Hijab, lipstick donations for evacuees
In times of despair, a clean hijab or a nice shade of lipstick—coupled with basic human kindness — can be one’s source of hope and courage.
Former Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman came away with this realization after she and former Education Secretary Armin Luistro visited one of the towns in Lanao del Sur province, where she and her colleagues distributed nearly a thousand hijabs to Maranao women who fled the fighting in Marawi City.
Luistro, for his part, promised the Maranao teachers he met that he would launch another “Lipstick Campaign,” drawing inspiration from a similar but little known project he spearheaded for public school teachers in Leyte province in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) when he was education secretary.
Soliman and Luistro were members of the Cabinet of then President Benigno Aquino III.
In their own private capacities now, the two, along with other former officials of the Aquino administration, are helping the evacuees cope with the situation even in little ways they could.
Soliman and former peace adviser Teresita “Ging” Deles are active members of the nearly four-decade-old women’s group Pilipina, which organized the “Hijab for Solidarity and Peace” project with other organizations two weeks ago.
They asked for donations of scarves of any color and size that the Muslim women in the evacuation centers could use as their hijabs.
Something nice to wear
“Hijabs are, first, for modesty and protection, and second, [they are] also for the end of Ramadan. They have to have something nice to wear because the Maranaos really dress up for it. It is like Christmas or Easter Sunday in the Christian faith,” Soliman told the Inquirer.
After all, the Hijab for Solidarity and Peace is “a campaign to show sisterhood and solidarity that one of the things we can share with them is all the scarves that we have,” Soliman said.
“And at least they will have one clean scarf at the end of Ramadan,” she added.
Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Monday. Hijabs are an important part of the Muslim women’s faith.
As fighting between government troops and terrorists intensified in Marawi, many Maranao women escaped with few belongings, some with only the clothes on their back.
It only took two weeks for the Manila-based groups to solicit almost a thousand hijabs and around 80 malongs, according to Soliman.
These were distributed by the groups, together with colleagues from the development nongovernment (NGO) organization Al-Mujibillah and the Task Force Ranao Rescue Team, in Saguiaran town in Lanao del Sur.
Luistro, now the head of the Philippine Business for Social Progress, raised P6 million from corporations and individuals in less than 10 days to purchase essentials for home-based evacuees and their hosts.
As the fighting reached its fourth week, keeping a stable supply of food and other provisions was a challenge, Soliman said.
With the donation, Soliman said Luistro’s group was able to buy 4,000 pails, each containing a pot, frying pan, six plates, six glasses, mat, blanket, and mosquito net—and hijabs. The pails cost P1,000 each.
Of these, 3,000 were handed out to the evacuees, and the rest to Marawi’s public school teachers.
“Usually, teachers are very talkative and happy but Brother Armin said when he met these teachers from Marawi, they were quiet. The feeling was very heavy and he just felt the gloom. And part of the gloom was the question about how and where they were going back,” Soliman said.
Soliman said the former education secretary recalled a story about a public school principal whom he met in Palo, Leyte, after Yolanda ravaged the province in November 2013.
He said he noticed that despite doing her task of locating teachers and students, as well as fixing the school, the principal wore lipstick.
Fulfilling a promise
Luistro asked the principal about it, and he recalled her saying that putting on lipstick meant she was ready to go back to work.
He promised the Marawi teachers he would return with lipstick.
“They were very happy, and even the NGO workers we were with said they also wanted powder so that their faces won’t be shiny while they are attending to the needs of their fellow evacuees,” Soliman said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.