Elizabeth Joy S. Quijano, a graduate of Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC), won the title of Women of the Future (Southeast Asia) in the Arts and Culture category on November 23, 2022, in Singapore. 

After graduating with a BA in Mass Communication in 2014, Quijano said it was always her goal to bring honor to her alma mater. 

“I am a proud alumna of the Holy Cross of Davao College. Holy Cross [of Davao College] has trained me a lot. Dako jud kaayo akong utang na loob sa Holy Cross [of Davao College] sa training, sa unsa man akong na abot karun (I am a proud alumna of the Holy Cross of Davao College. Holy Cross of Davao College has trained me a lot. I have a debt of gratitude to the Holy Cross of Davao College from its training and on what I have achieved now),” Quijano said.

Quijano shares her award to the Blaan Tribe, to the mothers, and wives, as she wants them to be inspired to write their stories.

The lessons of perseverance and dedication she learned at HCDC, she said, are directly responsible for her success today. 

“You have to be strong. You have to stand for what is right,” Quijano said on becoming a writer and researcher.

Quijano, a Blaan-Ibaloy lumad, has long been a voice for indigenous peoples and women’s rights, even before she won the award. 

“What I do is naga-conduct ko’g mga workshop, writeshop sa mga IP students nako run. Ginatudluan nako sila na you should write, dapat kabalo mo musulat, kabalo mo mu-research, about sa sarili namong culture (What I do is I conduct workshops and writeshops to my current IP students. I teach them that they must write, they must know how to write, know how to research, about themselves and our own culture),” she added.

Among the people competing with Quijano were Singapore’s Si En Tan, Lee Ching Ho and Cheyenne Tan of Malaysia, and Vietnam’s Anh Khong. The Women of the Future award is supported and recognized by the Government of the United Kingdom. 

Some of her notable works appear in World Literature Today, Words Without Borders, UP Mindanao Benwa Journal, Shenandoah Literary Magazine, and Ulirat: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines.

Because of Quijano’s determination, she is the first Blaan-Ibaloy woman to publish a book, entitled “Dili Pwede Mogawas ug Ubang Mga Sugilanon (Can’t Go Out and Other Stories)”. It includes ten stories from Matanao, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur and one story (Pikpik) set in Malita, Davao Occidental.

Quijano now works as a lecturer and public speaker, inspiring audiences to speak up for the voiceless and join the fight against misinformation. She always remembers where she came from and how she got where she is today, bringing the Holy Crossian spirit with her and drawing strength from it.