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At Large

Remembering heroes, dead and alive

Today is a day to remember, to honor and to celebrate the lives of Filipino heroes. One of them is Ninoy Aquino, whose assassination is the reason for today’s holiday, his death setting off a series of events that brought our nation out of the shadow of martial law and whose legacy we still strive to live out.

The other hero is Gina Lopez, who served as secretary of the environment and natural resources before her colleagues in government denied her confirmation. But long before that, she had been an environmental champion, as well as the driving force behind many advocacies, including protecting abused women and children, and working with communities to promote livelihoods while protecting their natural resources.

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One thing notable about Lopez was her capacity for reinvention, moving from being the pampered daughter of a wealthy family, to a missionary in the poorest parts of the world, to a homegrown activist who took on entire industries in her lifelong mission to “clean up” our world. We can do no less than follow her example and blaze our own trails even as we strive to follow in her footsteps.

Another woman warrior in a lovely, gentle but steadfast package is Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Her record in crafting, legislating and negotiating for passage a remarkable number of women-friendly and socially progressive laws is truly astounding, especially given the misogynistic and violent bent of the Duterte administration and the silence and complacency of many of her colleagues, other women senators included.

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Speaking at the “Kwentong Kabaro” (Women’s Stories) last Saturday, Hontiveros asked rhetorically: “What do we do in the face of an unrelenting storm?” Her reply: “We continue forward because the storm will end.”

Currently, Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee on women and children, is battling headwinds blocking passage of her priority legislation. The Senate leadership, she said, asked for each senator to list three priority bills and three “pet” bills. Her priorities: the Sogie (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) Equality Bill, legalization of divorce and expanding the Solo Parents Act. Her favorites: reduction of teenage pregnancies, raise the age of sexual consent from 12 to 18, and strengthening children’s rights. Certainly, a most daunting list of proposed controversial laws that promise a tsunami of social change. But looking back, who knew we would have, in speedy succession, an expanded maternity leave law, a “bawal bastos” law that pushes the borders of the legal definition of sexual harassment, a law addressing the problem of mental health, among many others.

Given the vocal opposition even now from her colleagues, and the firestorm in social and traditional media ignited by the case of Gretchen Diez, a transgender woman denied use of a women’s rest room in a mall, Hontiveros certainly faces tumultuous times ahead. But as she said, it’s in times like these that one should unfurl one’s sails and power forward!

* * *

Two men — a fading male star and a failing stunt man/factotum — confront the inevitable in the film “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood.” The biggest thing about this ninth film by Quentin Tarantino is that it stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Their luster is certainly far from fading, but I’m sure the movie also “spoke” to them about their fast-approaching fadeout.

In the meantime, there’s fun and frolic in this fond homage to midcentury Hollywood, not least of which are the retro dress styles and hairdo’s and the pop music of the late ’60s. Certainly the most thunderous event of that era was the massacre of actress Sharon Tate and her house guests by a gang of anarchists mesmerized by the so-called head of their dysfunctional family, Charles Manson. This also makes a cameo appearance in the film.

“Once Upon a Time…” has an air of melancholy about it, a sense of innocence on the brink of permanent loss, of a world changing and morphing in ways unforeseen and unbidden. It is on the whole seemingly loose and lackadaisical, until events race toward the shocking conclusion. Audiences would do well to remember that it is called “Once Upon a Time,” and that some fairy tales can and do end on a dark, mordant note.

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TAGS: At Large, Benigno Aquino Jr., Gina Lopez, heroes, Rina Jimenez-David, Risa Hontiveros
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