Value the strong woman
Bb. Pilipinas Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s winning answer is simply true. Strong women are indeed what Marawi City needs now that it is recovering from last year’s siege by Islamic State-linked militants.
This also applies to anyone, anywhere. The strength of a woman — mother, wife, sister, or friend — is like a universal need. As Gray said, the morale of a community should remain “strong and high.”
Marawi is now receiving aid from other countries like Japan, the United States, Italy and Belgium. Help may come from outside, but it can also grow from the inside. In a situation where moving on is the only way to go, it is no surprise that women can provide the greatest help people ever needed. They are naturally nurturing, especially in families at home—where everything in the community starts.
It goes without saying that mothers deserve great love and appreciation. They always want what’s best for their family and they are willing to give up anything just to fulfill their responsibilities.
One example would be former congresswoman Sitti Turabin-Hataman. Last year, she resigned her post as representative of the party-list group Anak Mindanao to return to community work. In a conference on Islamic studies supported by the US Department of State held this month at the University of the Philippines Diliman, she opened up during her speech about another reason for her resignation: Her work was taking its toll on her health. She said politics was not bad, but it was not for some people, including herself. She wanted to focus on being a better mother for her children, she said.
It also takes a woman’s strength to achieve peace in a society. Women can remind people about the right things to do.
War might not have happened in the first place if we accepted and respected diversity in the country.
Such was a thought Muslim American professor Azizah al-Hibri talked about in the same conference. Referring to the teachings and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), she said that in following a certain faith, there should be no compulsion. She also presented parts of the Medina Charter, a constitution drafted by Prophet Muhammad, showing protection and liberty guaranteed to different tribes in the place.
In the case of Ameerah S. Ibrahim, a barangay kagawad (councilor) of Culiat and the only Muslim councilor in Quezon City, it was not easy to work away from her home in Cotabato City and in a diverse community like Culiat, which also has a large number of Iglesia Ni Cristo followers. But she went about her job in chairing the barangay’s antidrug abuse and infrastructure committees and she focused on women and single parents (widowed and divorced) through the Solo Parents Organization.
Despite threats to her family’s life (a grenade was thrown near her home in 2016), Ibrahim just carried on with the barangay’s operations against illegal drugs.
Although many of us Filipinos follow a culture of patriarchy, women should not always depend on their husbands.
Women have also proven that they make strong leaders. The Inquirer’s late editor in chief, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, was the newspaper’s north star and one of the figures of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Based on the film “The Post,” the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham stood up for press freedom by publishing stories on top-secret Pentagon papers despite opposition from the company’s investors and the risks projected by the US government. As Graham showed, sometimes it is wiser to seek advice, and not permission.
In a case when it is men who take the lead, their success would be more achievable with the help of women. Even fictional superhero Black Panther needed a woman to remind him that it was his decision as to what kind of king he should be and that mistakes in the past should stay in the past.
Let the recently commemorated 50th anniversary of the Jabidah massacre, the Marawi siege, and other wars in Mindanao stay in history. People are still seeking closure and justice, but it should not be through another war. No child deserves to experience or witness violence.
It is pleasantly surprising that 94 percent of Filipinos are very/fairly happy with life, based on the Social Weather Stations’ survey for the fourth quarter of 2017, and that Mindanao had the highest happiness rate. Perhaps this shows a lot of positive outlook and the urge to move forward and have a better life.
It is difficult, but wise, to always choose to be strong. And despite every challenge, women can always find a reason to be strong.
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Yara Lukman, 22, is a communication graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University. She works at the Inquirer newsroom.
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