Ten Iconic Women and Moments that Reminded Us that #BabaeKa, and Not ‘Babae Lang’

How does that familiar phrase go? “Not all heroes wear capes.” In the context of gender discourse, sometimes, if not, most of the time, heroes come in the form of women staying true to who they are and make use of platforms they built for themselves to wave that flag of female empowerment for all to see.

As we continue to march and celebrate women’s month, now more than ever, it’s time for you to lead the charge and further unleash your spirit and grit, Filipina. Rank Magazine brings you some of the most recent and most powerful ~woman moments~ in Philippine media.

Karmina Constantino 

The hottest and perhaps one of the most recent picks on the list would be ABS CBN News Channel reporter Karmina Constantino’s response to presidential aspirant Jose Montemayor Jr.’s accusation that the said network was paid by Isko Moreno, his co-candidate. Montemayor Jr. ‘s claim during the CNN presidential debate that Moreno received 15 million dollars from Bill Gates’ foundation, the moderators of the debate, TV reporters Pinky Webb and Pia Hontiveros immediately corrected him that it was 15 million in pesos, not in dollars.

Up until the interview with Constantino, the aspirant still insists his claim despite them correcting him, he then proceeds to throw a baseless accusation which Constantino did not take lightly, as she should, leaving the Internet collectively rejoice and stand behind the reporter and her drive to stop the spread of fake and baseless news, especially to those who are seeking for a seat of power in the government.

Nadine Lustre

The queen AND the President never fails to bring her feisty side among bashers and those who throw ill comments and misbehavior her way. It can be remembered that Nadine Lustre’s, “C’mon guys, it’s 2017” remark was able to smash the age-old belief that women should not get into a live-in setup with their significant others until they are married.

This iconic line had its ‘sequel’ in 2020 “Anuna na, 2020 na!!” as she called out Philippine Star and late entertainment editor and columnist Ricky Lo’s article about Lustre’s mental health amid her breakup with James Reid, her reel and real love team back then.

Frankie ‘Kakie’ Pangilinan

*Trigger Warning: R?Xe*

#HijaAko is a Twitter ‘movement’ that was started after the Internet called out Ben Tulfo’s misogynistic remark toward Frankie Pangilinan, a singer-songwriter and daughter of Sharon Cuneta and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan. Their exchange stemmed from Pangilinan’s sentiments regarding the police’s public service announcement on preventing of being r*p** by prohibiting women from wearing “suggestive” clothing.

The singer-songwriter told otherwise that instead of putting the responsibility on women in preventing r*p* crimes, men must held accountable and should be the one to be taught a common decent practice of not harassing women. Tulfo dished out an unsolicited advice, calling out Pangilinan on her remarks saying that the opportunity of doing the crime is and will always be there, that’s why “sexy ladies” should be careful in the way they dress up because they are “inviting the beast”, all while addressing Pangilinan as hija, in an obvious attempt to show his “dominance” to mock and invalidate her point.

As expected, his remarks backfired to him, having the #HijaAko movement where people, especially women were able to share their experiences regarding the same/related crime. This also paved the way in amplifying the call to stop r**e and the continuing culture of victim-blaming that remains prevalent to this day. 

Leni Robredo

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Vice President of the Philippines and now presidential aspirant Leni Robredo is the only woman in the slate for the highest position for the 2022 electoral race. Without a doubt, in the span of time she has taken her seat as the second highest-ranking official in the country, Robredo has weathered sexist remarks, and power struggle especially from those who are not perceived as her allies.

Just last month, it was shown that amidst high ratings for her handling of public funds, Robredo remains as the “biggest victim” of disinformation. Despite unfair remarks that women cannot lead because they are always perceived as weak, Robredo constantly proves otherwise by projecting her wit and excellence during debates and interviews not just during her widely-celebrated #KulayRosasAngBukas campaign, but even before coming to this decision to run for the presidency, in her many successful projects amid very limited resources, considering the amount of times she was publicly humiliated, shun and stripped of power.

In the midst of all the noise, fake news and tongue-lashing she receives and her children, who are all women, as she always says, “The last man standing is a Woman.”

