With the Philippine Independence Day happening this June 12th, Filipinos all over the world are showing pride for the country. The Philippine Independence Day, for us, is a big deal – because for us, it is a day for celebrating the struggles and triumphs of the Filipino people.
These Ten Filipinos you are about to learn of, are Filipinos whose struggles and triumphs are worth recognizing.
1. Michael Christian Martinez
He is a Filipino figure skater who first gained prominence in the 2014 Winter Olympics when he was the lone representative of the Philippines. While he did not conclude that with a podium finish, he left a remarkable impression to the Figure Skating world, with sports analysts projecting him to land a podium finish in the Winter Olympics next year. He’s done all of this, even when the Philippine government does not provide any support to him (which is unusual, because the Philippine government does support the country’s Olympians).
2. Crispin Dueñas
Crispin Dueñas is a Filipino-Canadian recurve archer who has competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. While he did not have podium finishes in the Olympics, he is regardless held with high esteem as he is one of Canada’s top male archers. In addition to being an athlete, he is also a Physics major from the University of Toronto and hopes to shift to a career of being a high school teacher after two more Olmypic games.
3. Anessa Manalo Tiburon
Anessa Manalo Tiburon was one of the Chief Girl Scout awardees of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines back in 2015. Perhaps, her most remarkable achievement to this day is the KaFLYapaan, a kite-flying event for the benefit of the Marawi Siege victims. She started organizing the event a few days after the siege broke out, and in a span of roughly two weeks, the event itself took place. An interesting fact is that she also writes songs on her spare time.
4. Hidilyn Diaz
Hidilyn Diaz brought pride to the Philippines when she won a silver medal for the Philippines during the 2016 Summer Olympics. This silver medal was for the Women’s 53kg weightlifting category. Prior to 2016, she has also competed in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. In addition to being an athlete, she is also an officer of the Philippine Air Forces with the rank of Airwoman First Class.
5. Josua Mata
Josua Mata is currently the Secretary General of SENTRO, one of the largest labor unions in the Philippines. His work in the labor unions has brought him to the global stage. In his most recent international engagement which was at the COP21 in 2015, he was part of a panel that included Canadian environmentalist Naomi Klein and the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
6. Roy Cabonegro
Roy Cabonegro is an environmental activist who is now establishing his very own political party called the Partido Luntian or the Greens PH in English. Of all the environmentalists in the Philippines, he is one of the first to venture into politics without using an existing major political party as a stepping stone.
7. Mariel de Leon
Mariel de Leon is the current title-holder of Binibining Pilipinas – International. She has earned recognition for being a champion of various sociopolitical issues in the Philippines, and she is changing the face of how Filipina beauty queens are perceived (along with Imelda Schweighart). In fact, Mariel fought for the TRO against contraceptives to be struck down.
8. Imelda Schweighart
Imelda Schweighart is the former title-holder of the Miss Earth – Philippines title. Along with Mariel de Leon, she is another beauty queen who challenged the stereotype that a beauty queen must show apathy to sociopolitical issues. In her case, Imelda spoke out against the human rights violations going on in the Philippines.
9. Rachelle Ann Go
Rachelle Ann Go is a musical star who was casted as Fantine in the 30th Anniversary run of Les Miserables. Currently, she has been announced to play Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton in the West End production of Hamilton. Her other roles in musicals are as Gigi Van Tranh in the West End revival of Miss Saigon, and as Jane Porter in the 2013 musical version of Tarzan.
10. Trixie Maristela
Trixie Maristela is one of the most prominent LGBT figures in the Philippines – and is rightfully so. After all, she won the Miss Gay Philippines crown in 2011, and won the first ever Miss Gay Manila in 2015. Apart from that, she also emerged as the Miss International Queen 2015 winner. In all those three instances, she used the pageants as a platform for advancing LGBT rights in the Philippines. She is currently signed under VIVA Artists Agency as an actress.
These ten Filipinos have shown the Philippines, or the universe rather, that you can change the world doing the things that you love. Whether it’s playing your favorite sport, joining beauty pageants or being engaged with an advocacy.