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    Women Are Stronger Together

    Message at the One Billion Rising 2018: Solidarity

    Legazpi, Albay

    delivered on 23 March 2018

    I’m very happy to be in the company of such a beautiful crowd. Bihira magtiripon an mga kababaihan na an pigse-selebrar an satuyang pagiging babae. As we celebrate strong and powerful women in our lives and in our community — kaya mabalos na maray sa pagimbitar sako sa indong One Billion Rising. Salamat na marhay sa pagimbita.

    Isi nindo, amay-amay ako inimbitaran ni Jasmin. Garo last year pa nag-imbita, kaya dai pwedeng maka-dai ta haluyon nang maray. Women empowerment is a subject that is so dear and close to my heart. I know each and every one of you here, mga kababaihan, na kita, pwera sa satuya, each one of you here, I’m sure, has someone, a woman you look up to during difficult times — your mother, your sister, your bestfriend — and today is an opportunity to celebrate them and their stories. Aru-atchan, maduman kami ni Mayor sa Tabaco para sa Istorya ng Pag-asa – also, celebrating the stories of ordinary people with various struggles but have emerged triumphant.

    Each of these stories is a story of triumph, each one an embodiment of love and light during these extraordinary times. Arog baga kita kayan, pag nadidipisilan na, pag minsan gusto na mag-give up, pero bigla kitang may maiisip na, “kaya ngani kaidto, ano man ta dai ko makaya?” Strong women empower others to be strong as well, iyo? Today’s gathering is proof of that. Because when women come together, determined to be a force for good, it makes all the difference. So, sa gabos pong mga kababaihan, saka siguro may lalake man, behind the One Billion Rising movement, thank you for providing a platform for women everywhere. Yours is the kind of movement that makes today the greatest time to be a woman.

    Pirming sinasabi na ang Pilipinas we are better off as far as gender equality is concerned compared to our neighbors. Pero last year, number seven kita. Seven sa global gender report. Kita ang number one sa ASEAN, daraog ta pa si ibang mga progressive na mga countries. Kan 2016 ito. But sadly, kan 2017, we slid three notches down. Tenth na lang kita. Dati seventh kita sa pinakahalangkaw, ngunyan tenth na lang kita. Pero ano ang dahilan ta nag-slide kita ning tenth? May igwang findings that there is a worsening performance on wage equality.

    Ano ang gustong sabihon kaiyan? Ang findings: only 50% of Filipino women today have access to jobs, contrary to more than 80% of our men in our workforce. In ASEAN, there is a large number of educated women, mostly unemployed. And digdiyo satuya, women are also one of the most vulnerable sectors of society accounting for 11.2 million of our poor. Women also continue to face detriment and discrimination. Violence Against Women continue to be part of so many Filipinas’ lives.

    In social media — nakaka-grabe ang social media, ano, na nagkaigwang panibagong platform na mag-commit ning abuse against women. In social media, women and girls have become targets of sexual harrassment and received threats of physical harm. Siguro, each one of us here na nasa Facebook, nakahiling na. Ako may personal na ako dyan. Ako garo ang saro sa mga kababaihan na most… Ang masakit dyan, even my daughters have been on the receiving end of such vicious acts online. One time na medyo natakot ako ta dawa aram kong trolls ang may gibo, may nahiling akong ritrato kan si tulo kong aki na pig the-threaten nin rape. Dawa kung siisay man na magurang ma-react.

    In the end, despite all this discrimination, women still exude so much light and love. Although there have been so many recent events that attack and undermine our capabilities, women today have found the strength to fight, not only for themselves, but for women who can’t. Sa pulitika ta sana, ano pang panlaban ngunyan? Si mga babaye. Yaon si Sec. De Lima, Ombudsman Morales, CJ Sereno.

    Ang tapang ng mga kababaihan, pinupuonan recently sa US. Iniyo si kampanyang #MeToo. Dai ko aram kung nadanggog na nindo. ‘Yan ang kampanya. Women are bravely sharing their stories of attacks and harassment from their peers, either physically or emotionally, in the workplace, or at home. Speaking out takes a huge amount of courage. Aram ta iyan diba? Lalo na kung kabisto ta si nag-commit kang transgression, lalo na kung kapamilya si nag-commit ning transgression. Bako palan iyan sa Pilipinas lang, dawa sa US siring man. Dai ko aram kung nahiling nindo si mga bareta na igwa kitang mga respected na mga TV personalities na haloy ta nang– arualdaw ta nang nahihiling sa TV, sa US, na dai ta inaasahan na ma-commit man palan sexual harrassment sa katrabaho. Sarong tawo lang ang nagtaram, pero si pagtaram nya, may ripples of effect na very consequential. Dahil pagtaram niya, nagbuo kaining #MeToo, na kadakol nagsabi na bako sana ika, ako man. Tapos, nahiling ta, nagparagulpi si kampanya — garo version siya nin One Billion Rising — na kadakul nang mga kababaihan na lumalaban, bako lang online pero nagluluwas sa tinampo. If you take a look at this picture, sa Washington DC ini, infront of the US capitol. Bihira man duman mag-rally ang mga tao. Pero iniyo, nagluluwas an mga kababaihan not just for the #MeToo movement, but also because it inspired discourses on other issues facing women: gender inequality, pay gaps, safety in the workplace, and women’s participation and contribution to policy-making. So, garo naka-udyok nin kampanya. Naka-relate si kadakol na kababaihan, kaya… kadakol sindang na-udyok. Dawa si mga organizers nangalas na maray sa very heavy turnout.

    It is said that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime. Kaya siguro ng challenge satuya digdi gabos: look around us. We have sisters who live in the shadows because of trauma and abuse. Pag minsan, mayo kitang… naging biktima man palan nin abuse. Pero dai siya makataram ta [constrained] siya nin kadakol na maray na factors. Ang hapot ta: How and what can we do to prevent this from happening to future generations of girls?

    Sa sakuya pong trabaho, nagkaigwa ako nin pagkakataon na mahiling first-hand si mga kababaihan na nag-agi sa kadakol na pang-aabuso. When my husband was still alive, he was the only one who was in politics. Pero ako, NGO worker. Nagta-trabahong abogado, pero NGO worker for the promotion of human rights. I was a member of an NGO called SALIGAN. Maliban sa sakuyang pagiging ina, nag-aabogado ako sa SALIGAN. Anong klase si pag-aabogado mi kadto? Si pag-aabogado mi po — hubin pa kaya ako, nagde-dream pa lang ako becoming a lawyer. Ang imagination ko, pirming magayon ang bado; pirmi akong naka high-heels, tapos pirming naka-power dress. Pero kan nagSALIGAN ako, aru-aldaw akong naka-pangharong saka naka-tsinelas. And it was necessary because we were reaching out to the poorest of our communities. Ang hinahanap mi si mga lugar na hararayo na maray na mayo nang abogadong nakakaabot. We worked with many sectors, farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, laborers, indigenous peoples.

    Mala ta mayong semana kaidto na dai ako nagpapa-Albay ta kadakol kaming mga communities na inaataman digdiyo. And during the last two years of my husband’s life, nag-head ako nin sarong project sa Masbate. I was in Masbate one week of every month dahil igwa kaming mga communities na pigtatabangan duman. Nagko-conduct kaming mga para-legal trainings sa mga sectors. And saro duman sa nahiling ko, dahil bihirang dumanan an Masbate kan si mga abogado, si mga tigtutukduan mi interesadong maray. Narisa mi pag matukdo kami sa Nagao o sa Legazpi, kadakol ang mga participants na nagdudurulag. Nagdudurulag, maagi muna samo, may gigibuhon muna, mapa-attendance lang. Pero sa mga lugar na arog kan Masbate, maduman kami sa mga coastal area. Narurumduman ko mahali sako sa Naga ala-una nin aga — ma-van kami ala-una nin aga — dahil pigka-catch mi si first trip kan fastcraft nin alas-singko. Dai ko aram kung siisay digdi nagpapa-Masbate, pero kadtong panahon na to, bawal magpa-reserve ning seats so kaipuhan pagbukas nin bintana yaon ka na. Maagi kami sa Naga ala-una, maabot kami sa Pilar pasado mga alas-kwatro na, almost, tapos masakay kaming mga alas-singko. Pag-abot mi — maabot kami sa Masbate, alas-siyete nin aga, naka-schedule an training, mag-start alas-otso — yaraon na ang participants. Erexcited gabos. Mataram kami mga alas otso nin aga hanggang alas-sieteng banggi, mayong nagdudurulag. Gusto talagang makanuod; urugmahon mag-training. An saro lang na request ninda videoke pagkabanggi. Mavideoke kami, tapos mairinom sinda ning hard. Itong de-kanto bagang irinuman. Siyempre makikibali ka man ta iyo ito si tigte-train mo. Makaranta sindang magdamag — an mga kanta pati ito bagang mga garo sa mga beerhouse, itong garo sawi. Makaranta yan, pag minsan matatapos alas-dos o ala-tres. Pero pagmata ko alas-siete for the eight o-clock session, marata na. Garo dai nagpuruyat tapos irinteresado man giraray pagkahapon. You feel the interest. You feel the hunger for knowledge. Iyo ini si mga ugmahon na dumanan. It was not an easy life. Pag minsan pag ang dudumanan ni farmer group, mayong harong na maa-accommodate pagkabanggi dahil kasyang-kasya lang sinda. Hahaputon kami,”Okay lang ba magturog kamo duman sa samong pigkakanan pangudto?” Sabi mi, “Okay lang.” Dadarahon kami — aram nindo itong mga make-shift huts na igwa lang siya ning atop pero mayo siyang dingding? Tapos igwa lang ning garo mga tukawan na halaba? Diyan kami na tururog for four nights. Ang katapat lang “Off!” tapos tamong. Minsan pa, coastal community ang dudumanan mo. Ang tuturugan mo man mga baruto. I remember when i was pregnant with Jillian, my youngest daughter — I think i was about 6 months pregnant — we went to coastal community, we would be there for three days. Ang sabi samuya, “Ma’am, okay lang na sa baruto kamo magturog? Pigpakaray mi man ngaya Ma’am itong saimong baruto.” Paghiling ko kan baruto magayunong si paggibo ninda ta ito bagang mga lambat, pigpatong-patong ninda para sa bados. Garo ako may kutson. Nakaturog akong maray, mapresko, mayong lamok. Pero pinukawan ako alas-dos ning aga. Ito palan masira na sindang alas-dos.

    Maugma na masakit na buhay. Pero dawa iriba-iba kitang experiences — kitang mga ina, iriba-iba ang experiences, pero pareho si sakit, ano? Dawa sibot-sibot kita, kita si mga nagmamaratang pinakaamay. Maopisina pa kita pero maasikaso pa sa harong. Paghali sa opisinang sahapon, pag-minsan masaod pa. Tapos mauli na ta kadakol nanaman trabaho. Pinakahuring maturog pagkabanggi ta dai maturog hanggang dai arayos an gabos. Si paghiling tang culture — ang cultural dictates, garo unfair na maray sa mga kababaihan. Ang mga lalake pagruluwas sa opisina, mairinom. Maray na sana si agom ko ta dai nag-iinom. Mairinom, tapos okay lang. Pero kita daw, prubaran ta daw na pagluwas ta sa opisina mairinom kita, mauli kitang matanga. Bakong mandatang babae kita pag arog kayan? Pero pag lalake ano, okay lang maglasing, ano? Okay lang. Iyo garo yan si mga kaipuhan tang ribayan.

