By Vicky Arnaiz

TACLOBAN CITY– There was a time when Filipina women who worked abroad were looked down because they worked only as nannies, caregivers, and cleaners.  But not anymore in the last decades, when Filipinas shine as nurses, investment bankers, leaders in their fields of endeavor and their outstanding contributions to society.

One of them is Bernadette Mondejar-Schuelter, a Tacloban native now based in Europe, who has been named as one of this year’s most Influential Filipina women.

Bernadette Mondejar-Schuelter
Dr. Bernadette M. Schuelter with husband Richard

In a high-power summit held last month at Shangrila Mactan, Cebu organized by the Female Women’s Network (FWN), a non-profit organization based in California, USA, Bernadette was among those recognized.

The summit was to recognize the Filipinas women who have the fire, passion, and excellence and gave inspiration to people around the world.  Awardees came from the USA, Europe, and Asia.

The highlight of the summit was the gala awards ceremony recognizing the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in 2016 (Global FWN 100) among them the 44-year old Bernadette.

Bernadette Mondejar-Schuelter is married to Richard Schuelter and is the daughter of power couple Jose Rene and Lucita Dublas Mondejar of JE Mondejar Foundation College in Tacloban.

In the same awards, Vice President Leni Robredo was named by FWN as the “Most Influential Filipina of the World” for her action-oriented approach to public service and advocacy in serving the most vulnerable communities in her province and the country.

These Filipinas were recognized because they made a difference through their leadership and influence in their respective fields and communities globally creating a change in the world of Filipinas in diaspora.

The beautiful plaque of Global 100

”It is a great honor to be awarded and join this exceptional group of global Filipina women. The award is my motivation to continue to serve as a role model for the younger generation of Filipina movers and shakers,” said Schuelter.

At present she is based in Casteau, Belgium working as principal of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) American School at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for two years now.

Shape Elementary School is under the Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is one of the 181 schools in 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

SHAPE is the biggest of the 13 international schools in the NATO installation in Casteau, Belgium. There are 600 students enrolled in the school with the large percentage of Americans and the others are students from 28 NATO member countries and 22 partnerships for peace nations.

Aside from her present position, she is recognized by the FWN, Inc. as she also served with excellence as assistant principal at CDR William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School in Guam; and worked as a teacher in Korea and Japan.

Before she left the country and joined her husband, She was school administrator of the family-owned JE Mondejar Computer College (now the JE Mondejar Foundation College) in Tacloban City.

She was named as Korea District Teacher of the Year in 2012 and Awardee of the Scroll of Appreciation from US Forces Korea General Walter Sharp in 2010.

Schlueter was nominated under the Builders category by Leonor S. Vintervoll, founder of Philippine Women’s Organization Resource Center based in Oslo, Norway. Vintervoll was a Global FWN Awardee in 2015.

Dr. Bernadette-Mondejar Schuelter with fellow Global 100 awardees

BUILDERS are those who have demonstrated exceptional business impact at a large workplace environment; displaying a deep passion for a cause through collaborative initiatives or alliances with corporations or nonprofit organizations on behalf of her own organization; demonstrates high potential and skill with a measurable result.

Among the many worthy projects of the FWN is the Filipina Leadership Global Summit that serves a platform for discussions, learning and sharing strategies among members.

This year’s theme is “Influence, Accelerate, Action.”

The popular “Pinay Speed Femtoring” with selected 100 young Filipina professionals met and learned from the Global FWN100 awardees.  Topics included STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Economic Empowerment, Violence Against Women and Entrepreneurship Breakthroughs.

Female Women Network is chaired by Marily Mondejar also counts Amparito Lhuillier of the Amparito Llamas Lhuillier Education Foundation as awardee this year under the Founders and Pioneers category. ABS-CBN CEO of Broadcast Cory V. Vidanes and ABS-CBN CEO of Star Creatives Malou N. Santos as awardees.

In an interview, Bernadette said, the best trait she shared with her colleagues and students is the Bayanihan spirit, showing them strength in unity.

“Working together or collaboration is a 21st-century skill that we as a pilot school are developing in students as lifelong habits,” she said.

“I am proud of my Filipino heritage. Resilience and creativity are Filipino traits that gave me the edge to succeed in an international environment. I am completely comfortable in being uncomfortable. I look at challenges and goals as a way to grow and be better both as a person and as a professional educator,” she further said.

When not busy as an educator, Bernadette runs in marathons around the globe.  This year she made it in Helsinki City; Marathon de Carcassonne France; EDP Rock & Roll Madrid, Spain; ING Night Marathon in Luxembourg, Germany, and Copenhagen Marathon.

On her recent visit to the Philippines last July, she won second place both in the 3rd Rice Terraces Marathon in Banaue and the TransCebu Ultramarathon.

“I am hooked when my husband introduced me to long distance running and after I joined the Tokyo Marathon in 2009.  Since then there’s no turning back. I’ve just kept at it because running is a stress reliever for me. There is dedication and pain involved in running but with the ultra marathons, it becomes an issue of mental tenacity,” Bernadette said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicky is a freelance journalist writing mainly at Leyte Samar Daily Express, Eastern Visayas Mail, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine News Agency.