Press "Enter" to skip to content

Women in Spotlight: MinDA honors 6 Mindanaoans

The first Mindanao Women in Development Awards 2024, led by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Usec. Janet Lopoz (first from left), and Secretary Ma. Belen Acosta (sixth starting from left), together with awarded women Fatima Pepe Kanakan, Reggie dela Rosa Punongbayan, Bai Norhata Alonto, Nenita Tan, Dr. Sitti Zayda Halun, Ar. Gloryrose Dy-Metilla, with the judges from UP-Mindanao chancellor Prof. Lyre Anni Murao and Consul of Hungary Mary Ann Montemayor, held at Waterfront Insular Hotel on March 22.

TO CELEBRATE the individuals behind community development, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) inaugurated its first Mindanao Women in Development Awards 2024, honoring six women finalists who advocated change in their respective sectors. 

The inauguration was held on March 22 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel and was attended by various empowered women all over Mindanao. 

MinDA Secretary Maria Belen Acosta shared in her speech that the idea of the recognition sprung up as they saw the need to look into the vulnerable sectors of Mindanao, ensuring its improved quality of life for everyone. 

“As Mindanao launches the first Mindanao Women and Development Awards this year, we are also promoting the active engagement of women across Mindanao and recognizing their stellar contributions to the inclusive development of the island region,” Acosta said. 

She also emphasized how they witnessed and met women at the forefront, leading change without any recognition.

“We are targeting this recognition to be a yearly event as Minda upholds women of today.  And time and time again, we want to ensure that the roles, identities, and expertise of the women development workers are seen and validated,” she added. 

Among the Mindanaoan women honored were Reggie dela Rosa Punongbayan and Bai Norhata Alonto from Iligan City, Ar. Gloryrose Dy-Metilla from Davao City, Fatima Pepe Kanakan from Cotabato City, Dr. Sitti Zayda Halun from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, and Nenita Tan from Cagayan de Oro City. 

Punongbayan fostered growth and opportunities as president of the Chamber of Commerce and Foundation of Iligan Inc. since 2017 and has been at the forefront of driving business, entrepreneurship, and community development. One of their advocacies is to lead the ease of doing a business program to foster collaborations with government and private sectors and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. 

“We women can do this, right? Our priority is our family. I think the current generation wants women to be empowered. So that’s why one of the advocacies is to promote policy that is supportive of women’s development,” Punongbayan said in her speech. 

In the same way, Alonto led change for gender equality and economic empowerment among women as the key member of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor. During her tenure years, she spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives under the Kalahi Program of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

“There’s a stigma that Muslim women are just good for the house, for home, for their children, within the confines of their home. Ang daming mga misconceptions. But the truth is, we needed to come out that there is no such thing as Muslim women,” Alonto stressed. 

Architect Glory Rose Dy-Metilla also earned its award by translating Mindanao’s beautiful culture into architecture in Davao City. Coffee for Peace is one of her first clients. The majority of her clients are from the Bangsamoro region, designing barangay and municipal halls, and even one of the offices of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government. 

When asked if her designs are more expensive compared to the more common modern ones, she said that it’s cheaper, as everything is sourced locally. She believes that more than the cost, doing the project also revives the local economy.

Kanakan also stands out for her unwavering dedication to the upliftment of indigenous communities, particularly women in Cotabato City. One of Fatima’s notable achievements is the establishment of two indigenous people’s school buildings in 2001 and 2002, located in the municipalities of South Upi and North Upi, Maguindanao. 

Dr. Halun made a big difference in Tawi-Tawi by innovating solutions for seaweed research and development, helping seaweed farmers produce more seaweeds and make more income. Halun devoted her time to researching seaweeds and has produced a new strain that is resistant to disease and climate change. 

Nenita Tan pioneered the technology for ready-to-eat food packs in Mindanao as the owner of Best Friend Goodies and has helped many other women who want to earn a living. During the pandemic, Tan saw an opportunity to innovate and expand her reach, pivoting Best Friend Goodies to offer ready-to-eat nutritious options while ensuring accessibility for all. 

Secretary Acosta also hoped that, through the initiative, other women in Mindanao would also be inspired to do the same for community development. 

“We are planning to approach funders, NGOs and NGAs, and if they support their advocacy, malaking impact ito sa community, kasi meron na din tayong proof of concept. Hopefully, ma-sustain ‘yung kanilang advocacy,” she added. 



Powered By ICTC/DRS