2018 has been an eventful year, to say the least, chock-full of highs and lows and international controversy. But if there was one thing that truly shone amidst all the noise this year, it was that Filipinas have long since been highly capable, skilled, and accomplished individuals — and 2018 was the year the larger world finally realized and recognized that. From breaking sky-high barriers in skateboard ramps to slaying international runways, here are six Filipinas who captured international attention and acclaim — all in one year.
In August of this year, female weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia — the first for the Philippines. In 2016, Hidilyn also made history as the first Filipina to win a silver medal at the Olympics, and was the first weightlifter to do so.
And indeed, the barrier-breaking did not end there. In another instance of incredible Filipina skill and talent in sports, 19-year-old Margielyn Didal brought home the gold medal in women’s skateboarding street event in the same competition, garnering the lead with 30.4 total points — a far reach from Japan’s second place of 25.0 points. Aside from dominating the Olympics, Margielyn also previously led the Street League championships in London, England.
Filipinas also continued to shine in the fashion and modelling world, too, particularly in October of last year, when model Kelsey Merritt became the first Filipina to walk the revered Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway. The move has been touted as a barrier-breaking one, particularly in the show and organization’s move towards including more diversity in their models. The show’s casting process is widely-known to be highly selective, so Kelsey’s victory was shared by many fellow Filipinos.
Yet another Filipina taking barrier-breaking steps literally and figuratively was model and actress Maymay Entrata, who made her international modelling debut in the 2018 Arab Fashion Week in Dubai. The model herself was previously praised by fashion designer Furne One, who described her personality as “real and different”, which was what drew him to feature her in the show. Maymay herself was grateful for the opportunity to represent her country, describing it as a humbling experience.
In the journalism field, journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was honored by TIME Magazine as a Person of the Year, as part of a host of journalists heralded as “Guardians and the War on Truth.” In their feature, TIME heralded Ressa’s bravery in journalism, particularly in reporting on oppressive authoritarian figures, and in her tenacity amidst many oppressive forces.
In a year-ender whose repercussions are still felt weeks later, Catriona Gray ended 2018 with another win for the country — that of Miss Universe. Her crowning moment was one witnessed and shared by millions, most especially those of her fellow countrymen and women. From her now iconic slow-motion-runway-slaying to her eloquence in discussing social issues, the beauty queen has since made herself a household name, and is set to progress even further in her new role as Miss Universe.
Indeed, the past year has since showcased what has long been true — that Filipinas are capable, talented, and skilled in every way, and it is beyond doubt high time that the world — or indeed, universe — recognized that. 2018 brought us a host of such women; here’s to 2019 bringing even more.