Breaking barriers: Filipina educator empowers women to find courage and succeed

Success is often associated with the prosperity in life or one’s social influence, but for Dr. Maria Africa Beebe Ph.D., chairman of the Board of Directors of Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) based in the United States, it can be made possible by setting the goals straight, regardless of a person’s gender or status in life.

To enlarge the need of young Filipinas for empowered women they can emulate, and to amplify positive stories about Filipinas, Dr. Beebe hatched the idea for DISRUPT, a book that tackles leadership stories of influential Filipinas across the globe.

Objects and agents

The Filipina educator based in Hawaii told The Filipino Times that DISRUPT was conceptualized as stories of women who become ‘objects of disruption’ continue to unfold.

“For example, their parents immigrated when they were children, the women are running away from abusive husbands, the women are running towards new loves,” she explained.

According to her, Filipina can stand tall in this ugly truth by constantly challenging the stereotypes and refusing to be shackled by societal expectations. “Filipina women have disrupted the status quo by being first and foremost in their technical fields of expertise and by exceeding expectations,” Dr. Beebe said.

Being an FWN awardee herself, she understands the need for women to cross every barricade in their way and break the societal boundaries they are confined into. “Some have experienced discrimination based on race, gender, immigrant status, age, sex orientation and other forms of micro-aggressions in the workplace or in everyday life.”

Despite all these, the tales of remarkable Filipinas included in the book did not let failures and setbacks get in their way to success.

Among the women who were featured in DISRUPT are from the United Arab Emirates: Mary Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi, Roxane Magbanua, Cristina Calaguian, Rachel Salinel, and Wafa Qasimieh.

Humble beginnings

Before she became an accomplished woman, Dr. Beebe lived in a humble town in Zambales, where she finished her bachelor studies, major in English. After which, she took another step to obtain an education master’s degree from the De La Salle University.  

“I was one of the first batch of women accepted to graduate school at De La Salle in nineteen-kopong-kopong,” she told TFT.

In the same year, she married an American Peace Corps Volunteer and soon became a volunteer herself. Then, she went abroad to complete her postgraduate studies.

“After my US Peace Corps Volunteer experience in Bontoc, Mt. Province, I went to Stanford University in California and completed a Masters in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Education. I consider getting my Ph.D. degree as a success milestone since I had two children between completing my coursework and completing my dissertation,” shared Dr. Beebe.

Defining success

“Success is achieving what you set out to do,” she told TFT.

It has been five decades since Dr. Beebe set out to be an extraordinary woman. “I have succeeded and exceeded my expectations for myself,” admitted Dr. Beebe who measures her success through the simple joys in life: career fulfillment, happy marriage, and children who know “pakikipagkapwa, malasakit and tapang ng loob.”

For Dr. Beebe, the purpose of the collective stories by Filipina leaders in DISRUPT is to inspire, motivate and nurture not only Filipinas but also non-Filipina women whose success have been limited. In this book, women can find courage and indomitable spirit to break the barriers.

“I never wanted to be rich but to be financially independent to take care of my well-being and to prepare for what I want in the end,”

The book DISRUPT 3.0. Filipina Women Rising will be revealed at the House of Lords at the U.K. Parliament as one of the key events coinciding with the FWN’s awarding of 100 Most Influential Filipinas on September 13, 2018.


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