Based in Singapore, Filipina Belle Baldoza works with the communications leads across 15 markets in the region to tell the story of Uber and Uber Eats in creative ways through strategic brand campaigns. She’s had over 12 years of experience as a communications professional through various relevant roles held in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, having worked for big brands such as Netflix, Spotify, and Ogilvy & Mather. Learn about how she used her education and overall tatak-Pinay grit and attitude to get herself making ripples in the international startup scene!
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What motivated you to be good at what you’re doing?
Belle: Losing my father, who died suddenly when I was 12, turned me into an adult overnight. As a result, my relatively comfortable upbringing soon turned into a struggle for even the most basic of resources, such as food and education. This particular event in my life served as the catalyst to shaping the person I am today. As the eldest member of the family, even at such a young age, I felt responsible for my loved ones and made it a mission to achieve greater things in life because I wanted to provide for them. My family has always been my north star and I’m thankful that I have been able to share with them the fruits of my labor throughout the years.
Who were your female role models while growing up?
B: My first loves are writing and music, two of my life’s biggest passions even until today, so the first women I’ve admired have carved their own niche in these areas. I grew up really looking up to Jessica Zafra–her sharp and somewhat cynical style of writing really spoke to me during my angsty teenage years. I have a long list of female music icons I admire but topping that list would be Gwen Stefani. “Tragic Kingdom” was one of the first albums I have ever bought with my own money and from the day I discovered No Doubt’s music, I have been in awe of Gwen’s unapologetic and eclectic personal style.
Describe your social upbringing and how it affected your views on girl power.
B: Like most Filipino households, my mom was an omnipresent figure in our home, and I grew up seeing her manage most aspects of our lives on a daily basis. Growing up as the eldest, I felt that I was always empowered to speak up and make decisions. Attending the University of the Philippines from high school throughout college, I was also heavily influenced by strong female characters in the form of my English teachers, who not only helped cultivate in me a love for literature but also the belief that there’s always a benefit in making your voice heard.
How do you compare the state of gender equality then and now?
B: I have always been an advocate for gender equality because growing up, I was very much aware of issues surrounding gender roles and stereotypes. In fact, for my undergraduate thesis (I took BA Broadcast Communication at UP Diliman) I produced a documentary around the objectification of women in noontime shows. I wanted to focus on this topic to start a conversation around how women are being represented in the Filipino entertainment industry. I think this form of objectification still remains, sadly, but there is a climate of awareness right now which I hope will serve as a catalyst to changing how women are being perceived and marketed in media moving forward.
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In your own ways, how do you empower your fellow women?
B: Most people think that being in PR means that I love talking, but I actually also love listening. Lending a supportive ear to my fellow women, whether on a personal or professional capacity, is something I’ve always been predisposed to do, because I believe that women are best placed to support other women. I’m currently channeling this appetite for listening into a commitment to mentor younger women in my areas of expertise, such as personal branding or navigating the tech and PR industries.
How did you react on the Weinstein controversy? How do you react to “victim-shaming” every time you hear about it? ?
B: Having worked in the entertainment industry, I was definitely outraged, but at the same time also hopeful that the byproduct of the controversy will help change the way women are being treated and represented. I think it was high time we had a reckoning, but I also think we’re just getting started. With regards to victim-shaming especially in the case of sexual misconduct and assault, I think this concept is still largely a byproduct of misconceptions and gender stereotypes, and it doesn’t help that the rise of social media has also helped proliferate this to some extent. People tend to blame victims so that they can feel safe themselves. But I think the risk of running into victim-shamers should never deter anyone from speaking up about their ordeal. Because I believe that in exposing the abuse in the first place can make a significant impact or at the very least, encourage a discourse around the matter.
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If you were to answer the Miss Universe Q&A question thrown at Sushmita Sen in 1994, “What is the essence of being a woman?” how would you answer it?
B: Embracing her true self, in all her perfect imperfection. Womanhood is a manifestation of all the nuances that set us apart from men, emotionally, mentally, biologically. While I absolutely advocate gender equality, I also recognize that men and women are wired differently and are thus predisposed to approach life and all the complications that surround it in different ways. Getting comfortable in one’s own skin and with all the cracks beneath the surface requires a journey of learning and self-awareness - it would also not be possible without learning from fellow women and even men along the way.
Who are your female role models now?
Oh my, it’s so hard to just name a few - I look up to a lot of women! Among those who I really look up to are mainly women in tech such as Bozoma Saint John, the Chief Brand Officer for Uber. I’ve never seen a woman so unapologetically herself, but at the same time fueled with so much passion and purpose for what she does in and out of the office. Eva Chen, the Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram. I admire her for her authenticity as she gives hundreds of thousands of her followers a glimpse into her real life through the social media platform, which involves juggling motherhood and her day job. And Sheryl Sandberg, the current COO of Facebook. What I admire about her, is her ability to show vulnerability and a quiet strength in the wake of unforeseen tragedies in her life.
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If it were up to you, which persons (local or international) would best represent WHIP (Women who are Hot, Intelligent, and in their Prime)?
A few women have helped put the Philippines on the global stage by making a significant contribution in their respective areas of expertise come to mind: Monique Lhuillier, a favorite designer among Hollywood celebrities, Nicole Ponseca, who has championed Filipino cuisine so it can find a place in the American mainstream dining industry, Rachelle Ann Go who, like Lea Salonga, has found her spotlight in the global theatre circuit. There are so many women out there who are changing the world in their own way, so this list is definitely a long one!
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Photos from Belle Baldoza