Editor’s Note: This article is part of “Spotlight,” a recurring series featuring CNMI personalities. To suggest a person to feature in this section, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women on the Rise, a women empowerment organization based in South San Francisco in California, recently honored a Saipan native as its Woman of the Year. Her name, Asia Hilario.
Hilario is a lifestyle blogger advocating women empowerment, mental health, and wellness. She is a crisis counselor for CrisisTextLine, and a brand ambassador for Kuros, an organization whose mission is to enhance the safety and mobility of women around the world.
Just last Sept. 14, Hilario was recognized by one of South San Francisco Mayor Karyl Matsumoto’s pet project organizations, South San Francisco’s Women’s Conference: Empower, Elevate, Enrich.
“I believe that by lifting up other women, an entire community, and entire society can elevate,” Hilario said. “Women are powerful beings, who can do incredible things, and by empowering them (giving them resources, offering support, encouraging them, educating them, giving them a voice) we can change the world.”
Currently living in San Jose, California, Hilario was born and raised on Saipan, in Kagman II, and is the daughter of Robert Hilario and Lucille Camacho Hilario. She is also a proud granddaughter of Luis Salas Camacho (familian Mang) and Fermina Mendiola Camacho.
Hilario is also trying to break the negative stigma around mental health. She believes therapy is life-changing, and wants people to not be afraid of it.
“I’m trying to de-stigmatize seeking [mental] help for those who need it. The more we talk about mental health, the braver people will be to not only seek help, but to speak about it as well. The biggest struggle I’ve had in the past was feeling like I was alone in my struggles. I want to use my voice to make sure that no one else feels that they’re alone in their struggles,” she said.
Hilario also remembers an instance when a woman reached out to her and said that reading her blog made the woman brave enough to go to a psychiatrist and, after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, is getting help through therapy.
“This brought me to tears because not only did I help her personally, I know I helped her friends, her boyfriend, her loved ones, and her future family for generations to come,” Hilario said. “When people take care of their mental health, their entire life changes for the better.”
The Saipan-born woman of the year also had just created an organization called “South Bay Content Creators,” which is a platform where female bloggers, content creators, and influencers can help each other out in content creation.
The organization is set to launch by the end of October in Palo Alto, in California. Aside from this, Hilario will also be speaker at the SpeakLife Women’s Conference, a mental health conference, this October.
Aside from her advocacies, Hilario has also raised money to provide clean drinking water to impoverished countries, to help the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, as well as to send relief to Saipan after Super Typhoon Yutu.
With her heart on Saipan, Hilario’s wish is to make Saipan proud. “I want to put the CNMI on the map. I want to make my people proud, and everything I do is for my people! I love the CNMI and I couldn’t be prouder that they named a Saipan-native woman of the year.”
Follow Hilario and support her advocacies through her blog, islahoney.com.