi Arabia, she discovered traveling. She quit her very stable accountancy job at a top accounting firm to follow her dreams. Colleen recounts, “This made me realize to work for myself this time, to work for my dreams and goals—not for my family, not for my parents, not for anyone else.”
She discovered the beautiful island of Siargao, and it was love at first sight. She left her city life and built an empire in the island. She reveals, “Traveling has a transformational power, an awakening power. All the experiences you get, the places you visit, the people you meet, the stories you hear, the culture you experience—it brings out the best in you.”
Airbnb celebrates Pinay power with the inaugural #WomenInTravel industry dialogue exploring how travel challenges stereotypes, breaks boundaries and, ultimately, empowers Filipinas.
Photos Airbnnb Philippines
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver