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Ging, the Pinay Peace Maker

Ging Quintos-Deles

"One day at a time"

This is what Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said when asked how she copes with the myriad of responbilities in the government's efforts to end all armed conflicts in the Philippines. Yes indeed, the person on top of the formal track of peace negotiations that have been traditionally dominated by men anywhere in the world, is a gracious peace activist in her 60s, a recognized NGO leader and a happily married woman.

Much has been written about her efforts in the peace and feminist movement. Her work experience spans more than three decades of purposeful , creative, pioneering and a tenacious commitment to social transformation. She is better known by her nickname Ging and conspicuous in her trademark short, straight platinum hair which has inspired many women to stop dying their hair to let their crown turn silver and gray naturally.

Her convictions for peace, good governance and gender equality is as honest as her undyed hair. She didn't accept the unequal world as it is and decided to take steps to explore alternative family lifestyles for development workers. Ging started to ‘walk the talk’ in the early 70s when the Philippines was under dictatorial rule and helping the poor was a risky endeavor. Her family wasn't spared of Marcos' atrocities when her husband, Jojo Deles(,)who was helping urban residents undertake a livelihood project was arrested and detained during Martial Law. Her pregnancy spared her from the arrests and they learned to continue their political work covertly on top of their day jobs.

In the early days of her development work, she took steps to support young professionals who opted to explore alternative careers and lifestyles in social development outside of the corporate sector. Concerned with women NGO workers who would unquestioningly follow their husbands decision for their wives to work outside the home or not, Ging had to bring the ‘women’ question home to their own lives. The NGO meetings, which became avenues for women development workers to informally huddle and talk about their own gender issues at home, gave birth to the national feminist organization, PILIPINA. Ging chaired PILIPINA and was a major coalition builder and convener of women NGOs, namely: Philippine Women’s Research Collective (PWRC), Lakas ng Kababaihan, Legislative Advocates for Women (LAW), and the Women Action Network for Development (WAND).

In international conferences and talks, Ging urged women from the different parts of the world to fight for shared work and family responsibilities in their own homes with their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. She stressed that women’s perspectives must be included in every government policy. Ging also asked for a serious review on the impact of aid and economic policies on women and children. She was a founding member of the Asian Women’s Research and Action Network(AWRAN)which prepared the alternative Asian and Pacific reports presented in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985. She served as an Expert-Member of the UN-CEDAW from 1991-1994 and a Committee Rapporteur for two years.

“When two or three are doing something, the possibilities are there”

Ging Quintos-Deles has brought together stakeholders from the basic sector, church hierarchy, politicians, military officials, communist leaders and Muslim rebels in dialogues and to the negotiation table to find a positive common ground and multi-sectoral solutions to the interlinked issues of poverty, gender oppression and armed conflict.

“God doesn’t give you something that you can’t do”.

Equipped with innate feminine wisdom, clear vision, grace, fortitude and experience in working with the poor, Ging expanded her constituency when she moved from civil society to government as the Lead Convener of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process(OPAPP). Both agencies are responsible for rallying government resources towards poverty reduction and peace.

When Ging was appointed Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, she made sure that all the 14 basic sectors ( women, children, youth, farmers, elderly, persons with disabilities, farmers, fishers, labor and migrant workers, informal sector, cooperatives and NGOs) from different political affiliations were properly consulted . She likewise ensured that the leaders could influence national development and social reform agenda by having regular and direct access to the highest official in government including the President. She enjoyed the trust and confidence of both government and civil society and while deep into anti-poverty work, she was appointed to head the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) and as a member of the government’s negotiating panel with breakaway groups of the communist party.

Ging’s work at the NAPC and OPAPP brought her to the most depressed urban poor sites, remote and hard to reach villages and conflict-affected communities in the country. She fostered dialogues between and among government, civil society, military and people of different religious and ideological backgrounds to understand where they were coming from, overcome prejudices and find common ground to inculcate the culture of peace.

“I don’t think we should stereotype in peace work".

