A woman empowerment-themed open mic that gave voice to stories and struggles

My spoken-word career began (and promptly ended) at a high school writing club meeting. I was 14 years old — a self-confessed introvert who struggled with public speaking. So when my club moderator told us that we’d have to write a poem and perform it in front of the entire class, I was scared. I ended up performing a piece called “Sitting alone at a lunch table” (cringe) and hating myself afterward for exposing my own truth.

Simple conversations with friends and family were also mini struggles because I always found it hard to speak up. When I was still discovering the wonders of feminism, I would always hesitate to point out issues with my brother and male cousin during casual family lunches for fear of being accused of promoting my “feminist agenda.” They always argued that there’s a double standard in society, and our conversations would end up as long discussions that ultimately went around in circles. At one point, I decided not to waste my time, eventually choosing not to speak up at all.

We now live in a world where people aren’t afraid to show off their interests and beliefs, parading them around like they’re this season’s hottest fashion item. We even see feminist statements on fast fashion T-shirts and fashion week catwalks (remember that spring/summer 15 Chanel show?).

Getting artsy: Prints by Sab Diegor

Speak up: Stacey Gutierrez of PLUMP PH, advocate for body positivity.

There’s no denying that women empowerment is in vogue right now, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What matters is that we don’t stop at just declaring ourselves feminists because it’s cool — we need to voice out our beliefs as well.

Last Oct. 8, Woman, Create held a woman empowerment-themed open mic as a means for people to share their perspectives in a room filled with open minds and hearts. “Here I Am” brought together a bunch of women (and men!) to perform different stories of struggle and triumph through spoken word poetry, storytelling and music.

Stacy Gutierrez performed a piece on cool girls, while her sister Danah served up a sassy monologue, aptly titled “Di Ka Cheap, Teh.”  Young STAR’s resident Larry stan (and art director) Maine Manalansan was also there to read a letter to her eight-year-old pink-loving self. In between, there were musical numbers by ethnic jazz musician Ja Quintana, among others.

If I thought that standing up in front of a crowd was hard, what more speaking up about your insecurities? Watching these brave women bare their souls in front of strangers, I thought, This doesn’t show vulnerability — it shows strength.

My takeaway from the event was best expressed by Isa Garcia of The Better Story Project, who ended her spoken-word performance with these words: “You are a woman. Occupy space.”

#events #gender #literature #music

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