Happy International Women’s Day! I am blessed to have been influenced by so many beautiful, powerful, and inspiring women growing up, and I want to take this time to thank them for what they have done to make me the woman I am today.
1. Vivian Andico, my mother
My mom is so important to me. She gave birth to me. Apparently, she struggled a lot when she was pregnant with me because it was hard for her to walk/move in general, so she didn’t see her upstairs bedroom for nearly nine months (and used a Little Mermaid kiddie pool to take a bath since she couldn’t make the trek to the bathroom). (She also had major cravings for Chinese food.) She’s a super tough cookie. While my dad was deployed for long periods of time after 9/11, she took command of the house (well, let’s be real, she’s always been in command) and cooked, cleaned, made sure my brother and I got to school on time, helped us with homework, dealt with moving to a country (Japan) we had no idea about and helped us become comfortable with our surroundings. She had to deal with moving, catty friends, my inevitable teenage attitude, and so much more. I admire her strength, intelligence, kindness, and most of all, her love for my dad, brother, and I. She has taught me to be myself and not care what anyone thinks. She stays strong in the face of struggle, and takes command of whatever situation she is in. My mother is a woman of faith and confidence. I do not know who I would be without her, and I miss her very much as she is currently in the Philippines watching over my brother as he attends university there. She’s my best friend and most trusted confidant. There’s no one I’d rather have be mistaken for my 25 year old sister. Peace out, mom.
2. My Female Teachers/Mentors
Ms. Swineheart, Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Gruver, Mrs. Hilgers, Mrs. Gwynn, Ms. Cahoon, Mrs. Brackett, Mrs. Hickey, Miz Yvette, Ginang Mirando, Ms. Joonee, Ms. Sargee, Lorna Hirae-Reese, Clare Harrington – (I am so sorry if I forgot anyone’s name…Daylight Savings Time has messed up my sleeping schedule, so my brain is all jumbled) all of these women have shaped me into the scholar I am today. The transition from one country to the next can be difficult – but all of my teachers have been there for me. These women have helped develop my skills in writing, music, theatre, and everything a person needs to become who they want to be. They helped me out when I had problems growing up, wrote me poems on my birthday, and taught me that it’s okay to take charge of your life. Thank you all for giving me an education beyond the classroom.
3. My UCSD Ladies
Katie Bucknell, Anna Yamamuro, Ivy Hang, Lena Mier, Alice Hsieh, Stephanie Robitaille, Codi Vierra, Ivy Hung, Crystal Tong, Hannah Bernabe, Amanda Ku, Karen Le, Mikki Macaraeg, Hannah Sazon, Lizzie Allen, Brooke Gorin, Erin De Leon, Sara Mangosing, Ailie Fraser, Ahna Neustadt, Nikki Wyrick, Daniela Chaparro, Erika Nunotani, Hazel Baker-Harvey, Nadine Fong, Victoria Nauman, Nivi Narasimhan, the ERC OL ladies, my UCSD CA Training Group, the UCSD Daughters of Triton, the ladies of Legally Blonde: The Musical–if you are one of my lady friends from UCSD and reading this, you are definitely included in this list. Thank you for showing me that all of one’s feelings are valid, compassion is key, confidence is the way to go, and that life is way too short for you to sit around and not do anything about the injustices in the world. Thank you for always inspiring me and teaching me to be a better person – you all are beautiful, fine, fresh ladies who are going to make it so far in this world – and I can’t wait to see you all shine. Thanks for being the tru #feminist icons in my life.
