TEDxLegaspiVillageWomen: Manila’s First TEDxWomen Event

– by Ayn Bernos

MAKATI — Last Wednesday, November 6, Manila had its first ever TEDxWomen event called #TEDxLegaspiVillageWomen. Initiated by Niña Terol and Neva Talladen, and co-produced by ASPACE, the successful event showcased six women who are bridging gaps in various areas of society.

“It really took a village to make this event possible,” explains Niña, as she welcomed the audience to the _GALLERY at ASPACE Greenbelt. With only six weeks to bring this vision to life, the duo managed to make it work through the help of dedicated volunteers, working virtually from different parts of Manila. The team behind #TEDxLegaspiVillageWomen truly embodied this event’s theme: Bridges.

The stellar lineup included talks from four amazing Filipino women who are making waves through their advocacies, plus streamed talks by Google Science Fair winner Anushka Naiknaware and author and speaker Luvvie Ajayi.

First up on the stage was Julia Nebrija, an urban planner who is passionate about understanding, embracing, and fixing Metro Manila. Her story started with a 15-day bike journey that allowed her to explore the ins and outs of the city, from Caloocan to Muntinlupa, and how that experience shaped her vision now as an urban planner. “In the end, I think I also valued the city in a new way,” she explains. “It taught me to see all of these special attributes that we have in Metro Manila, that we never really consider.”

The conversation continued with Dr. Kathleen B. Aviso, process systems engineer, educator, and advocate for women in science and research. She emphasized the role of science in the country’s global competitiveness, and how better research propels our nation forward. But more than that, she rallies for the women who want to pursue their science dreams, knowing that they can very much bring more to the table. To put it simply, Dr. Aviso asks, “So why do we need more women scientists? Because we can [have more women scientists].”

Development strategist and entrepreneur Alia Cimafranca remains optimistic for Mindanao.

Next up was Aliah Cimafranca, a development strategist, entrepreneur, and, as she likes to call herself, an optimistic Mindanaoan. She posed a question that had everyone thinking, “How do we give better?” Speaking from her experiences with the World Youth Alliance in New York, to her various projects in Mindanao, Aliah shared her journey to an “authentic and functional self-gift,” and how that is, in her own way, bridging gaps brought about by the current chaos in our society. “I remain an optimistic Mindanaoan. I understand that it’s difficult now, with the social, political landscape. But how can I remain optimistic? Why do I remain optimistic?” she asks. “The things is, we have to.”

The roster of speakers ended with Dona Tumacder-Esteban, as she spoke about how both women and men can harness the Power of the Period. With complete mastery and confidence in her topic, she encouraged the audience to move forward from the shame and stigma that surround menstruation, and shared that by doing so, we are empowering ourselves and the next generation of women. “Yes, I am Dona Tumacder-Esteban, your Blood sister, connected not through the blood that runs through our veins but through the blood that flows out of us. And I am blessed to bleed.”

TEDxLegaspiVillageWomen wrapped up with Dona Tumacder-Esteban leading a closing meditation for participants, organizers, and fellow speakers — a perfect culmination to a day celebrating womanhood, diversity, and the unyielding spirit for impactful societal change.

Ayn Bernos is a freelance writer, lifestyle vlogger, and digital marketer based in Manila.

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