The truth is not everyone is born with a lion’s courage. Sometimes lions don’t even know they had it in them all along. Dorothy and her lion companion’s journey to Oz taught us this lesson at an early age. But life throws everything at us at light speed; we barely can keep up and we forget a lot of things regardless of their importance. Filipina teens all around the nation know this by heart as we often deal with changes beyond our control: physical, mental, social, emotional — you name it! Dealing with so much, we forget that courage is pretty much attainable if one wants it. It can be taught, learned and shared. And like the lion in your fairytale, he did not go through it alone. You won’t either. Johnson & Johnson will make sure of it.
Last Aug. 19 in Senator Renato Cayetano Memorial Science High School, Johnson & Johnson extended their hand to the Filipina teen by launching their campaign entitled “Camp Courage.” This new advocacy by the brand that makes baby powder aims to help young Filipinas seize every moment. “It’s a school program and it’s going to roll out nationwide. We will be talking this year to 400,000 girls all over the country, around 500 schools. We’ll be conducting a lot of workshops and activities to teach girls what’s happening in their bodies, what are the things that they can do, and to give them the right opportunities so they can show and enhance their skills and talents,” explained Karen Co, J&J group brand manager. According to a study made by Civic Science for J&J’s Clean and Clear, 75 percent of girls ages 13-17 want to feel accepted yet are afraid of being judged. This translates to dyahe, hiya and kaba they encounter with the many changes they go through physically and socially. They want young Filipinas to replace those three things by saying kayang-kaya instead. They helped us understand these “teeny problems” more by asking the women who went through it — and came through intact.
Hosted by the former MYX VJ and musician K.A. Antonio, she asked teen experts Mary Clare Pineda and Isa Garcia to enlighten the crowd on the troubles of the Filipina teen by imparting their own experiences.
“All of my decisions revolved around the idea of ‘Kaya ko ba o magagawa ko ba?’ Especially on my looks, every time I’d come up in class, I already assumed the worst as to what they’d say.” Pineda reminisced when asked about her high school insecurities: “Statistically, they say that a girl’s choices to do things are always dependent on how she feels about herself and how she looks. If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, ang dami mong hindi gagawin.” Garcia elaborated on the matter. When asked why these things happen in one’s teenage years, Pineda had this to say: “When you go through puberty you undergo a lot of changes, especially biologically; their breasts starts to develop, they have to take care of body odor, and hair growing everywhere. Because of that, minsan nahihiya sila. Instead of sharing and doing the things they love, they keep it to themselves.”
The vision they have for Camp Courage is to be a support system and safe haven for girls to share their experiences without being judged. “It’s for girls to encourage other girls and not be the cause of more stress and confusion. It’s really invoking that kind of positive relationship among teen girls,” Co added. The camp support system includes “Senior Scouts,” headed by Liza Soberano, one of the rising teen celebrities in the local scene. They’ll be joining Camp Courage for the nationwide tour.
“Before I was watching people who inspire teen girls to overcome their fears and stuff, now ako na yung nag-sasabi, which is great because I know how it feels to be in their situation. I know how it feels to be a regular teen girl, and being a celebrity doesn’t mean I’m confident my whole life,” Soberano replied when asked about being the head Senior Scout. “I’m proud that I’m able to make a difference. That’s what I really like doing.”
When asked how she can make a difference, she said: “I’ll inspire them to be themselves first and foremost. That’s the best you can be. If you’re just like everybody else, nobody will notice you.” Aryanna Rivera, a blogger and another Senior Scout, was asked what difference she would make with this opportunity. “I want to teach them to be comfortable in their own skin. Every girl is beautiful. They should know that.” This perfectly sums up the attempt of the campaign.
“Females are strong as hell!” roared the intro of the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And so does Camp Courage. Teen Filipinas all around the nation can realize this through the brand’s products, the knowledge they’ll share, and the strong sense of sisterhood that will bloom. Maybe soon enough we’ll not just hear the words kayang-kaya, we’ll see our young women embodying it.