The gang’s all here: Stories from Grrrl Gang Manila

If you’re reading this, it’s too late — Grrrl Gang Manila is over. Well, the first one is. A casual meet-up for Filipina women, Grrrl Gang Manila is the brainchild of fashion designer Mich Dulce. Held last March, Mich shared during the meetup that Grrrl Gang came about because she sought out female solidarity. She wanted a place where women could talk about issues that concerned them in a space that was free of judgment, hate, and harassment.

It was an intimate but open group; one of our first activities was to introduce ourselves in a speed-dating format. As an introvert, I first thought of the exercise as a little overwhelming. But when I encountered girls who were much quieter than me opening up about their thoughts and feelings, I actually found it comforting. We all had different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs, but what we saw in each other was a touching sense of acceptance — regardless of who we were.

The next Grrrl Gang Manila is happening next month, but if you’d like to know a bit about what went down in the first one, we asked some of the attendees to share their experiences. Girl power, all of a sudden, isn’t as cheesy as it sounds.

“Grrrl Gang Manila is the place women are looking for when they need solace and companionship at the same time. There is this sense of calm security when you are surrounded with female friendship who share the same thoughts you have. I went home a changed woman. It was a spectrum of wisdom from the experiences of various women that I brought home with me. Courage is not always fists and canes; sometimes it is simply speaking up. Being brave does not require a weapon in hand; it only asks you to stand up. I learned so many things in one day, all thanks to my fellow females.”

– Jenica Castro, 19

“Hello, vaginas exist! Just a kind reminder from me. Grrrl Gang was an affirming experience to me, especially when it came to women’s health. I came from an all-girl Catholic school, and I didn’t learn what I needed there. I wish I had the support of the women at Grrrl Gang to tell me that if your ob-gyne gives you the stink-eye for saying that you need birth control, it’s time to find a new one.

I have a great group of feminist friends and peers who combat the patriarchy in their own ways with kick-ass zines, uterus stickers, and estrogen-driven punk rock, but Grrrl Gang gave me the opportunity to speak with women from all walks of life.”

– Mariah, 22

“It was honestly one of the best decisions I made to show up and be a part of this collective group of females with one goal in mind: to have a safe space where we can be girls among girls and be able to discuss topics or issues we felt strongly about without any judgment. I also appreciated that I was able to voice out my opinions and personal issues and actually being asked, “how do you feel about that?” It felt great to be able to have conversations that I normally have only in my head.”

– Mayee Manalo, 25

“I chanced upon Grrrl Gang Manila through my friend’s timeline and thought, ‘Hey, they might need a bit of help.’ That moment led to my volunteering for them, but little did I know that with that small step of helping, I’d be taking a personal giant leap into a community that I never thought would exist in my lifetime.

With the eyes of a geek, I didn’t just see a group of women on the day of the event. I witnessed leaders create safe spaces so that others may feel free to become non-fiction storytellers. As I listened, the storytellers became warriors who recounted stories of how they won and lost the everyday battles in the war against misogyny and oppression. As the event progressed, I saw strategists and visionaries craft plans on how to make the world a better place, not just for women, but for everyone.”

– Iyah Nuestro

Grrrl Gang Manila’s Grrrl Meet # 2 is set for May 6, 2017. Follow @grrrlgangmanila on Instagram, twitter and Facebook to stay updated.

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