Inspiration and empowerment take center stage at adobo SheCreative: Muses or Makers?, a panel celebrating women in entertainment

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The entertainment world still has a long way to go when it comes to sexism, but with more women controlling their own narratives today, things are moving in the right direction. At Muses or Makers?, an adobo SheCreative session on women evolving creativity in entertainment, five of the Philippines’ top female creative leaders shared their stories of being changemakers in their industry. The year-ender SheCreative event was held last December 14, 2023, at The Astbury in Poblacion, Makati.

Joining host MJ Foz in the discussion were Bianca Balbuena, General Manager of Kroma Entertainment’s Anima Studios; Abby Mariano, Subcultures Lead for Korean Culture at Globe; Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, First Lady of Philippine Musical Theater; Tessa Albea, Vice President of Customer Engagement of Kumu; and Garlic Garcia, Head of Content Partnerships at Viu Philippines.

Nala Ortiz, Senior Content Manager at adobo Magazine, kicked things off with a brief opener on the day’s topic: how women’s roles in entertainment shifted from just muses to being makers with full agency in their craft.


“Throughout the areas of entertainment, it is widely known that women have been portrayed as muses,” she said. “But right now, we want to know how we as women have grasped the role of makers and creators, transforming and revolutionizing the industry as we know it today.” 

Abby then talked about how she found her role in the industry by staying true to her community-centric outlook and nurturing fandoms — specifically, the K-pop subculture.

“Subcultures are the new demographics,” she shared. “When we talk about subcultures, it’s synonymous with communities. Communities are now an integral part of our daily lives.”

Communities, Abby explained, help audiences create more meaningful relationships with their entertainment. “We are in the feelings business,” she said, underscoring the value of getting involved with subcultures around works of entertainment and actively engaging with them.

Garlic followed with a rousing talk on how she claimed the name “Garlic,” originally a bully’s taunt, as her own and how reframing her relationship with the things that hurt her led to a fruitful, decades-long career in entertainment.

“You actually have the power to transform something bad into good,” she taught. “We all have that power. Whatever it is you’re going through, you have the power to turn something bad into good.”

Tessa brought an incredible amount of energy to the stage as she shared the story of how she used her unique identity as a big brown woman to make her name in the industry. Rather than let any sense of insecurity take over, she chose to own what made her different.

“Embrace being the outsider,” she said, “Because being the outsider is the most relatable thing in this industry.”

For Bianca, it’s all about building an environment where being female isn’t the sole thing that sets filmmakers apart from others. She rallied the audience around the idea that “woman” no longer needed to be a label or a qualifier for creators.

“I hope that we go into the future where we don’t have to label ourselves as ‘women filmmakers,’ ‘women producers,’ ‘women in cinema,’ because you don’t see that with men making films, right? I hope we go into the future, where women making films and women leading the industry becomes the norm,” she said in a rousing speech on her career and her vision.

Closing out the talks was Menchu, who, in a retrospective of her four-decade career, shared the most valuable lesson she’d learned in all those years:

“My advice, really, to kids who want to do theater is just to be ready for the hard work. Know that it’s a lot of hard work. Don’t go into it because you want to be a star; it’s a very difficult path,” she said, after sharing story after story of the rigors of a job she didn’t even start out wanting. “And always think that you can do the impossible because I certainly did.”

The five women then reunited onstage for a lively panel discussion on what it takes to succeed in the entertainment industry, fielding questions from engaged audiences both in-person and online. 

Adobo Magazine closed out the evening with a set by DJ Miaow, ending the year with much appreciation for 2023’s lineup of inspiring guests. As guests enjoyed the afterparty, spirits were high for another exciting year of SheCreative in 2024.

The adobo SheCreative Network session Muses or Makers? was made possible thanks to our event partners and sponsors:

• Platinum partner: Globe

• Food and beverage partners: The Brew Pod, Moonleaf, Jade’s Temple Brewery, Cream Puff by Juanchos, Jollibee, Greenwich

• Swag partners: CloseUp, Dazzle Me, Mondelez, Viu, Lahat Group

• Venue partner: The Astbury

• Streaming partner: It’s Happening

Partner with adobo Magazine

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