"On April 6-7, 2018, I had the great honor and privilege to attend Pinay Powerhouse II “PPII” in downtown Los Angeles, CA as a 2L law student volunteer. I almost did not attend due to the travel, budget and time restraints being a working mother and student, but thanks to my mentor and good friend, Lorna, I was reminded that it would be well worth the sacrifice. And indeed, it was a priceless experience! Additionally, it was also a true blessing to receive a scholarship stipend graciously provided by FBANC President Lorna Garcia and FBANC Advisory Board Members/Past Presidents Vanessa Candelaria, Christine Start, Billy Chan and Mark Punzalan.
I find it quite symbolic that I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Pinay Powerhouse Conference “PPI” as a 1L last year, and had the chance to attend again this year, the PPII as a 2L. Barely even considered a baby lawyer since I’m only half-way through the law school canal, I feel like I’m a proverbial fetus lawyer experiencing a re-birth while integrating through the #pinaynow movement in its genesis. I may not be practicing law yet, but with each Pinay Powerhouse event, my service and advocacy-driven spirit has been injected with empowerment, and my veins pumped with more hope, inspiration, greater aspirations, and larger dreams. My “Why” was again reinforced during PPII, especially during the breakout sessions, when I realized, after hearing from others’ stories, that beyond myself and my family is the strength behind the network of support and sisterhood in our legal community.
And besides the influential dialogs, sparking of new connections and reuniting with familiar sisters-in-LAW, were the spectacular details surrounding the entire event! Starting on Friday evening’s reception with the extravagant entrance of the OUE Skyspace, we were greeted with a warm welcome at the registration desk, which led to the swanky spacewalk and fabulous lightshow mirror floors, and finally arriving to the top floor with stunning panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles. The sights were breathtaking, the speakers of PABA and Sidley were captivating, and the DJ’ing by The Phenomenal Gingee was jamming! I had to volunteer at the registration table for most of the night so I missed the hors d’oeuvres by Chef A.C. Boral, but I was told they were absolutely delish! I concluded the evening with some of my FBANC sisters while feasting on late-night burritos and nachos, and winding down with some wine and quality time girl talk in our fancy complex in downtown LA. I could hardly sleep for the big conference just a few hours away!
A few FBANC sisters, myself and others kicked-off the pre-conference with a 6:00AM yoga session on Saturday morning, led by our Master Yogi and birthday lady, Christine Start! And despite all of us still feeling drained from the travel and partying the night before, it was a much-needed rejuvenation after the session and our intimate group felt fired-up to start the full day of the PPII conference! I rushed to refresh and get in place as a registration table volunteer, where I met other law student colleagues and new friends. Large sponsorship posters and tables lined the walkways to the breakfast buffets and the main room, where PABA President and PPII Co-Chair Zathrina Perez gave us an exciting welcome! PPI Co-Founder and former FBANC President Christine Start followed, who was serenated on stage with a marvelous “Happy Birthday” song by the crowd! Christine shared her fascinating story about the new book she is featured in called, “The Feminine Sixth,” wherein for the first time, she plugged and shared her challenges and how her unexpected stories came to life.
I’ve learned that we not only need to find champion mentors but how it is key to be a great mentor ourselves, and that our circle of influence is just as important as our circle of trust between our family and friends. After hearing from panel speakers, I’ve developed a deeper sense of respect for our Pinay leaders who have practiced “Voice and Visibility,” and the message is clear, that we need a stronger Pinay representation in leadership roles, and even more so in judicial seats, government office and in politics. As Filipinos, most of us believe in faith, family, and paying it forward. But as minority women, we are a double-edged sword that needs to be comfortable with discomfort, and we need to break out of our limiting beliefs by beating the odds with fearless confidence, passion and kindness, as expressed by Jackie Lou D. Raquidan.
Panel speaker, Gloria Ochoa also reminded us that we should not put limits on ourselves. What I appreciated most about her was her expressing her robust work ethics and value for family, having balanced between working for the Senate Judiciary and various government and private counsel roles, while still making time to raise her children, even if it meant taking them to work with her and working between 11pm and 3am. We also learned about new tax laws and policy initiatives behind sexual harassment from Millicent Sanchez, and we were educated with labor and employment laws and advocacy from Toni Jaramilla. We were informed about protections for domestic workers by speaker Adrianne De Castro. Hon. Lisa M. Chung and Rachel Juliana both emphasized the value behind getting involved and developing our leadership through bar associations like FBANC and PABA, and that we need to seize the moments when opportunity knocks, even with it’s not the most convenient timing, according to Hon. Lorna G. Schofield. Such powerful words of advice and wisdom from those who have paved the paths before us, from just a few of the many influential lady leaders of the law who we heard speak and moderate the panels and breakout sessions.
From group photos, to break-out session selfies and panel discussions, the whole day was filled with waves of empowerment, influence, leadership and mentorship through education and shared stories of struggle, success, advocacy and resilience. The early evening concluded with an elaborate Halo-Halo bar on the rooftop patio of the Omni Hotel, where we talked more stories, took more pictures, and made more memories. Maraming salamat to the founding FBANC for PPI and to PABA for continuing to thrive with PPII. So much inspiration, support and sisterhood compacted into one weekend, but with impact that will last a lifetime. I look forward and onward as the legacy, the movement, and the blessings continue!"
– Jamie Juni