We all want a happy and fulfilling life. But the question is how do we find it? That joyful state of ikigai, or the intersection of doing what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.
As a girl, there’s the added pressure of people telling you what you can and cannot be. If you’re dealing with self-doubt, you’ll need an assuring voice to remind you that you will find your way—in this case, through the stories of successful women who have gone through the same struggles you’re facing.
On this note, we welcome National Women’s Month with heartfelt “slam book” conversations with our #FutureOfYoungPinays ambassadors.
Here’s hoping you find the inspiration and advice you need to succeed in your own path.
At 28 years old, Director-Producer Jen Tarnate is the epitome of a multipotentialite.
As early as college, she would sign up for classes—from biology, anthropology, to pilates—that “had nothing to do” with her major in Broadcast Communication. Today, she takes on several projects such as photography series about underrepresented people in media and an online business that sells eco-friendly products (which she personally makes!). She’s living proof that success doesn’t have to be boxed into one category, having also made it as a director and producer for big networks including AXN, History Channel Asia, Discovery Channel TLC, and ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).
The world doubts the person who has multiple passions. If you’ve ever felt pressured to have “one true calling,” then this slam book Q&A with Jen is what you need to read today.
Favorite subject in school and why
Back in school, I loved and signed up for classes that had absolutely nothing to do with my course- biology, arts, anthropology, even pilates (P.E.). Not because I didn’t like my majors, but because subjects outside my course allowed me to have a wider and more integral view of the world. How can you be given a platform to create if you have nothing meaningful to share?
School and course in college
Why did you choose your course?
I wanted to pursue a course that would allow me to explore and tell stories – both mine and others’. It was a privilege to be exposed to film early on, having a grandfather who’s a film editor, and to be part of the family who started Sampaguita Pictures, one of the largest production studios during the First Golden Age of Philippine Cinema. I learned early on the power of the moving image: it can heal, make or break history, change lives.
How did your course help you become the person you are today?
It taught me to be responsible and accountable for everything that I say, do, create, and put out in the world. It also taught me the value of showing up, no matter what.
What’s your biggest insecurity as a student? How do you overcome it?
We weren’t from a well-to-do family but I was fortunate enough to study in a great university through a scholarship program.
One of my biggest struggles in college was not having my own camera and laptop, both necessary to produce videos required almost every week. It was so embarrassing having to constantly borrow my friends’ equipment (but my friends are the best, though). Thankfully, I was also learning how to sculpt at that time so I joined a prestigious arts competition which helped me sell my very first sculpture. That afforded me to buy second-hand equipment.
What achievement are you most proud of during your school life?
It’s an achievement for me to be able to balance all my extra-curricular activities (student orgs, mountain hiking, scuba diving, sculpting, etc.) while maintaining part-time work as a studio photographer on weekends, and still graduating cum laude and on time. College taught me the importance of time management and pursuing a well-rounded life. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely possible to achieve both!
What’s the most important thing you learned in your student life?
The most important thing I learned about being a student is that you’ll never stop being one. It doesn’t end in the classroom or when you graduate. As you grow older, you’ll realize that there’s so much room for learning in all the aspects of life—career, relationships, well-being, and so on. You just need to be patient and kind to yourself as you aim to grow into a wiser and better person each day.
One of my favorite books is ‘All Our Waves Are Water: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment and the Perfect Ride’ by Jaimal Yogis. Quite a long title but a really good book that talks about finding holiness in surfing and in every day life.
Who’s your life peg? Why?
I love so many women for many different reasons! My pegs for bravery and grit in telling important stories is Isobel Yeung (VICE host and correspondent) and Hannah Reyes-Morales (photojournalist). I love how Solenn Heusaff doesn’t take herself too seriously. I admire her for being confident and real. I’m also a fan of my best friend, Chynna Gonzales (Founder of Adornata jewelry), for sticking with her vision and dream since we were 15.
What are you passionate about?
Good and genuine stories, warm cup of coffee, that feeling when the plane takes off and you know you’re in for an adventure. The smell of freshly baked bread, being by the ocean, having long and meaningful conversations with friends and strangers. And sashimi. Sashimi makes my heart happy.
What’s your advice on finding and pursuing one’s passion and purpose?
If you haven’t found it yet, don’t stop looking! And if you already have, be relentless in the pursuit of excellence while being kind to others and to yourself. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride!
What’s the hardest thing about being a girl?
The unnecessary pressure and struggles that come with society’s expectations of what a girl should be. That includes daily battles such as walking outside the street with the discomfort of being catcalled or getting caught in a crowded space with the fear of being harassed. We are burdened by seemingly mundane and impractical fears that we need to resolve—not just as women but as an accountable society.
What’s the best thing about being a girl?
Not exclusive to us, but I believe women have the innate and exceptional ability to be both strong and gentle. It’s a combination that has allowed us to nurture civilizations since the beginning of time.
In your own words, what’s gender equality?
For me, gender equality means fair and equal access to opportunities and decision-making, without anyone having to beg or ask for it.That includes having a safe space for everyone’s stories and truths to be heard and fairly represented.
What’s something that makes you proud to be a woman this National Women’s Month?
So much great things to celebrate this women’s month! I was recently granted full scholarship for an MA in Documentary in Film Directing in Europe, and I’m committed to telling stories of women and minority groups’ struggles and dignity.
I’m so proud of the increasing diversity of voice and representation of women in media (both on-cam and off-cam). It’s amazing how we’re constantly gaining acceptance and pride of our stories and struggles—which help encourage empathy and discourse to reimagine a brighter future for generations to come.
There’s a Swedish proverb about the magic that happens when we openly talk about our troubles and achievements: “Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
When we see the relatable struggles that other women face, our own obstacles seem less insurmountable. And when we hear about people who succeed, it sparks a confidence in us to work toward our own goals. Moreover, these success stories point us back to ourselves—with an encouraging inner voice that asks, “What are my strengths? What more can I achieve? And what achievements have I already made that are worth celebrating?”
Many, for sure.
The National Women’s Month Celebration every March is part of the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Day (IWD). Since 2017, the National Women’s Month in the Philippines has been highlighting the empowerment of women as contributors to and recipients of development.
Find more stories that will inspire you to be the best that you can be.