LAST September 17, a lucky number of us were invited to a forum titled “Women in Defense of Democracy,” held at the Strawberry Valley Hotel in Trinidad. The forum, convened to discuss current issues including misogyny in government, was spearheaded by women leaders Edna Tabanda, Louee Padilla, and Mary Jane Fuyos. They invited Ging Deles to be keynote speaker. Deles is the former head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (Opapp) and is of the women’s NGO called PILIPINA, as are aforementioned conveners.
I found the former Opapp Secretary’s lecture competent and inspiring. I especially admire how she handled Feminism and its phases academically: as an international movement, as a national movement in the Philippines, and as a personal cause, injecting her personal involvement in it. I came away greatly appreciating the work of PILIPINA in furthering women’s concerns and rights locally and globally.
On the extreme other hand, and still speaking of women and current issues, where the Duterte administration is on a “Build, Build, Build” mode, we cannot help but note that said administration is simply following in the footsteps of the woman named Imelda, she who is spoken of as having had an “edifice complex,” so immersed was she in building, building, building.
She built the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex to host the CCP itself, the Philippine International Convention Center, the Manila International Film Center, the Coconut Palace, among others. She built the Philippine Heart Center, the National Kidney and Transplant Center, the Philippine Lung Center. The list goes on and on. To include, in Baguio, the Maharlika Livelihood Center and the once world-class, once Igorot -- architecturally and culturally -- icon Baguio Convention Center (BCC). Imelda also ordered the planting of a zillion pine trees to surround the BCC, though they could not be full grown in time for its inauguration. Those trees now form a vital forest.
The Baguio Convention Center was built to host the world championship match between chess grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi in 1978, and has gone on to host many a convention, graduation, gathering since then. Sadly, the BCC has also since deteriorated into a big, rundown building with this and that, with little rhyme or reason or “world-classness.”
At the democracy forum last Sunday, I was asked to give a day’s end reflection. It was this. In the movie The Bodyguard, there is this scene where the hero and the heroine are dancing in a diner. A crash is heard, and the hero, the bodyguard, starts, reacting to the sound with concern – going into work mode. He has to keep the heroine safe from whatever, to protect her. She notes this, and stays him with the line: “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.” This causes him some consternation. The heroine repeats: “I’ll protect you.”
Yes, some days it’s the women who are the protectors, not just as in the scene described, but also as in we must protect democracy and all the gains of the Feminist movements we thankfully now live by. We can even say that it’s actually all days that we are protectors, because we have too to protect the men from themselves, oh yes. Ask Imelda. Ask Ging. On at least that one lattermost point, methinks they will, as women, agree.
To close, a grateful shoutout to the beautiful women at the Baguio Senior Citizens’ Center where you can get your Senior Card in a matter of minutes, as long as the required documents are with you. Thank you, ladies, for the good work you do!