Raising Hope: Celebrating Women in Healthcare and Wellness
International Women's Day

Raising Hope: Celebrating Women in Healthcare and Wellness

Photo by Petra Gana

Vogue Philippines celebrates International Women’s Day through “Raising Hope,” in a call for nominations of inspiring women. This initiative aims to honor women in the field of healthcare and wellness, recognizing their contributions to the improvement of the health and well-being of their communities.

From doctors to wellness advocates, Vogue Philippines honors exceptional women who play a vital role in promoting health, healing, and holistic well-being in their communities. These women tirelessly work to improve the lives of not only their patients and patrons but everyone around them, empowering people to lead healthier lives.

Elvie Victonette Razon Gonzales, Nominated by Paolo Vito Razon Gonzales

According to nominator Paolo Vito Razon Gonzales, Dr. Elvie Victonette Razon Gonzales is a remarkable woman whose expertise in medicine expands to the realm of literature. Trained as an internist-gastroenterologist and clinical epidemiologist at UP PGH, she has been recognized for her excellence in the medical field, receiving the Most Outstanding Fellow award from the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology in 2012. As a dedicated professor at the West Visayas State University College of Medicine, she shares her knowledge and passion with future medical professionals.

Beyond her medical achievements, Dr. Razon-Gonzales is a prolific writer whose poetry and essays have graced the pages of numerous magazines and anthologies, including prestigious literary journals like Poetika and Voice and Verse Literary Journal. Her literary prowess has garnered her several awards, including recognition at the Dr. Arturo B. Rotor Memorial Awards for Literature. In a historic moment, her English children’s short story triumphed at the 71st Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in November 2023, making her the first female doctor to achieve this honor.

Despite her professional accomplishments, Dr. Razon-Gonzales cherishes her role as a mother to four children. “I am proud to call her my mother,” Gonzales, her son, says. 

Karen Hennessey, Nominated by Keith “Kebo” Brown

According to nominator Keith “Kebo” Brown, Dr. Karen Hennessey, affectionately known as Dr. K, retired from the US CDC in 2017 after an illustrious 25-year career, which included 3.5 years at the PH WHO Regional office and 5 years in WHO Geneva. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hennessey emerged from retirement to dedicate herself full-time to aiding developing countries in accessing free vaccines, showcasing her unwavering commitment to global health issues.

Despite her tireless efforts, she plans to return to retirement to pursue her passions. “She has been working non-stop since retirement on global health issues, but will go back into retirement and enjoy other pursuits, mainly her love of travel, flipping real estate properties and our newly constructed house.” Brown says. 

Opaline Santos, Nominated by Philline Daguro 

According to nominator Philline Daguro, Opaline Santos “creates spaces that declare Spirit without shyness, reclaim and move with our indigenized ways and identity with Love, and the essence of both being human, and a humble medium of servitude to a Higher Being.”

Through practices such as Shamanic Journeying and Reiki Share, mentored by Babaylan Nenet from Iloilo, Santos honors elders and channels ancestral wisdom that resonates with her roots. Santos’ contributions matter deeply to her community, as they highlight the importance of honoring indigenous wisdom, fostering inclusive healing spaces, and prioritizing spiritual connection in holistic well-being practices.

Robyn Mijares, Nominated by Maria Alissa Torre

According to nominator Maria Alissa Torre, Robyn Mijares advocates for zero hunger through her various pursuits. At the age of 23, Robyn Camille Mijares is the Founder of Youth Uprising Philippines, a nonprofit organization that addresses food insecurity by providing free environmental and agricultural programs to public schools across the Philippines. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on mass hunger, health challenges, and disrupted supply chains, her initiative reached over 98,000 public school students in Las Piñas City. Mijares’ project, initially a school assignment, evolved into a real-world solution, empowering students to grow their own food at home and become self-sufficient regardless of age. Through initiatives like the “Oh My, GARDEN: Grow Your Own Food Contest,” she inspires and supports youth to pursue sustainable agriculture, addressing both food insecurity and the aging population of Filipino farmers. 

“With over 2000 current real-life stories of young people as young as 8 years old successfully feeding their families at home, she continues to change agriculture in the Philippines one school at a time, one student at a time.” Torre says.

Mijares’ dedication to fostering a new generation of environmentally conscious agricultural professionals highlights the intersection of health, economic and social well-being, and environmental sustainability. Through her efforts, she continues to inspire not just young people like her, but everyone in society. 

Visit vogue.ph everyday this month for daily features on inspiring women, as nominated by the people whose lives they’ve changed.

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