Amazing Girl Highlight: Vallerie, Chess Extraordinare

Petra Stumpf, a 26-year-old Peace Corp Volunteer working in the Philippines, and hailing from Jonesboro, Georgia, came across GENaustin while searching for youth empowerment materials to inform her work. Her primary project is teaching English, but she also conducts interactive empowerment seminars for youth about everything from sexual health and relationships to gender roles and discrimination. When she heard that GENaustin was looking to tell the stories of extraordinary girls, she knew just the girl: Vallerie Joyia Demavibas, a 15 years old chess player who, according to Petra, “pours her heart and soul into the game”:


Hello, my name is Vallerie Joyia Demavibas, I am 15 years old and I live in Barangay Tagpait, Aborlan, Palawan, Philppines. When I was 12 years old in grade 5, I tried playing chess for the first time because for me, this game is fun and interesting! In The Philippines, chess is a sport, it’s also very popular in Japan and Korea- many Chess Masters are from there. Some day I want to be a Chess Master. I’m thankful because my brother taught me how to play this game. Actually, I have three brothers named Rainyel, Rodel, and Renzen. They are all chess players and I’m proud to be in their family. I also have one sister, Kate Andrea, who plays Taekwondo in college. I prefer chess to taekwondo because chess is not violent and I won’t get hurt!

When I play chess, my whole mind is focused on the game and my opponent so everything else, all my problems, disappear for a little while. Chess allows me to show my feelings in a game environment because usually I’m a shy person. For me, chess is my life! Everyday I play about 5-7 games! None of my friends enjoy chess like I do, it’s not such a popular game here, but I’m not discouraged, I just play with my brothers. Recently, I competed in a Provincial Meet here on my island and won second place. I encourage all the readers to be good students, positive thinkers, and to try chess!


Vallerie’s love of and success at chess is even more impressive considering that, of the 1000 most successful chess players in the world, only 22 are women.  Way to break down barriers for girls! Go Vallerie (and Petra)!


Do you know a girl who’s doing something amazing (in Austin, or anywhere in the world?) Email and tell me about it!



Vanessa Wright