She Voices

Multiple voices

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At the 15th year anniversary of Cebu Daily News last February 8, I did not realize it has been that long since I became part of it when it started in 1998 at a small but cozy office in Escario Street to a bigger, more spacious and comfortable building at the North Reclamation Area.

Originally, there were three of us alternating in writing our columns, Sofia Aliño Logarta, Fe Naputo-Reyes, and myself but Fe begged off when her schedule was tied up with administrative work as the registrar of UP Cebu College. In the beginning, our column was entitled Voices but was changed to She Voices considering the very fast development of the women’s movement in the country and in Cebu after the Beijing Conference in 1995.

It was an offshoot of my studies of Philippine Feminist Leadership in the mid-1990’s and my involvement in women advocacy groups. In addition, CDN’s birth was also the year of the centennial of the Philippine revolution which ushered in the interest in local history and culture and Cebu was immersed in the world of culture and heritage. The first decade of the new millennium was the height of the movement on cultural heritage awareness, research, and community activities changing the cultural landscape of Cebu. Women, history, cultural heritage became the recurring topics in my columns because of my strong involvements in groups and their activities related to these three subjects.

In most cases, I tried to integrate women and history or women and cultural heritage or more so on history and cultural heritage just to drive the point that the women’s issue cannot be ignored and that history and heritage are not boring. The plan of the Legal Alternative for Women Center, Inc. (founded two years earlier) to write a book on its history is a very timely project because it will document what women are doing to empower women victims of abuse in various ways from legal, psychosocial to spiritual formation, livelihood and life skills.

She Voices multiplied as evidenced in the global campaign to End All Forms of Violence Against Woman last February 14, a most fitting way to celebrate the Day of Love. Hundreds of women from all sectors and some male supporters joined One Billion Rising at the Ayala Terraces – dancing to break and strike violence against women, with messages of solidarity from the different convenors and offices of the local government. An interesting message was that given by Boy Sarmago of the group Men Opposed to Violence Against Women.

After he declared the group’s support for women, he shared some tips involving men in the women’s cause. He suggests that there be effective methods of how to involve men and boys in dealing with women’s concerns. Men should not be looked at as culprits, offenders, abusers but as people who need help. There should be gender sensitization of men through training or seminars. Involve men as participants in research on VAW.

LGUs and civil society should join hands in pursuing women concerns. One Billion Rising only shows the fruits of the efforts of a few brave women who initiated the coming out of women from all walks of life, from different religious denominations, from different ages, from different cultures to declare and fight for their rights and of the marginalized. From silence to small voices to the roaring billion to end all forms of violence against women! Dance has always been a part of our culture, from the days of the babaylanes who danced to the ancient gods in supplication, to the sinulog where we dance our prayers, and now we dance to put an end to human degradation.

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The passing away of Lolong, the world’s largest saltwater crocodile, reminds us of our neglect of animal wildlife and the urgent need to have more people trained in the care and preservation of endangered animals and the importance of local governments to take care of their community’s resources. Shouldn’t this be also added to the agenda for our aspiring politicians?

The announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation has revived interest in Church history. I instantly recalled my college class in Church History under Sister Daniello, ICM (Sister Christiane Vandenbogaert) who discussed the history and development of the Catholic Church in a very comprehensive manner. She introduced us to modern theologians and philosophers particularly Teilhard de Chardin in her theology and philosophy classes.

I still remember her mentioning Josef Ratzinger, who was not a cardinal then, as one of the leading conservative and influential theologians. She thoroughly explained the social issues of the times and how the church was addressing them. We were familiar with the encyclicals and understood their role. Church History complemented by the class in European History under the mentorship of Dr. Lourdes R. Quisumbing were strong influences in my decision to major in History and I am very grateful to them.

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