One great thing about being Filipina is that our society is relatively progressive when it comes to gender equality. Recently, we even beat the US in the World Economic Forum’s list of countries for having one of the smallest gender gaps for women. We are the only Asian country in the top ten list and praised for our “drive for smaller gender gaps in labor force participation and wages.”
But that doesn’t mean sexism no longer happens. Far from it. If you’re a woman, you need to have balls to push the envelope and earn people’s respect—the kind that has everyone either quaking or cheering in your presence. Spot.PH lists 10 women who dared to challenge the so-called norms and shake up the powers-that-be. They’re Pinays with balls…really huge ones. Though we may not agree with them all the time, we can’t deny the fact that they make things happen.
1. ESPERANZA CABRAL
Feisty move: Despite the forceful opposition of the Catholic Church, this feisty Department of Health Secretary is standing her ground on the issue of condoms, reproductive health, and sex education. Her resolve and her pragmatic stance has earned her many supporters.
Fighting words: In the wake of her smackdown with the Church, she told ANC’s Dateline Philippines, “Of course, I am afraid of the Church. They are very powerful and they can sometimes be very vicious. I’m not exactly one who likes to live dangerously, but I’d rather live dangerously than do nothing.”
Fierce fashion: Her upswept hairdo symbolizes her unflappability. You’d want her with you if religious organizations get on your case.
2. MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO
Feisty move: This Ilongga lawyer has always been an overachiever. She was the first female editor-in-chief of The Philippine Collegian, the University of the Philippines’ acclaimed campus paper. She went on to earn more degrees. She first made her mark when she headed the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation under President Corazon Aquino’s administration. The media loved her witty, acerbic quips. Nowadays, she’s the only senator who provides excitement during televised Senate inquiries. The lady does not hold back when she wants to give someone a piece of her mind. In fact, her quips are so famous that somebody actually put up a site called Miriam’s Dictionary, a treasure trove of her most awesome quotes.
Fighting words: When asked if she feared for her life because of the enemies she amassed during her several crusades against corruption, she said, “I eat death threats for breakfast!” (And don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.)
Fierce fashion: Her curly hair and colorful power suits show that she’s someone you can’t mess with. If you’re in a bar fight, you’d want this woman with you. She’ll have your back…unless, of course, you’re not smart enough for her. In that case, she’ll probably beat you up, too.
3. RISA HONTIVEROS
Feisty move: Don’t let her delicate good looks fool you. This lady can give as good ass she gets during rallies. She was one of the representatives of Akbayan party-list in Congress, where she passed legislation that championed women’s rights. Despite the setback in recent elections, she still vows to fight for the change in society that we all need.
Fighting words: In 2009, she addressed the UP Cebu’s graduates. She told them, “There is nothing like apathy to kill the soul of a generation, and with it, the soul of a nation.”
Fierce fashion: She rocks white shirts and, of course, her ever-present alampay.
To see the full list of fierce femmes, check out "Women with Balls: Top 10 Fierce Pinays" on Spot.PH.