Monday, November 13, 2023


Christine Start presents the Preface to


ROOTED IN PRACTICE: PINAYS IN LAW edited by Justine Villanueva

(Sawaga River Press in collaboration with PINAY POWERHOUSE, 2022)


To transcend, which means to go beyond the limit, also means to include. To be a Pinay Powerhouse includes a self-identification process, one which may take course over a lifetime or in the quickness of one full breath or perhaps something in between. As part of its process, there is a reminder to remember: to root into the wholeness of our being. The word “remember” implies that a thing exists in the memory, not in the moment. The “re” word-forming element meaning “back to the original place” or “again, anew, once more.”And “member” meaning “a component part of any aggregate or whole, constituent part of a complex structure;” “body part or organ;” or in common use, “one of the limbs or extremities, especially the sex organ.”2  So, to remember is to return to be a part of, to belong in origin. To be a Pinay Powerhouse is to be rooted in our identity, our wholeness as a Pinay, as a sisterhood, as a collective, as kapwa. 

Often this self-identification process requires the reminder of one’s value by one or more sisters in law.Most certainly, it is through one’s attendance at a Pinay Powerhouse conference or circle, that one can remember that they do in fact belong—that they are a part of the collective. And most importantly, that they can and should exist exactly as they are while loving exactly who they are becoming. When a Pinay Powerhouse consciously takes the time and space to breathe for their self, while in circle with their kapwa, they call forth a source with a mighty force to be reckoned with. For the power, in Powerhouse, comes from taking refuge in the warm embrace of the Pinay sisterhood. Bone to muscle to skin, a Pinay remembers that the blood of their ancestors runs through their veins. It is here, in the image of our roots interconnected and intertwined with one another that a Pinay can dare to reign, root to rise, shine on, demand Pinays now, and lift as we climb.

Pinay, Filipina, Filipinx-American. Lawyer, leader, advocate. Mother, daughter, sister. Lola, tita, pamangkin. Teacher, student, explorer. Activist, negotiator, mediator. Entrepreneur, writer, policymaker. Friend, ally, comrade. Survivor, warrior, storyteller. Lover, dreamer, healer. Healing, gender-nonconforming, evolving. Feeling, being, knowing. Caring, daring, and transcending. The Pinay Powerhouse courageously explores, embraces, and embodies the boundless range of our cultural, professional, socio-political, and personal identities. The Pinay Powerhouse is home when they remember the wholeness of who they are and with whom they are a part of. And as one returns, one learns to not shy away from it, but to lead from the womb, to ground down and carry our roots, our lineage, and our learnings with us as we move forward in solidarity as Pinays in law rooted in practice. 

—Christine Start
Pinay Powerhouse co-founder 


3. Kapwa, as defined by the father of modern Filipino psychology, Virgilio Enriquez, means “shared identity,” “equality,” and “being with others.”
4. The term “sister in law” was coined by Jhanice Domingo, NFALA’s First Pinay President.
5. Dare to Reign, Root to Rise, Shine On, Pinays Now, and Lift As We Climb are the last five conference themes from 2017-2022. 

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