    Itong sabi kong I have a chance to meet and handle women who have been victims of violence. Ano iniyo, makamundo. Nabisto ako sa Naga na naga-abogado kang kang mga nabugbog. So pag may binubugbog sa barangay, si kapitan na aapudan ako, dali-dali na ako, ako na ma-rescue. For a time, we did not have a halfway house yet. Kadakol saindo nahiling naman ang harong mi sa Naga. Sadit-sadit man baga ang harong mi sa Naga. Apartment sana man, pero halfway house pa yan kan panahon mi. The sad thing about it is that most of the time, I think — siguro more than 80% of the time — when we rescue women who have been physically abused, most of the time by their husbands, their partners, etc, it would not be the first time that they have undergone done that. Haloy nang maray na — normally nag-hahagad sinda ning saklolo pag panahon na. Itong initial na interview mo ang pirming sinasabi, “Attorney, haluyon na ini sakong ginibo. Talagang habo ko na. Talagang ngunyan madesisyon na akong habo ko na.” So, you will ask, “Ano ang gusto mo mangyari?” That was a time that, inda kung familiar kamo, Republic Act 9262 was passed — itong Anti-Violence Against Women and Children — which is actually a very good law. Hahaputon mo, “Anong gusto mong mangyari?” “Talagang, attorney, makaso na ‘ko para si mga aki yaon sako.” Kami man, abogado, mapuyat, magibo nin complaint, ifa-file sa court, tapos hanggang mahali na samo ta may makupkop na ning relative. Tapos pag hearing, ako na sana ang yaon sa korte. Dai na ako tigtubaga. A number of times, na-warning ako kan judge na ako na sana an interesado. Ako, nagpupuruti na an mata ko maghapong kahahalat ning cliente, pero dai na nag-aabot an cliente. Nagirumduman ko ma kaidto — si mga taga-Naga digdi — mayo pang SM. An tawo — gabos na taga-Naga — yaon sa LCC pag dominggo. Mahirilingan kamo duman. Kadakol akong clienteng nahiling ko sa LCC pag dominggo na pag nahihiling ako, nagtatago sa poste ta sweet na sweet nanaman sinda kan saindang agom. Ang problema, pag ako an nahihiling kang agom, anggot ang agom sako ta nagluwas na ako si nagsunson sa saindang agom. Magkaibang look ang mga mukha ninda. Pag babae, supog, ta dai na ako tigtubaga, pag lalake, anggot. I think those of you who are women in similar situations, parareho din ang istorya. Cycle lang talaga siya, saka naabot talaga ang panahon. Dai ko sinasabing all the time, pero pirming nagbabalik sa abusive environment. And most of the time, the reason why they go back to abusive environements is economic. Dai sinda economically empowered. Mayong pagtubod na kaya nindang buhayon ang saindang mga aki. Actually, RA 9262 empowers women in a way na — an sabi kang RA 9262 pag ika binugbog kang agom mo, pwedeng pahalion ang agom mo sa harong dawa pa pagsadiri nya ang harong. Dawa pa harong yan presente kan magurang niya. Pwede ‘yan pahalion. Kun dai ka nagtatrahabo dahil naga-ataman ka sa mga aki, obligasyon kan agom mo na suportahan kamo.

    The mindset is still different. Na-cultivate na kun mayo akong kwarta, dependent ako, so we changed our engagement with women groups. We stopped dealing with them in a very theoretical sense and gave a lot of premium to economic empowerment. Ito bagang tabangan ang kababaihan na magkaigwa nin sadiring pag-aram. Dawa kadakol mga kababaihan an dai pwedeng mag-opisina ta nag-aataman nin mga aki. Pero, pwede man maghanapbuhay dawa dikit, ta pag nakakakapot nin sadiring kwarta, mas makusog an boot mo, kasi nga empowered. Iyo si ginigibo mi kadto, even when my husband passed away, naging congresswoman ako kang 3rd district of Camarines Sur, gabos na proyekyo mi sa mga kababaihan, naka-80% economic empowerment.

