Illustrado Community Projects


Since March 2008

Illustrado’s Women of Substance event happens every March in conjunction with International Women’s Day. It is a celebration of Filipina empowerment, achievement and contribution aiming to provide inspiration to boost the morale of the Filipino community, and to be a reflection of the positive and balanced international image of the Filipina. Each year, Filipina role models from all walks of life, who represent achievement and societal contribution, are honored in what has become the Filipino community’s most prestigious event in the Gulf. Going beyond beauty, society and popularity contests WOS has honored to date diplomats, business leaders, entrepreneurs, charity workers, artists, beauty queens, a lady pilot, ambitious executives, including housewives, teachers, significant moms and an exemplary domestic helper.

Honorees Gallery 2008-2012



From March 2012

Illustrado’s Day of Sisterhood is an project dedicated to celebrating “Pinay Power.”  An offshoot of Illustrado’s Women of Substance campaign, the Day of Sisterhood is an event where attendees were provided useful information on topics that could help them enrich their lives.  The event is also a platform where the women can fearlessly discuss personal concerns and issues, especially those related to reproductive health and sexual empowerment.

The highlight of the Day of Sisterhood is when guests are asked to take the “Pinays Take Charge Pledge” a set of guideline of specific advices hoping to inform, educate and alert Filipinas on how to handle compromising situations. The “Pinays Take Charge Pledge” include reminders for Filipinas on being responsible for their bodies and their actions, being alert of possible dangers or situations that can lead to trouble particularly in a Middle Eastern settings, as well as loving themselves and exercising self-respect.

Read more on Illustrado’s Day of Sisterhood here

Read the Pinays Take Charge Pledge here

Pinays Take Charge small



March 2010

Under the Patronage of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Illustrado has joined forces with Dubai-based film director Kamil Roxas, Winner of the Hayah Film Competition at the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) in 2008, to create “The Empowered Filipina.” The mini-documentary film provides a compelling message of Filipina empowerment that is slated to create positive ripples throughout the Filipino expatriate community in the region and around the world.

The film carries the message of empowerment which is the core of Illustrado’s Women of Substance Project – and that is a call for Filipinas to uplift themselves despite prevalent negative stereotypes. The film has been created not only to make Filipinos aware of the effects of Pinay stereotyping, especially here in the Gulf, but most importantly to create that spark of positive action that will encourage each Filipina to carve a better future for herself by further enriching her talents and skills and developing love for self, confidence and self-respect.

“The Empowered Filipina” which had its premiere screening at Illustrado’s Women of Substance event on the 27th March 2010 was released on the WWW on the 12th of April 2010, via Youtube and through social networking sites, and is being rolled-out in Filipino communities throughout the world, in independent screenings events through links with Filipino schools, community organizations, Philippine government offices, NGOs, women’s groups, socio-civic as well as spiritual groups.

Watch the film here in 3 parts.

Synopsis: What makes a Filipina? | Breaking out of the entrenched stereotype. Over the years, Filipinas working overseas have been greatly stereotyped and put in a negative light. This documentary follows a collective group of global Filipinas who have been deeply affected by these issues and how they chose to respond by sharing the positivity, and the advocacy of a common mission – uplifting the morale of Filipinas everywhere.

The Empowered Filipina – Part 1

The Empowered Filipina – Part 2

The Empowered Filipina – Part 3

The Empowered Filipina – Trailer




March 2011

Winner of the Film Media Award (Documentary) at the 1st First Migration Advocacy and Media Awards – Philippines
Illustrado’s second mini-documentary used to create awareness on Filipina issues viewed in the Gulf region, Philippines and countries across the globe.  Directed by Kamil Roxas

Synopsis: The Filipina on Top: Deconstructing Maria Clara. Getting to the heart of the Pinay’s Madonna-Whore Syndrome.  Is the modern Filipina well-informed enough not to fall into bad situations? Or are we unknowingly contributing to our own problems?

Watch The Filipina on Top – Part 1 of 2

Watch The Filipina on Top – Part 2 of 2

Watch The Filipina on Top – Trailer



A collaborative oevre from the rising Filipino Photographers of the Gulf. This rich coffee table book is a joint project of Illustrado with some 20 Filipino photography clubs in the Gulf region, featuring the works of 120 professional and amateur Filipino photographers from around the GCC. The book not only portrays the vibrant setting and community life around the Gulf, but also highlights Filipino creative presence in the region and hopes to be a platform for local Filipino creative talent. It is a goodwill tool that has been created as a tribute to the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – an ode in praise of our adoptive countries in the Gulf which have given our community the opportunity to grow and flourish.

Introductions and Sub-Intros written by Philippine Literary Legend, Carlos Palanca Hall of Famer Author Krip Yuson; Foreword written by Illustrado Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Lalaine Chu-Benitez .





October 2015

Illustrado salutes the Filipino trailblazers, tastemakers and thought leaders of the Gulf.

Read about our homage to the best of the best Filipinos in the region here



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