A voracious reader growing up, Jia A. Tolentino started her writing career not as glamorously as she had dreamed but by churning out press releases, research assignments, and search engine–optimized articles.

In Fearless Filipinas II, a compilation of success stories of 24 Filipino women in various fields, the Ms. Tolentino shares how she went from anonymous scribe to prolific New Yorker staff writer to best-selling author.

“When you’re a writer, everything in your life—anything you read, or anything in your brain—is potential material,” she said. This openness to source material later became her bestselling book Trick Mirror

As a follow up to Fearless Filipinas: 12 Women Who Dared to Be Different, the second volume differs by zeroing in on fearless moments similar to Ms. Tolentino’s steep climb. 

“Twelve women in the first edition was really not enough to encompass the whole spectrum of very successful Filipinas out there,” said Maria Angelica “Mica” B. Magsanoc, a founding editor of the series, at the virtual launch on June 15.  

“We had more women we wanted to include that, with time constraints, we couldn’t.”  

Fearless Filipinas II was expanded to celebrate 24 women, this time by highlighting their fearlessness in their respective fields. 

ANYONE CAN DREAM 

Natasha M. Tanjutco’s moment came at 15 years old, when she suggested that part of the profits from her mom’s final art exhibit be donated to the United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF.

The exhibit, composed of works created by kids, was the origin of Kids for Kids, a movement that Ms. Tanjutco and her sister Isabella cultivated by organizing fun run fundraisers and sports and arts outreach initiatives.  

Kids for Kids later branched out to other advocacies, but as Ms. Tanjutco and her fellow volunteers approached college age, their priorities shifted to more urgent issues.

Her second “fearless moment” came when she established a multidisciplinary change agency and design studio called TAYO to connect her advocacies. 

“How much of a difference are we really making?” she asked her sister one night, burnt out from being a student and overseeing the agency. 

After a pep talk from Isabella, she kept on and later that week managed to recruit more to the cause when she called for climate action after Typhoon Rolly hit the Philippines in 2020. 

Ms. Magsanoc said at the launch: “These are women who came from so many different backgrounds or struggled with so many different things but still came through.” 

The 24 women featured are: 

Alex Eala — Tennis player
Anoinette Jadaone — Filmmaker
Cam Rodriguez — Footballer
Cathy Garcia-Molina — TV and Film Director
Ces Drilon — Journalist
Fe Del Mundo — Pediatrician
Hershey Hilado — Entrepreneur
Jia Tolentino — Journalist
Josie Trinidad — Disney animator
Justine Cordero — Founder of Color Manila
Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala — Founder of ICanServe Foundation
Kim King — Owner of Kim King’s Kitchen
Macy Lee — Talang Dalisay founder
Megan Young — Miss World 2013
Michele Bumgarner — Racecar driver
Pia Ranada — Journalist
Regina Manzana-Sawhney — Co-founder of Filipino Googler Network
Rian Gonzales — Artist
Rowena Romulo — Owner of Romulo Café
Ruby Ibarra — Rapper
Tasha Tanjutco — Co-founder of Kids For Kids Philippines
Vicky Morales-Reyno — Broadcast journalist
Yasmin Busran-Lao — Women’s rights advocate
Zara Carbonell — Miss Tourism Worldwide 2018

Katya F. Lichauco, the series’ co-author and managing editor, added that there is no shortage of subjects to cover, hinting at more to come after the second book. 

“There are countless women with stories to tell, which is why we intend on making Fearless Filipinas a series,” she said. 

“These stories taught me that I myself can dare to dream and I hope the readers feel the same way.” — Brontë H. Lacsamana