Inspiring Filipinas

It’s always impressive when Filipinos achieve global success against all odds. These achievements are even more special when they are accomplished by women, considering the limited opportunities available to them until recent years.

These inspiring Filipinas excel in various fields, proudly representing the Filipino flag locally and globally. Their achievements prove that you can accomplish anything no matter your age and background.

1. Dolly De Leon – Golden Globes and BAFTA nominee

Inspiring Filipinas - Dolly De Leon
Image credit: @dollyedeleon via Instagram

After 30 years of being cast in minor roles in the Philippines, actress Dolly De Leon finally got her big, international break at the age of 53.

Her role as Abigail in the Palm d’Or-winning film Triangle of Sadness made her the first Filipino Golden Globes and British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) nominee.

Though she has yet to secure a win at these prestigious events, she has gained recognition for her performance, including winning the Best Supporting Performer award at the Los Angeles Film Critic Awards.

De Leon auditioned for Triangle of Sadness without an agent, but she now boasts an international team and has several Hollywood projects lined up.

2. Isabel Sieh – Girls Will Code founder

Inspiring Filipinas - Isabel Sieh
Image credit: @isabelsendeavors via Instagram

At the age of 10, Isabel Sieh began learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript online. By the age of 12, she started teaching these programming languages to other girls in her hometown in Antipolo, Rizal.

At 15, she founded the startup Girls Will Code to inspire young girls to explore STEM fields. Her startup has since collaborated with major tech companies, including Google and Accenture.

Now 19 and a student at Stanford University, Sieh also established The Coding School Philippines, which offers coding, game development, robotics, and other classes for children and teenagers.

3. Rachel Ann Go – international musical theater actress

Inspiring Filipinas - Rachel Ann Go
Image credit: @gorachelleann via Instagram

Rachel Ann Go has come a long way since winning the TV talent show Search for a Star in 2003. From singing and acting, she ventured into musical theater, taking on the lead role of Ariel in a local production of The Little Mermaid in 2011.

This led her to prestigious theaters abroad, including West End and Broadway. Notable among her roles are Fantine in Les Miserables at London’s Sondheim Theater in 2015, and Eliza in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biographical musical Hamilton for its original West End production.

For her portrayal in Hamilton, Go clinched the BroadwayWorld UK Award for Best Actress in a New Production of a Musical. She reprised her role as Eliza for Hamilton’s international tour which ran from September 2023 to February 2024.

4. Gini Cruz Santos – Filipina animator at Disney-Pixar

Gini Cruz SAntos
Image credit: Good News Pilipinas

The next inspiring Filipina on this list has contributed to animating some of our favorite Disney-Pixar films. Gini Cruz Santos worked on notable movies such as Ratatouille (2007), Brave (2012), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), and Coco (2017).

Her outstanding work has earned her several nominations, including for her realistic animation of the character Dory in Finding Nemo (2003).


Born in the Philippines, Cruz Santos moved to Guam at the age of 3 before returning to pursue Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas. She later obtained her masters in Computer Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has been a part of Pixar since 1996.

5. Bianca Bustamante – Filipina F1 Academy racer

Inspiring Filipinas - Bianca Bustamante
Image credit: @racerbia via Instagram

18-year-old Bianca Bustamante is the first Filipina to join the renowned British motorsports team McLaren’s driver development program. She’s also only the second female racer to be signed by the renowned team.

Following her father’s footsteps, the Filipina racer began karting at the age of 5.  At age 8, she had won nearly all the awards for young kart drivers in the Philippines and Asia, including a three-time win at the Macao International Kart Grand Prix.

Bustamante achieved her first F1 Academy race win in Valencia, Spain under the Italian motorsports team, PREMA Racing. She will be racing for McLaren this 2024.

6. Josephine Santiago-Bond – Filipina systems engineer at NASA

Josephine Santiago-Bond
Image credit: Nasa public affairs via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re fascinated by space, you should definitely know about Josephine Santiago-Bond, a US-born Filipina who serves as a systems engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Santiago-Bond’s journey with NASA began in 2004 as an intern, which transitioned into a full-time role as an electronics engineer a year later. She has contributed to numerous groundbreaking projects, including the launch of the 327-foot unmanned rocket, Ares I-X, in 2009.

She’s been with NASA for 20 years and, as of 2022, was leading a team of 50 scientists across 3 branches.

7. Jervi Li – first transgender news anchor in the Philippines

Inspiring Filipinas - Jervi Li Kaladkaren
Image credit: @kaladkaren via Instagram

Jervi Li, also known as KaladKaren, made her-story as the first transgender news anchor in the Philippines, hosting Frontline Pilipinas on TV5.

She first gained popularity as news anchor Karen Davila’s impersonator in 2016. Then, in 2018, began her TV hosting career, with stints in Umagang Kay Ganda, TV Patrol, and E.A.T.

However, Li’s acting career started much earlier in 2011 and continues to this day. In fact, she was also the first transwoman to win Best Supporting Actress in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) for her performance in Here Comes the Groom (2023).

Inspiring Filipinas in different fields

This list serves as a powerful reminder of the boundless capabilities of Filipinas and their remarkable achievements across various fields. May their stories inspire you this Women’s Month and all year round!

For additional inspiration, explore these Filipino actresses who embody beauty, talent, and philanthropy. You can also show your appreciation to the inspiring Filipinas in your life through flowers from one of these flower shops in Metro Manila.

Cover image adapted from: @kaladkaren via Instagram, @dollyedeleon via Instagram, @racerbia via Instagram


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