‘Becoming Sheroes’: Tales of Filipinas uplifting others | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

‘Becoming Sheroes’: Tales of Filipinas uplifting others
‘Becoming Sheroes’: Tales of Filipinas uplifting others
The cover of “Becoming Sheroes: Stories of Heartstrong Women”

There is a woman here who will write a similar book!” declared Leslie Vickrey, one of the authors of “Together We Rise,” a compilation of stories published by The Lady Leaders Club in answer to their need for support during the COVID-19 lockdown. The club is composed of female executives in the staffing industry.

Monica Maralit was at that book launch in Austin, Texas, and felt compelled to be that woman to put together life stories of inspiring Filipinas.

Answering that call led to “Becoming Sheroes: Stories of Heartstrong Women,” a collection of short, powerful autobiographies from Maralit and 14 other exceptional Filipinas: Marissa Atienza, Karen Batungbacal, Rebecca Bustamante, Kristine Calleja, Ayhee Campos, Laurice Chiongbian, Mawi Fojas de Ocampo, Nica Jones, Shawntel Nieto, Arizza Nocum, Paulynn Sicam, Unyx Sta. Ana, Stephanie Tumampos and Sharon Vaswani.

International Women’s Day is on March 8, and the United Nations is celebrating the occasion with the theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” It’s an auspicious time to launch a motivating book about some Filipinas with incredible tales to tell.

Strong women

“Our ‘becoming’ is influenced by how we uplift, inspire and empower others,” wrote Maralit in her foreword. “As we extend support, share our wisdom and stand as examples of strong women, we not only shape our narratives, but also influence and empower those around us.”

The chapters weren’t mere puff pieces of successful corporate types or socialites. Readers will appreciate the honesty with which these women shared pieces of their lives. The stories are arranged in alphabetical order according to each person’s last name, but the opener sets the tone for the book.

The first is a raw account of an alcoholic single mother with anger management issues. Learning how she clawed her way back to being more even-keeled and starting a life coaching business was riveting.

Then there’s the overachiever who seemed to have it all but endured a failed first marriage. She unpacked bits of her life as a valuable guide for wannabes to help illustrate what it took to attain all her success as a pioneer in the industries she’s helmed (hint: it entails jumping in with both feet, always).

Captivating was a real-life Cinderella’s tale of growing up in extreme poverty, becoming a domestic helper and later a global entrepreneur and speaker, thanks to her unbreakable, generous spirit.

Plagued with mental health issues but highly functioning, a feminist social entrepreneur shared how a diagnosis of being neurodiverse in her 40s afforded her relief. Being on the autism spectrum with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder hasn’t stopped her from continuing to advocate for social and ecological justice and gender equality.

Worthy endeavors

Back-to-back tragedies rained early on in the life of a financial wellness titan, but she refused to be a prisoner of her past. She gave birth to twins at 21, lost her physically abusive husband at 26 and had her father die in her arms. Then, she discovered the body of her father-in-law after he took his own life, became financially insecure and had to care for her mother. Yet, she considered these events as training grounds for her successful venture.

A journalist, human rights educator and atypical grandmother shared gripping accounts of her life during martial law and beyond. One of her daughters wrote, “I cannot take on a job that is not associated with a cause—not with an upbringing like mine!” Her story resonated with me the most.

These women sublimated and channeled their painful experiences into worthy endeavors instead of being crushed by the weight of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Their stories are diverse and relatable, with valuable takeaways for readers eager for positivity or encouragement.

“Becoming a ‘shero’ is a continuous journey with many stories that may not always end in success but will always lead to discovery,” said Maralit. This appreciation for learning, preference for curiosity and decision to be resilient makes reading this book worth anyone’s time.

Maralit founded the Victoria Heartstrong Organization in honor of her mother and maternal grandmother. The nonprofit helps high school and college girls from underprivileged backgrounds, supporting their education with financial assistance and enriching programs. Proceeds from the book “Becoming Sheroes” will directly fund these initiatives. —CONTRIBUTED INQ

“Becoming Sheroes” is available internationally at Walmart, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and for local delivery at BecomingSheroesOrderForm.

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