Saturday, July 20, 2019

Velez: The year women made the headlines


SO DOES does anyone think it was okay for the president to kiss a woman in a middle of his speech? Or for him to tell soldiers to shoot rebel amazonas in the vagina? Are you not entertained? Don’t you get the joke?

It took the feminist movement called #BabaeAko, formed by journalists, artists and other women leaders to stand up and educate us that the presidency is neither entertainment nor enforcement of the misogyny or tyranny that he has beset us much of this year. Extended Martial Law, criminalizing dissent has seen the resistance, with the women who have balanced the force.

One of Babae Ako’s organizers, Inday Espina-Varona has been awarded as outstanding journalist by the Reporters Without Borders for her courage in reporting on human rights. The two women supported by the Babae Ako campaign, former Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and Rappler Editor in Chief Maria Ressa, continue to stand their ground for truth and the common good, notwithstanding the online attacks to damage their credibility. And Ressa gets voted as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

There is irony though that there are women riding on the popularity of the brutish administration.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was already remembered as an Internet meme (that neck brace). But on Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address, she made everyone remember her for stealing the House leadership. As the fourth highest leader of this country, her leadership brings back the same controversies: power grab, pork, patronage politics. Even Duterte’s federalism vision is reworked in her vision of unlimited terms. She is standing tall, and she is not sorry.

The Marcoses would be remembered again for being unrepentant. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos has been convicted of graft and 70 years of prison, yet she posts bail. How this issue affects the senatorial bid of daughter Imee Marcos will be seen in May 2019, but this early on the public has scorned her online campaigns.

Mocha Uson thought her resignation as communications undersecretary would bring her sympathy and support to carry on her advocacy for “Tatay Digong” and also to her party-list candidacy. Perhaps blinded by bots and fake trolls, her resignation was more of a relief from a public fed up by her lack of facts, decency, and respect.

Sara Duterte is surely her father’s daughter, equally lethal online with her barbs against her father’s critics. Despite leading in senatorial surveys, she remains in the local scene consolidating her power by forming the regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

The resistance is also spread in movies and memes. The biographical film Liway brought to light the darkness of Martial Law. The late Senator Miriam Santiago continues to jibe politicos in memes.

It is sure that these forces will continue to clash in 2019. How much can those aligned with the presidency hold? Do we still need to be entertained or to be enlightened? The women in the resistance speak to us, of change and hope, and truth to power.


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