DAYS IN NOVEMBER: A SEASON WORTH REMEMBERING
Trumpeting the voices of the marginalized Filipino women and children all across America is an experience I will cherish in my lifetime. The untiring days and nights of my journey in this month of November- the season of autumn painted in me colorful shades of red, green, gold, brown, yellow, white and silver.
My November 4-20 speaking tour as an award winning World Pulse Voice of the Future correspondent together with my fellow correspondent awardees Sunita of Nepal and Jacqueline of Bolivia sparked another new beginning and celebration in my continuous search for a meaningful life.
A life that is committed to uplift our downtrodden dignity by raising our voices in this period of our history as a Filipino people; a life meant for building a lasting relationship with women and men for world peace, freedom and justice.
In my journey- the wonderful women and men, the young girls and boys I met became dear to me, giving me more wings to fly and soars the highest heights in our struggle for peace and freedom. The tears that I shed created rainbows that brighten my days and created ripples and waves of inspirations for someone to partake in a powerful social change movement for women’s empowerment.
The whispers of love and encouragement of the World Pulse community and our partners are like bells that keep ringing every morning as I wake up and songs that lull me to sleep after a tiring day. The hand printed beautiful words written for me lifts my spirit high and freshen me to take extra miles. The sweet voices calling my name everyday seems an endless melody of freedom to my ears. The hugs and dances of congratulations are still in my heart that keeps me in motion in the coldness of the autumn breeze.
November 14, 2009: My Gift of a Lifetime
It was dawn of November 14, 2009 when I received my gift of a lifetime – the World Pulse Voices of the Future award as citizen’s journalist. I was so deliriously happy but still I couldn’t yet fully believe that I made myself one of the best writers in the group and gained a name as international journalist.
Even until now, I find it hard to believe but I have to believe that this is real. I really don’t know why. Maybe because I always thought that I am not capable of being one and it’s only my fascination with writers and journalists that I am capable of.
I know I have still so much to learn in believing in myself and gaining that much needed confidence of voicing out through printed words of meanings and symbols. But, I know that I have still so much gift to give to the many voiceless women and children of today’s generation and of the future. Thus, I have to believe in my self and trust all the women and men around me that I am what I am today and am capable of what I’ll be in the future- a global voice of the silenced and struggling Filipino women and children of today and tomorrow.
November 25, 2010: A Day to Celebrate and Commemorate.
A friend told me that this is a big celebration here in US bigger than Christmas Day because it rise above religions beliefs, race, gender, political beliefs and other issues that separate humanity. This is a very special day, a universal day that unites families and people to celebrate and give thanks for life and its blessings.
I celebrated my first Thanksgiving Day, a snowy day here in Seattle and it was a day filled with joy and friendship among Filipino friends gathered together. For the first time, I tasted the roasted turkey (which we seldom have in the Philippines) with cranberry sauce and yam. We had wines and cakes and never-ending stories and jokes. A fun day in a life of a Filipino migrant working hard to save his/her family from poverty back there in the Philippines but filled with longing for home.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:
Amid the Thanksgiving Day celebration, I joined the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This is perhaps a day not being commemorated by everybody but observed by women’s activist all over the globe since 1980. In the Philippines, women activist marched to the streets calling for the release of 43 health workers detainees, mostly women and justice for the victims of Ampatuan massacre.
In December 1999, the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 54/134 declaring November 25th the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date commemorates the brutal assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of its dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1960.
I was not yet born during those times but the history and realities of such brutalities against women and children continue up to the present especially in my homeland.
November 23, 2009: The Brutal Massacre in our Country’s Modern History
It was in November 23, 2009 under the undeclared dictatorship and fascist rule of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when 57 people (22 were women and 37 journalists) were mercilessly massacred by the powerful Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province. The women victims were believed to be massacred twice - their lives were brutally taken and were sexual abused till there last breath and buried in shallow graves.
The Ampatuan Massacre marks one of the darkest hours in the history of Philippine politics and world journalism. Today, a year after- justice is not yet served. Out of 196 suspects, 115 remain at large and 81 were arrested. But, not even one is convicted. The Filipino people feels that the wheels of justice grinds very slow even under the new president who promised to stop human rights violations and will render justice to all victims.
On this day, I honor the death of my two colleagues Atty. Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Atty. Cynthia Oquendo, who were among the 57 victims of the gruesome killings. Another woman friend, I honor was a human right activist Luisa Posa Dominado, who remains missing for more than two years now. I will continue to trumpet their voices and all the voices of my many fallen colleagues rising from the deepest corner of the earth to the highest heavens of remembering and claiming justice.
November 27, 2009: My Maiden Frontline Story
As journalist, happiness is when your articles are being published and read by many readers. It was November 26 that Jensina, our World Pulse founder and dynamic leader inspired me to write a frontline story about the Ampatuan massacre. Unbelievably, I was able to write in less than twenty four hours and got it published in World Pulse on-line magazine and other international media networks such Feminist Peace Network, Vital Voice Blog and Huffington Post.
My article was then picked up by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation through World Pulse and got me interviewed on line. It was such a joy of successfully bringing our loud cry for justice to the world. I had the first taste of joy for a neophyte journalist like me who never believed that I can be an international journalist.
November 27, 2007: Courage and Fear
This was three years ago, the day when I was confronted in reality by my deepest fear of joining the long statistics of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances in our country. It was early morning of November 27, 2007 when my husband woke me up saying that several men surrounded our house and was waiting at all exit points.
I was terribly scared how to handle the situation, all I had in mind is how to go out safely. I was shaking of fear and my fingers found it hard to dial and send messages to colleagues in finding ways to help me out of the house.
Luckily, my husband was there. He asked the help of local government officials to send security escort for my protection. Together with my two friend activists, we were given a room to stay for two nights.
Since that time on, my life is like a fugitive looking for safe places to continue my advocacy for women’s rights for peace and justice. Tears filled my eyes , whenever I watch my daughter sleeping soundly in the middle of the night; whenever I hear the voice of my son calling my name ; whenever my husband hold my hands, whenever my sister look at me, I just feel so scared of what will become of them when I’ll not be around anymore.
But I have to brave my self; rise above my fears – because I believe courage will make us safe – the collective courage to survive and fight to end violence and cruelties of powers that be in our country.
International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA): A Powerful Solution
I long for the day when violence, cruelties and poverty will come to an end. I long for the day when I will not feel the fear of political persecution. I long for the day for my daughter’s safety and for all the mothers and daughters of the world from all forms of violence. I long for the day when there will be no orphans and widows due to imperialist war and terrorism. I long for the day when we have to stop fighting for our rights as women and girls but to enjoy our God-given rights for food, security, education, health, shelter, etc.
My passion to make this longing a reality is I believe also a passion for every woman who suffered the most cruelties inflicted on her by unjust social and political structures in her own time and space. Thus, I call everyone to join hands together and let our words flow like rivers creating unstoppable power for change in the halls of US Congress and Senate. Let the power of the web 2.0 and our women power shake the US corridors and pillars of powers in transforming violence to peace and justice.
Let us support IVAWA to make it as a landmark in US legislations putting into halt the never ending stories of violence and cruelties against women and children all over the world. Send them our letters loudly saying NO to Violence Against Women!