She believes that both women and men should be on the peace table. Women play a big role in peace negotiations because they can break the ice and connect with each other by talking about their children and families. Besides, women’s voices should be heard in decisions to wage peace as they had to bear the dire consequences of war and the difficult healing process.

“I want my children to inherit a world that is better than ours”

Ging will always be a mother and the future of her children has always been a major motivation of her quest for a genuine, just and lasting peace in a democratic society. She was most thankful when the Marcos dictatorship ended in 1986 because her second daughter was only two years old at that time and was able to spend the better part of her childhood growing free from the terrors of an autocratic ruler. It’s no wonder why she is persistent in pursuing the peace process NOW and not later.

Meanwhile Ging is thankful for the gift of being able to enjoy work without knowing how it will end ,the grace of being recharged by power naps during her trips , for watching films on TV during restful weekends and for spending time with her husband and children.

She draws on inspiration from Tita Cory, the icon of democracy, at the end of the day when everything has been said and done, let go and let God do the rest.

Thanks to Ging Deles, the Pinay Peace Maker , for showing us that a genuine, just and lasting peace is not only a possibility but also a reality.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous
new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse
lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the

Ging and me after the interview



usha kc's picture

Dear sister .

Dear sister .
thank you for letting us to know the story and thoughts of Ging. She is truely a woman born for woman's life.


Paulina Lawsin's picture

Yes, Usha. Talking to her is

Yes, Usha. Talking to her is like reading a book. She's one of the early feminists in the Philippines.



malba66's picture

A remarkable life and woman.

A remarkable life and woman. And I love the way you used her hair as a metaphor! beautiful.

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Got the idea now to gather

Got the idea now to gather all of your comments about her and send it to her as my way of thanking her. Yes, remarkable indeed. Regarding the hair, I think we can only do that when we interview a woman. We can admire the dress, the lipstick, accessories, shoes, etc. These are little things that makes us smile.

You are also remarkable Ms. Alba.


I also loved the metaphor you used about her hair. Ging is truly inspirational; it looks like her life story could really make her serve as a role model, especially for young woman. I loved reading this article; like mine, it is about women being active in peacebuilding. After reading your article, I'm inspired to learn more about Ging and peace work being done in the Philipines.

Your writing style is awesome! Keep up the excellent work!

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Thank you Rahel..i'll keep

Thank you Rahel..i'll keep the awesome and excellent description that you gave to my writing coz I'm going to need them when the going gets tough.. I think we should be able to connect our role models with each other so they can exchange notes about their work . We should have a network of women peacebuilders. I hope we have a chance to get together in real to talk about peacework in our respective countries.


Marta Williams's picture

Silver haired Ging

Paulina, I love your comments about Ging's silver hair. How important it is for us to age with grace! I also love the descriptive adjectives you use. They add to the story so quickly, paingting a picture. Great writing my friend. Marta

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Thank you Marta. Your words

Thank you Marta. Your words are always encouraging. Am still asking myself, "How can I be so lucky to deserve you as my mentor?" I wish I'll age with grace, wisdom and generous heart like you.


bennettml's picture

Ging Interview

Thank you for bringing us so close to Ging. I felt I knew her and yet wanted to know her better. The personal elements of her story along with all the accomplishments brought so much feeling, connection and emotion to the piece. I loved it!


Paulina Lawsin's picture

You are welcome , Ms. Bennet.

You are welcome , Ms. Bennet. It's a privilege to tell her story. I thank World Pulse for giving me the confidence to write.



Stella Paul's picture

I loved it

Whether it is at home or in the community, its women who always mediate and bring peace. But in a larger level, women's roles as peace crusaders are rarely recognized. I remember in India once a woman writer offered to mediate the talk between the govt and an insurgent group and everyone said 'she? can she do that?'. I loved that you chose to tell this story which shows that women are great peace makers. Thank you and keep it up!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Welcome home Stella. That is

Welcome home Stella. That is exactly the objective of my story. To make the world know of women deeply involved and on top of the peace process. Who knows there are a lot others out there who's stories are waiting to be shared.


