Sarah Geronimo is Billboard Philippines‘ first-ever Woman of the Year.

At Billboard Philippines Women In Music, the iconic Popstar Royalty was honored with the biggest award of the night. After wowing the crowd with incredible performances of “Dati-Dati” and “Ikot-Ikot”, Geronimo took to stage to talk about her journey through music and what she’s learned after over two decades in the industry.

She began her acceptance speech by thanking Billboard Philippines for uplifting Filipino artists to continue to make art and propel the local music scene, before sharing a philosophy that’s been at the center of her career: “Believe in yourself.”

“Yan ang na instill sa akin ng parents ko bago ako pinalad na manalo bilang grand champion sa Star For A Night, a nationally televised singing competition back in 2003, hosted by the Asia’s songbird, Miss Regine Velasquez-Alcasid,” she says. “Coincidently, yan din ang message na naitanim ni Ms. Reg sa puso at isip ko galing sa isa sa mga speech nya na napanuod ko noon at nadala ko throughout the competition.”

Geronimo continues with her dreams for the industry, hoping that the Philippines not only becomes more open to support and welcome diversity in music but also encourages artists to be their best selves.

Geronimo ends with, “Meron mang timelines and standards para sa ating mga kababaihan o sa ating mga artists but through time I realized that it’s okay to defy them. We all have a voice and we always have a choice, we don’t have to pressure ourselves to fit the mold.”