FILIPINO women continue to prove that they are one of the most empowered and inspiring citizens of the country. In November, nine exceptional Filipinas were again honored for making a positive impact on national development in their own humble ways.

    Named “The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service” (TOWNS) for 2013 were Atty. Darlene Marie Berberabe (Government Service); Noraida Abdullah Karim (Social Work); Ani Karina Brown (Sports); Kristin “Karen” Davila (Media); Maria Rachelle Gerodias (Performing Arts); Gemma Teresa Narisima (Atmospheric Science); Eleanor Rosa Pinugu (Social Enterprise and Education); Ma. Amihan Ramolete (Theater Arts); and Maricor Soriano (Applied Physics).

    The new batch of TOWNS awardees was officially recognized with gold medallions and trophies in a formal awarding held on November 21 at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

    “The advocacy of TOWNS is to showcase the power of women in our country. Despite the fact that women are still considered a marginalized sector of society, we want to prove that women can also excel in whatever endeavor they see themselves in,” shared Aura Matias, TOWNS Foundation vice president, to The Sunday Times Magzine.

    Matias who also served as the 2013 search chairman, elaborated how rigorous the nomination and selection processes were, spanning almost nine months.

    She began, “We launched the search in October 2012 and besides Metro Manila, we also purposely went to key cities in Visayas and Mindanao, specifically Cebu, Tacloban and Cagayan de Oro to gather nominations from there as well.”

    And though TOWNS had accepted nationwide nominees since its inception in 1974, Matias noted that it was the first time they personally went outside Manila to reach out to more deserving Filipinas. After receiving 51 nominations from late-2012 to mid-2013, the top 15 were finally chosen by the search committee.

    “The selection process for the 2013 awardees was tedious since each nominee’s achievements and body of work were carefully examined and weighed against a strict criteria to establish their contribution to Philippine society,” she continued.

    After another rounds of deliberation from the final board of judges—led by Supreme Court of the Philippines Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno together with National Academy of Science and Technology president Acd. William Padolina, former Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral, Cinemalaya president Nestor Jardin and Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima—the nine awardees were finally selected.

    They now join 149 women professionals—all recognized achievers in their respective fields of endeavor—recognized by TOWNS throughout the years. Past recipients include names no less than Rosa Rosal, Zenaida Amador, Esperanza Cabral, Leticia Shahani, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, Teresita Ang See, Nieves Confesor and Lilia de Lima, as well as Chief Justice Sereno and Matias.

    “More importantly to us, it is not only of personal gratification that we would like to highlight, but that these women have the sincere desire to make a difference in the country and their fellowmen,” Matias ended.


    Atty. Darlene
    Marie Berberabe (Government Service)
    Since Berberabe was appointed chief executive officer in November 2010, she has changed the game at PAG-IBIG Fund by implementing innovative programs, instilling excellence, integrity and a service orientation among the bureaucracy. She holds the distinction of being the first female instructor of Philosophy at the University of the Philippines.

    Noraida Adang Abdullah Karim (Social Work)
    Abdullah Karim is the deputy director for the Philippine Program of humanitarian organization Community and Family Services International (CFSI). She serves concurrently as the project coordinator of the Food Assistance Project, a partnership between CFSI and the World Food Program that serves some 400,000 internally displaced persons in conflict-affected areas of Central and Northern Mindanao.

    Ani Karina Brown (Sports)
    Brown is a tri-athlete, trainer and race organizer. Brown promotes sports among women and children as program manager of Pinay in Action Women Empowerment through Fitness Program, and the IronKids Association of the Philippines. In 2008, she became the first Filipino to compete in the Ironman, the “gold standard” of all triathlons.

    Karen Davila (Media)
    Davila is awarded for her contribution to broadcast journalism in the country. Her insightful reports have led to significant policy actions on the issues of corruption, juvenile justice and substance abuse. She has used her influence to help raise support for education, housing, autism and infant victims of Biliary Atresia. Davila is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, mentoring young Filipino achievers from different walks of life.

    Rachelle Gerodias (Performing Arts)
    Gerodias is the Philippines’ premier soprano, recognized for her contribution to the arts.  She regularly performs to large audiences in the country and abroad, receiving high acclaim in Vienna, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Japan, Beijing, Bangkok and South Korea. She established the Rachelle Gerodias Music Foundation Inc., which gives scholarships to talented musicians who cannot afford formal musical training.

    Gemma Narisma (Atmospheric Science)
    She has been working to refine climate models of the effects and risks to communities brought about by climate change.  Her work has since been used by policymakers and national development planners in agriculture, oceanography, geological sciences and forestry in the design and implementation of effective climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs.

    Eleanor Rose Pinugu (Social Enterprise and Education)
    Pinugu is the founder and executive director of the Mano Amiga Academy, a nonprofit school that aims to uplift the lives of underprivileged families through education. She put up Bistro 3846, a high-end cafeteria that donates 100 percent of its profits to Mano Amigo, as well as provides training and employment to the community. The Bistro 3846 currently enjoys a net profit of 30 percent to 37 percent a month, demonstrating the viability of social enterprises.

    Ma. Amihan Ramolete (Theatre Arts)
    Her work on puppetry and children’s theater education builds appreciation of Filipino and Asian cultures among today’s youth. She is the company manager of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, and managing director of Dulaang UP. She also serves as artistic consultant of the Usbong Papet Baclayon in Bohol, and Philippine representative to the Asean Puppetry Association. She is also the chairman of the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts at UP Diliman. Ramolete is a Doctor of Philosophy in Filipino Psychology.

    Maricor Soriano (Applied Physics)
    Soriano specializes in applying video and image processing to disciplines such as marine ecology, museum and art studies, medical disease tracking and biomechanics. Her work involves the development of low-cost, easy-to-use techniques for users in various settings. She also spearheads multidisciplinary projects attract students to pursue graduate studies in physics, engineering and health sciences, building a pool of future scientists that will help the country. Soriano is president of the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas.


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