We are now celebrating Women’s Month and its theme made me remember Lola Juana, my mother’s aunt. This year’s theme reads: “Juana, ang Tatag Mo ay Tatag Natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong”. They say that this year's celebration of Women's Month pays tribute to the strong and resilient "Juanas" who brought inspiring changes here in the country and across the globe. My Lola Juana, by the way, was the late Juana Delos Trinos- Monsobre, elder sister of my maternal grandmother Bernardita whose family came from San Felipe, Zambales but settled in Mamburao during the country’s Peace Time or Prewar Era. I have other 6 grandmothers who I knew only by their nicknames being Meling, Maring, Iska, Suela, Leding and Insiang. Bernardita or Ditang died of pneumonia just days after she gave birth to her second daughter Arsenia, my mother. Arsenia and her elder sister Ofelia both grew up under the care of our Lola Juana here in Mindoro until they were able to stand on their own. They are my dearest “Juana’s” who rise up and were able to move on despite of life’s challenges and hardships.
The celebration is mandated by, among other legal mandates, by Proclamation No. 224 s. 1988 declaring the first week of March each year as Women’s Week and March 8 as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day. The Philippine Commission for Women is the lead government agency for this particular event. But allow me to add that tomorrow, Friday, March 8, 2014 the Local Government Unit of Sablayan and the KAAGAPAY NGO-PO Network are out to honor a dedicated local Juana in the field of education in the person of Norma B. Taboy, Teacher III and at the same time Teacher-in-Charge at Claudio Salgado National High School in Baloc-Baloc.
According to sources, the 2014 Women's Month Celebration is the best time to highlight the “drivers of change” who untiringly volunteered themselves in times of disaster, conflict and calamity. This celebration recognizes the role of women in the rehabilitation process and their over-all contribution to progress. But allow me to emphasize the word “Natin”(Our) in the theme.
From my standpoint, empowering women, whether in the workplace, at home, anywhere and everywhere is a virtue. But demonizing men and undervaluing the family undermines that virtue. Herstory/history shows that men and womyn (to borrow a word first coined by James Hogg) struggled together while crossing the hostile river of family survival and both sexes must win or the river would submerge both of them, lifeless.
Like how my dearest “Juanas” stick to the Filipino culture of strong family ties which emphasizes the different but complementary roles of womyn and men….
(Photo: "Pistahan" by Amorsolo from Asiaweek)