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Time to Shout #BabaeAko (I am a Woman)

We just celebrated the 120th independence of the Philippines from Spain after America bought the country from them in 1898. By July 4th, 1949 the Americans liberated us after fighting off Japanese off the island. 

At that time, many Filipino women were subjected to imprisonment to become comfort women to the Japanese imperialist. They provided sexual favors to the Japanese, raped and even left for dead after they were used. These are women of good standing in their community - single and married women were rounded from their homes and villages and was taken captives for the pleasure of the Japanese when they occupied the Philippines in 1941 until the Americans liberated us again and made to pay for all the damages they (Japanese) caused in the country. 

But the women who suffered during those times were never compensated. In fact, they don't want only money. The memories, the horror they suffered cannot be measured by few hundred dollars (or yen) to make them forget. Generations have fought off these horrors in their families.  All they were asking was an acknowledgment that it happened and that the Japanese were sincerely sorry.  The government of the Philippines and South Korea urge the government of Japan to do the right thing, and until now we are waiting. Read more about it here A wartime issue still unresolved

Women have always been a pawn in any war and even in peace. 

More recent events in the Philippines put the fight of women against misogyny in the forefront again. We launched a new campaign #BabaeAko to fight off anything and everything misogynistic actions towards girls and women. This campaign is difficult because the one perpetrating misogyny is the president himself. A populist politician loved by many and adored like a demi-god. 

The campaign was brewing since the current president sat in his throne of power in 2016. Although this president is not new to power. He's been mayor of one of the biggest province in the south of the Philippines (Davao) and had a reputation of being a hoodlum and a womanizer. He brags on both and claimed women just love him they fall in his feet and yet he declared how much respect he has for his mother, how ironic?

Because of his actions and his barbed words in describing women, Filipinas are bonding to fight off misogyny using the social media for wider reach. Especially for those who cannot go to the streets to protest like many are doing now to show that we too are not happy to be subject to the presidents fancy and insults!

How did it start?

If you're following the Philippines politics, you will know that the current government is culling all women in the high position. From women-led news portal claiming they twist stories. Well, in fact, they are truthfully telling stories as it happens when it happens but I guess knowing that they are being watched and reported in real time made them fidgety. To the Chief Justice - Ma. Lourdes Sereno regardless of her good track record but she does not side with the current administration quality of governance, was taken out of her office based on personal grudges from judges aligned to the current government to the Quo Warranto launched by the president bulldog undermining the constitution, and ignoring the rule that she can only be removed by impeachment. It doesn't help that the legislative body and executive body are in cahoots to please our demigod of a president. Despite intellectuals and academics explanations that the QW was unconstitutional and should not have been heard by the supreme court, no action is being done. Now the justice branch of the government is corrupted and now in cahoots with the rest of the bodies. 

He was not able to get the woman head of the Ombudsman Conchita Morales ousted because she's almost retiring, but she was not spared from his barbed words and innuendos. Listen to her interview from CNN

But those are women and institution in a position of power themselves. What happens if they don't hold any position, worst if they are on the other side of the law? For the president, he doesn't care. He will say whatever he wants about women as if he has no mother, no sister, no wife, no mistress, no daughter, no granddaughter.  He thinks women are less of a person from men. And when he is called upon his utterance, everything is said to be said in jest -- he is "just joking"  His abuse of women are jokes to him ... you be the judge.

On murdered Australian missionary when the current president was mayor of Davao

On rebel women 

The kissing incident in South Korea 

The last story broke the camels back so to speak, and #BabaeAko gained traction. It was disgusting. One woman posted her disgust online, telling us that listening to a president who can use some training in public speaking (he loves to swear) and watch someone in less powerful position agree to something I am sure she has some cognitive dissonance before getting herself embroiled to it was something not right and I agree with her.

The kiss, despite the woman's reluctance, is a picture of power play - forcing himself on the woman. It the "damn if you do and damn if you don't moment" and the weakness of resolve win over her. Worst is, after all the clamor from social media, from women all over the country and the world that what was done to her was wrong, the woman on the stage defended the action of the president. She accepted that it was the right thing to do -- instant fame! For the price of her dignity. 

Sure it will be forgotten soon enough. All the actions and utterance of our president is newsworthy these days there's too many to keep track of his booboos in the TV, but he is never penalized for his action. No one goes against him - or you will be threatened, not by him alone but his million of trolls populating the internet these days. Despite the comparison to what the American president said "of grabbing women," our current president is not swayed because when he says something and never takes them back, instead like I said earlier, labels them as joke or sarcasm and people, women especially suck it all up and still clap and laud him as if they are in a trance.   

I pity my countrymen and women when they do that. Like I pity the woman in South Korea and the other women who defended him and his actions including his girlfriends and former wives because they are those who don't know any better. 

I laud women who fight back and there are many of us - in different form and mine is in writing. I cannot say this action will change the current president or his cohorts into thinking that women are commodities or are weaker than men.  But I am sure slowly women in the Philippines are getting stronger in their convictions that they are not any more comfort women, they are not some bitch who can be ordered around. 

I believe this president of ours is not capable of love. But he thinks he knows how to love or is loved by many. Maybe his mother did love him, but I am sure if she were alive she would be repulsed by his son's actions towards women, towards her kindred spirits. 

Visit another post on the Philippine Independence Day here


  • Girl Power
  • Gender-based Violence
  • Human Rights
    • South and Central Asia
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