The 2018 run of It’s A Girl Thing Manila reminded me that a small dose of girl empowerment goes a long way
It’s a tough world out there and we live in frustrating times at best. Just a few months ago, a man told me that women who have kids shouldn’t work and that those who do are selfish; they deprive their children. I remember being so angry and frustrated with him because I knew he was wrong. I knew he was dead wrong because the women in my family didn’t just have kids and go to work: they succeeded in their careers while raising children who never lacked love, care, or compassion. It’s during times like these that I’m most thankful for the strong, independent women who surround me to this day.
This was when I realized that, ultimately, our notions of girl power and what we’re capable of as women all start with our environment and the people who surround us. Maybe the man who believes women belong at home was surrounded by people who thought the same or maybe that’s how he interprets his world. So I channeled my frustration into the bigger picture: how do we foster environments to encourage and educate?
This is precisely why gatherings like It’s A Girl Thing are so important to the cause: they set the right example to girls (and guys, even) and show us just how far we can all go.
You might say, “I already know all of this! I’m already a strong, independent woman! What’s the point?” There are two main things to keep in mind: others do not know what you know and you can never have enough time with a group of like-minded people. The proof is in my experience.
Girl Power Is For Everyone
You would think that a festival called It’s A Girl Thing would attract purely young girls. But one of the first things I noticed was the range of people in the crowd: moms with their teenage daughters, older brothers with their sisters, couples and even dads. It gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that these girls have such a strong support system.
We All Have Vulnerable Sides
Janina Vela was introduced as a bubbly, fun girl. But she took her performance as an opportunity to open up about her mental health struggles and how she knows now that she isn’t defined by them. This hit home to me even more because I, too, was diagnosed with anxiety last year. But I think this was a valuable learning, especially for young girls in the crowd—that the strong people we look up to have their own struggles, too.
You’re Never Too Young
This, I saw in both the headliners and the crowd. I came across girls as young as four or five at the event with their moms, siblings and friends. We had the chance to hear Asia Jackson, who spearheaded an online movement with #MagandangMorenx. Sure, I felt old in a sea of Gen Z-ers, but seeing all this made me confident in our future.
Homegrown Girls Are Making Waves
The crowd was crazy for foreign influencers in attendance like Meredith Foster, Megan Batoon and Liane V. But there was a different kind of passion from the crowd when homegrown talents like Hannah Pangilinan, AC Bonifacio and Janina Vela took the stage.
Empowerment Comes In So Many Forms
Let’s be real, my definition of girl power is probably completely different from yours. For some, empowerment is lifting other girls up. For others, it’s being the best they can be. And for another group it’s taking it to the streets. So to bring together in one place all the different ways girls have succeeded and exceeded expectations? Now that’s something else.
For just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, it was refreshing to share a room with people who didn’t, don’t and won’t let the world get the best of them, people who are eager to rediscover all the different ways girls can empower one another. And that’s what the world needs more of now.
Words Nicole Yu Rivera
Photography Edward Joson
Art Alexandra Lara