    During my time in Congress, we also tried to amend several legislations na dai talaga uyon sa mga kababaihan. Halimbawa na lang kaini, itong concubinage and adultery, diba? Familiar kamo sa concubinage and adultery? Pareho siyang crime na naco-commit kang sarong may agom. Magkaiba ang sexual relations with another person who is not her husband or his wife. Ang sabi sa batas, pag adultery, iyan si maco-commit kang married woman. Diba pag naglaog ka sa sinehan, o naglaog ka sa hotel na may kaibanan kang lalakeng ara-akbay kang bako mong agom, pag nagluwas ka 3 hours after, dai ta aram kung ano ginibo [samo]. Hello. Pwede ka nang kasuhan ning adultery. Pero ang concubinage, igwa nang aki, very public ang relationship, dai pa nanggad pwede ang adultery because for a man to be convicted of adultery, there must be three circumstances present. Number one, may sexual relations in a very scandalous manner. Siisay man si ma.. Imposible. Panduwa, if you’re living together as husband and wife, tapos presenting the other woman as the wife. Pero dawa may aki na, dai pa nanggad pwede. So when I was in congress, I co-authored a bill na kun halion na ang concubinage and adultery… na pareho ang penalties. Pero, sa kasamaang palad, dai pa siya napapasa. [Republic Act] 7877, anti-sexual harrassment. Kung familiar kamo sa Anti-Sexual Harrassment Law, pwede lang siyang mangyari sa vicinity kang work saka kang school. Pero gusto ming i-expand ta kadakol man sexual harrassment na nangyayari sa luwas kang school saka kang sa luwas kang workplace. In fact, sa laog mismo kang harong, igwang mga sexual harrassment na nangyari. Another example, very very sad… kadakol akong nakaputan na incestuous rape ang kaso. Inexplain na either ama, tugang, o uncle, kadakol akong kinaputan na incestuous rape cases na mag-ama ang perpatrator. 90% of the time, ang mothers nagkakampi sa ama… 90% of the time, si aki niya o si daughter niyang naging victim na dai magreklamo. Or pag dai niyang dai nakumbinsing dai na magreklamo, si mother na mismo magibo nin istorya para ikaraot kan si aki. Very very sad, and I think that this stems from the fact that there is so much stigma, diba? Masupog, habo tang ipaisi, but that should not be the case. Saro sa mga bagay na na-find-out mi, sarong dakulaon na opportunity ang GAD project. Gabos na opisina ta may GAD project. Pero nagkaigwa kaming informal study kung pano ginagamit an GAD project. Kadaklan ginagamit lang ang GAD budget sa sarong okasyon na ginigibo during Women’s Month. All throughout the year mayo nang activities for women. Pero kadalasan nangyayari yan because the GAD Focal Person of almost every office, ang saindang nagiging point person is just a second assignment. Normally, department head siya na babae. Halimbawa, department head kang Budget. Dahil babae siya, she’s assigned. Of course, dai yan makaka-concentrate. Dapat ang GAD Focal Point-Person, iyo sana yan ang trabaho niya. Dapat igwa siyang activity for the entire year. Ang masakit pati, mayong padumanan si pang-gastos. That is what we advocated for. In Naga, we passed a — igwa baga kitang Magna Carta for women — na sinasabing 5% of the total budget for the office will be for Gender and Development Programs. Sa Naga, nagpasa kaming Women Development Code na sinasabi ming 10%. Sa Naga, 10% ang GAD and with proper planning, we were able to use it extensively for economic empowerment programs.

    Now, as Vice President, empowering the Filipina has become one of the pillars of our office’s anti-poverty program called Angat Buhay. Digdiyo po sa Angat Buhay we replace our office attire at least two days a week to visit the farthest and poorest municipalities all over the country, and find ways to complement the programs of the government and bridge the gaps where we find them. And now, we are focusing on livelihood for women, health and food security, in many difficult places all around the country.

    Filipinas may be facing tumultuous times, but this is also our time to shine. It is in our solidarity that we can rise stronger than ever, not only for those within our midst, but for the last, the least and the lost of our sisters.

    Kaya ang One Billion Rising, strength in numbers. Pag nagkairibanan kita, most probably, dai na kita matatakot.

    Now more than ever, women’s voices are necessary in building our nation. We can progress so much faster when men and women work together. Iyo pa niyo, ang huna kang iba, ang women empowerment kakalabanon ta an mga lalake. Dai man po arog kaiyan. Naghahanap lang kitang mga paagi na equal ang opportunities, tapos pano ta pa mako-compliment si mga strengths and weaknesses kan kada saro.

    It is in this collaboration and partnership, this dance of both genders, where we can truly be the best version of ourselves.

    As we encourage all women to join the One Billion Rising movement, siguro next year arog kayan, 5,000 teachers. Ang dami nating mae-encourage. It is our hope that countless Filipinas also claim their seat at the table and make their voices heard. Encouraging ourselves that there is no reason to be afraid, we will look after each other.

    Congratulations sa gabos na nasa likod kaining movement na ini. Because it is our hope that because of this movement, women will already come out, fight abuse, and say that we are as strong as men, and we will not allow abuse to happen to us anymore.

    So, happy Women’s Month ulit satuya gabos na mga kababaihan, pati naman sa mga lalake na supportive sa mga kababaihan. Marhay na aga liwat saindo!

    Posted in Speeches on Mar 24, 2018