4. Kara Elecanal, Andrea Aduna, and Arianna Ayonon
Kara, Drea, and Ari have been there for me since 5th grade/middle school. We all obsessed over the same things – Harry Potter, the Twilight Saga (don’t ask), and everything under the sun that was relevant at the time. Well, we’re still kind of like that…but watching these three ladies grow up to become the women they are today has been a privilege. They have all gone through a lot, but have always been there for me, and I for them. Even though we were all separated for a while – Drea moved to Murietta, Ari and Kara moved to San Diego, and I moved to the Philippines – when we came back together, it’s like nothing changed except for the fact that we became more mature. They are always there when I seek counsel on dumb matters, to hike, to sing, and people to record dumb videos with. These three mean a lot to me, more than they know. They are all so talented and amazing and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Kara is pretty much 1/3 of the Trio (which includes Ian Leyco), and is pretty much my style guru and partner-in-crime for life. I can talk to her about anything, and we respect each others’ opinions deeply. We are probably going to live next door to each other and be the godmother of each others’ kids. She indulges in my weird lip-synch snapchats, is okay with me falling asleep everywhere, and talking about hot-button issues. #soulmatez
5. Janiel Vidal
If there is anyone I can be wildly inappropriate with (conversationally, mostly), it’s Janiel Vidal. Out of anyone on this list (besides my mother, of course), I have known her the longest. She exudes confidence in a way that I would like to emulate, and does not take anyone’s crap at all. I admit that we haven’t talked as much as we used to, but she is always there when I need someone to talk to about pressing life matters, make-up problems, and so much more. She’s the Jack to my Alex, forever.
6. Judy Garcia
My Harry Potter Buddy for Life, Judy Garcia, is one of the most confident and gorgeous women ever. She knows how to handle herself and to deal with tough situations, and has a promising career in the fashion industry. I am thankful for all of our talks about life whenever I am home in Manila for the summer, and I thank you for actually talking to me outside of the Benny Decker before watching Transformers, or we wouldn’t have become the friends we are today. Thanks for being one of my role models – one of the most confident and comfortable human beings I know. (Our double wedding to the Phelps twins will be so grand.)
7. My Southville IB Family
We went through a lot of crap together. We really did. Thanks for taking me in with loving arms, dealing with my then-crazy obsession with Glee and helping me grow as an individual. I admire all of you for your strength, intelligence, and take-no-bullshit attitude. Even though we all don’t talk as much as we used to, I still look back on our time together as a time full of fun and so much crazy mischief.
8. Samalee (Ali Mancia and Lee Darlington)
I met Ali on Tumblr back in 2012, the summer before I started attending UCSD. To be honest, I followed her on Tumblr because she had a really nice Glee-related URL (yeah, I was pretty shallow back then). Funny enough, our first conversation was about college and our future goals. We both found out we lived in Southern California, loved the Jesse/Rachel pairing on Glee, and wanted to work in the entertainment/theatre industry somehow in the future. We met up at a Chris Colfer book signing that November and became really close friends. She currently attends the University of San Francisco and is pursuing a degree in Communication as well. I met Lee on Twitter back in late 2012 when her Twitter handle was @saiswords. I actually thought her name was Sai for a while and that she was older than me, so I was intimidated by her at first – and then I found out she was actually younger than me. Like, what the hell? How could someone her age be so damn mature about everything? Somehow, Ali, Lee and I started texting each other and then…we couldn’t stop. I don’t even know why we started our own iMessage chat. We Skyped with each other, TinyChatted, and we became the best of friends. I have lost track of how many stupid Vine videos and weird shit we have sent each other, how many times we talked about Chris Colfer, NBC comedy, Amy Poehler, TV, and life in general. I can talk to these two about anything.
10. Pretty Much All the Ladies in My Life
Thank you for being you. Thank you for affecting me the way you all have. Thanks for making me struggle, thanks for picking me back up when I fall, and thanks for believing in me (and to Haydee Vargas-Duenas, thanks for believing in my writing and being one of my strongest supporters and greatest friends).
Honorable Mentions (list #1): My fictional queens: Hermione Granger, Leslie Knope, Rachel Berry, Peggy Carter, Natasha Romanoff, Princess Leia, Cindy Moon, Kate Bishop, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Catelyn Stark, Margaery Tyrell, Go Go Tamago, Mulan (from the Disney movie, okay?), Rapunzel, Merida, Tiana, Haruno Sakura, and more.
Honorable Mentions (list #2): My favorite authors: J.K. Rowling for inspiring me to write in the first place, Rainbow Rowell, Gabrielle Zevin, Kelly-Sue DeConnick, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Happy International Women’s Day, y’all.