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture


What a remarkable woman! Thank you so much for sharing her story and her incredible accomplishments with us. How did you come to know Ging? You must be lucky! One thing I would suggest is adding in some dates around the creation of the organizations that you speak about, and perhaps some statistics. That will make your story and hers even stronger.

Fantastic job!


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Hi Rachael.. thanks for the

Hi Rachael.. thanks for the suggestions. Numbers and dates, say year, can add more substance to the story. There are more interesting facts about her that I did not include in the story lest I will exceed the no. of words limit.

I came to know Ging through the various women and civil society fora where she was usually a speaker.

Cheers, Rachael

Hummingbird's picture

Amazing story

I was impressed by her determinations and positive perception of life and civil work. I always say that such people are keeping our world balance, the energy of hope for a better future. I call them genuine humans, like you Paulina. Thank for sharing the life of this lovely lady with us.

Take care dear.

A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.


Paulina Lawsin's picture

You are welcome Nisan. The

You are welcome Nisan. The world is not aware of the work women do to heal the earth and revive the earth. As VOF correspondents, let's spread the word by sharing their stories around the world. I'll start sharing one story a day in my FB. Will finish the 30 VOF profiles in one month.

Take care sister.


mrbeckbeck's picture


Great work on this piece Paulina! Ging is an inspiring peace-builder with a long history of activist work. It's amazing to read about her life's journey through your story here. I was especially inspired by her work to bring together so many different groups... no matter our differences, peace requires everyone's participation.

Thanks for introducing us to her!
Warm wishes for a prosperous 2012,

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Paulina Lawsin's picture

THank you Scott . It's an

THank you Scott . It's an honor to interview her and write about her. She has done a lot of work already - on social transformation. I don't think I did justice to her achievements. I will do my best to improve my writing.


MaDube's picture

I always say the law only

I always say the law only codifies the lived realities of peoples because even before UN Resolution 1325 which recognises the importance of women's involvement in peace-building initiatives was brought to life, Ging was already working to achieve this. I am sad to say now she will have to double her efforts to address poverty in light of the recent flooding, which obviously has plunged many families into poverty as they lost all their life's work. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Paulina Lawsin's picture

THanks for thinking of us

THanks for thinking of us MaDube. The generosity extended to the victims of the typhoon Washi from the different parts of the country and the international community is heartwarming. Almost everyone believes that the affected communities need help. Peace building is much more challenging because of dissenting views on the peace process from some famous politicians and the ordinary Filipino.

You are right that the law only codifies the realities of people. Ging has been steadfast on waging peace and social justice long before the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women which requires women participation in decision making at every level and the creation of a government coordinating agency on poverty eradication efforts (National Anti Poverty Commission) .

Wish us a blessed, bountiful and peaceful new year.


Odessa's picture

wonderful story

Thank you for bringing the story of Ging's life work to my/our attention - what a pioneering spirit of social transformation! Enjoyed learning how she fearlessly and lovingly reached into the deepest and farthest edges of society, dismantling gender barriers! Lovely job of balancing Ging's profound leadership achievements with down-to-earth details about her life, family, and quotes. I also liked the way you wove her voice and yours together - the strength of her wisdom shines through your words as you mirror and reflect her to us.
Thank you!

I believe we are all on a journey to understand ourselves and our destiny in the world.
May we walk together in beauty on that path!
- Odessa

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Dear Odessa, Am honored to

Dear Odessa,

Am honored to share the story of Ging with you and the rest of the world. Your comment made me read the story again. How did I weave my voice with that of Ging's? There must be a way of putting it and I don't know how. Am an amateur writer and it took me a while to put the information I gathered from the interview and secondary sources to a compelling story. I'll do better next time.


Greengirl's picture

Dear Pauline

I love your picture with Ging just as much as I loved the story. I probably would never have heard about such a d
great personality and a genuine role model. I love her philosophy too! Thank you for choosing Ging!

Best Wishes,


Paulina Lawsin's picture

Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback Olanike. You described her right. A genuine role model. I have only written a bit about her. She is much more interesting, much more involved in the affairs of the nation in and out of government. She is serious. She is fun. Truly, a woman of substance.

Huggs from the Philippines, sister.


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