Maria Ressa

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Maria Ressa is one of the most notable and fiercest journalists in today’s time—bar none. Her fierceness and willingness to fight for truth resulted into a number of time times she was put to the test by the current administration, as a target for malicious comments and legal battles.

However, this proved that she will not cover or falter despite the prejudices and accusations continuously thrown her and news organization, Rappler, which she co-founded. With this, she historically won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Hidilyn Diaz 

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This list cannot be concluded without Hidilyn Diaz’s gold win in weightlifting in Olympics for her historic 224 kg lift. The sport is popularly seen as more suitable for men but Diaz proved that women can, and women will.  

Prior to her win, Diaz has had to hurdle ill comments after openly seeking support from authorities on the struggles that befall athletes like her, who are given the mighty task of representing the Philippines in international competitions, with little to no resources. Her win not only forced the sporting world to take notice of the Philippines but, more importantly, our own country to evaluate the lack of support for athletes of her caliber, and the conditions they are thrust in and had to endure before they take home honor for our nation.

Pinky Webb

Of course, who wouldn’t forget the iconic hair flip that launched a thousand GIFs? We all admire Pinky Webb’s composure despite the seething barrage from then-spokesperson Harry Roque. For context, in an interview with the spox, Webb asked Roque about his reaction regarding Danilo Arao’s tweet on the termination of the 1989 UP accord—which prohibits military personnel in UP campuses without prior notice.

Roque loses his cool saying Webb should ask fair questions, claims that Webb was implying that he has no honor and excellence if he disagreed with Arao, despite the reporter repeatedly reiterating that she was merely reading Arao’s tweet then asking him his reaction.

The iconic hair flip landed on the top 1 trending topic on the Twitter that day, further cementing the grace and dignity of Webb in handling a rather “unbecoming” behavior of a man trying to tell her how to do her job. Watch the full interview on YouTube.

Mela Habijan

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It was a crowning moment not just for Mela Habijan, but also to the whole trans community when she won the first-ever Miss Trans Global title in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Habijan was a writer for several TV shows like Gandang Gabi Vice, and an actress with appearances in GMA 7 shows like Magpakailanman, but her historic pageant win sparked joy and hope in the community, especially since they are now given space in a powerful platform like this.

Habijan was able to amplify representation and awareness on transgender women who continue to suffer such as family rejections, hindered opportunities, discrimination, and violence.

Dawn Chang

“Well that’s your problem and not mine, I can wear whatever I wanna wear.”

Remember this iconic line? This is from Dawn Chang, a fourth placer finalist from Pinoy Big Brother 737, now a YouTuber and a host. In this TV moment, Tommy Esguerra challenged Chang to get her sure spot in the big 4 podia, Chang did not accept the challenge so her opponent went to confront her instead about her relationship with another housemate, and how her actions give off the wrong impression.

The exchange got even more heated when Esguerra gave comments on how Chang’s way of clothing distracted him during their confrontation as well as Zeus Collins, who was involved in the whole reality show feud. He blamed her for not being able to ‘think straight’ while her legs are fully exposed. Chang, as she should, then told Esguerra that she has zero intention of adjusting just to make him, or other boys comfortable and enable them to ‘think straight’. Nonetheless, Chang was successful in straight-smashing the sexist remark.

Maureen Wroblewitz

Maureen Wroblewitz was the first Filipino to win Asia’s Next Top Model, however, Filipinos, especially fans, including some of the contestants in the show themselves, made her road to the top a hard, but fulfilling climb.

“I’m not just a pretty face, I’m more than that,” she said in an interview during the season finale viewing party in June 2017. Although it was, and will always be disheartening and enraging to witness bullying, especially since it was done by women as well, Wroblewitz powering through it all lit up as an inspiration to fellow young Filipina models who aspire to be like her.

Women’s resilience and excellence deserve an everyday celebration and appreciation. As the new generation embarks on the continuous combat in smashing the patriarchy and its cultivated principles and ideals against women, may the fabulousness, wit, and courage of women shine even brighter that we will lose sight of the many constricting labels of the society.

Additional text: Leo Balante