Soaring in Times of Crisis (VOF Month 1)
It’s a wonder why Gabriela-Panay continue to be the region’s strong women organization since its inception in 1989 with very limited resources not enough even for allowances of staffs, operational expenses and office rental and the political repression it experiences with the present administration. Compared to other non- government organizations who are not subjected to political repression and have sufficient foreign funding which ends it women’s work when funding ends, for Gabriela-Panay its life continue to soar even in most difficult times.
One typical example of the innovation and resourcefulness of Tita Lucy, the woman activist leading Gabriela-Panay is acquiring an office space free of rental. For a long time, Gabriela-Panay is renting an office and it was always a headache everytime rental increases and no financial support coming in. But today, there’s no more headache for Tita Lucy and her group, They are now occupying a space in the multi-purpose building of Barangay Rizal, Lapaz, Iloilo City offered to them by the barangay officials whom they are working very closely.
It offers great benefits to them and to the women in the communities facilitating their everyday work during these difficult times of economic crisis. First, it is community-based and is accessible to all women members and staff which defrayed them of their transportation expenses. Connection with the communities they are organizing made it very easy for them. Anytime, women needing their help can come to their office conveniently without the hassle of transportation expenses, so also with their women leaders. Second, it is free of rental. A big helped to the organization in terms of financial availability and sustainability. Gabriela-Panay seldom receives support of funds from donors because of its critic to government policies and they have to depend on local support and volunteer works of committed activists. Third is security. With the intensified political repression among progressive organizations, there was an alarming surveillance from suspected military civilian intelligence among Gabriela members. Their previous office was heavily monitored and Tita Lucy’s work was affected especially when there was need to work overtime in the office. They were forced not to work overnight. But now, they can work without time limitation in the office especially when there is an urgent needed activities. The people in the community provide information as to unfamiliar faces monitoring their activities at the office. The barangay civilian security forces also help in securing the office during nighttime.
All these benefits are gained through long process of hard work organizing in the community and establishing good relationship with the local residence and authorities. Tita Lucy aside from being a resident of the place, the organization had been responsible for facilitating relocations sites for evicted residents, distributing relief assistance in times of calamities and most of all the untiring dedication of Tita Lucy in helping women in the community at all aspects of women’s and community lives.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.