Karina David, ‘woke’ citizen | Inquirer Opinion

Karina David, ‘woke’ citizen

/ 09:12 AM May 11, 2019

In the strict estimation employed by journalists when summing up the life of Karina Constantino David, there are those who will say she doesn’t deserve this recognition.

After all, she had long left government service and, while still involved in politics, particularly in the run-up to Monday’s elections, she had chosen to play a low-key role, consulting behind the scenes.


But people wouldn’t know this judging from the stream of personal, intimate, pained, admiring and rueful tributes to her as a woman, friend, wife and mother, activist and artist, as seen on social and mainstream media and the more private sharing of friends.

She was an icon for many reasons, a woman of many parts. She was half of the duo Inang Laya (“Mother Freedom,” with Becky Demetillo Abraham), which rose to prominence in the years of the anti-Marcos struggle with songs imbued with patriotism and calls for freedom and justice. The duo even brought out an album of songs from the country’s long history of struggle, from the anti-Spanish and anti-American revolutionaries, to the guerrillas fighting the Japanese in World War II, to anti-martial law activists, summing up the Filipino people’s enduring spirit of dissent.


Her songs, though, were but expressions of a deeply-rooted love for country, which perhaps was inevitable given that she was the daughter of historian Renato Constantino, whose writings opened the eyes of generations to the continuing impact of colonialism and patronage politics. Her mother Letizia was her husband’s partner and collaborator, and a feisty figure in her own right.

Karina, though, brought this awareness beyond the halls of academe. Though a professor and head of the Department of Community Development of UP Diliman, she applied her principles as an activist and community organizer primarily through Hasik (Harnessing Self-reliant Initiatives and Knowledge), which worked with urban poor communities on such projects like land security, community safety, daycare, and domestic violence. She did all these while also helping organize and galvanize public opinion against the Marcos dictatorship.

After the Edsa Revolt of 1986, David served as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, then as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and later as chair of the Civil Service Commission. She later served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Government Service Insurance System. All in all, some 30 years of devoted, unsullied and effective government service.

Her family, in a statement, said this of Karina: “Much of her life was spent serving the Filipino people in her work as professor, activist, community organizer and public servant. She was a patriot in the true sense of the word.”

This she would prove even after the end of her life in public service. At once, she plunged into the maelstrom of the struggle against the more egregious abuses of the Duterte administration, serving as one of the convenors of EveryWoman, which sought to articulate the sentiments and organize women toward action in the face of the misogyny and verbal abuse unleashed by the President.

All these involvements, despite the arrival of grandchildren and of serious physical challenges. As her family pointed out: “As a professional, she was the epitome of discipline, intelligence and integrity; as a wife, mother and grandmother, she was the perfect example of patience, selflessness and unconditional love.”

We send our sympathies to all those Karina left behind, but especially her family: husband Randy, a columnist in this paper and with whom she recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary; children broadcaster Kara David, UP professor Dr. Carlos Primo David, Nadya Melina David and Jika David, and their grandchildren Julia, Jacinta, Xavier, Alonso and Lila.

Karina Constantino David leaves behind a legacy of service, integrity and bravery, a model of “woke” citizenship. But her friends will also remember these: her humor exemplified by her hoarse laughter, kindness, patience and enduring love of country.

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TAGS: CSC, Editorial, Inang Laya, Kara, Karina David, Randy, UP
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