Since when has caring become subversive? | Inquirer Opinion

Since when has caring become subversive?

/ 04:06 AM November 24, 2021

Now available on Netflix is a limited series called “Maid.” It tells the story (“inspired” by the book “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and A Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land) of Alex who flees from the trailer she shares with her husband, taking along her two-year-old daughter, Maddy.

Alex flees mainly to escape her husband’s bouts of uncontrollable anger when drunk or especially aggrieved, as well as the iron control he wields over all aspects of her life. But she insists that she is not a “victim” of physical abuse, explaining that the reason she resists checking into a shelter for abused women is that “I don’t want to take the place of a woman who is really a victim.” Only later does she realize that she is, in fact, a victim of emotional and financial abuse.


Still, struggling with poverty and homelessness, Alex finds herself seeking shelter in such a home. When she finds out that a friend she made in the shelter had gone back to her physically abusive husband, Alex wonders what got into the friend. “Honey,” says the shelter’s manager, “don’t you know how many times women have come and gone from here? How many times do you think it took me before I made up my mind? Nine times!”

The limited series touched off echoes of the past with me, when as a feminist journalist I got deeply involved in the issue of domestic violence (DV) and in the institutionalizing of shelters for abused women, much like that in “Maid.”


One such shelter was the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) founded by a collective headed by Raquel “Rock” Tiglao, who before she passed away after battling cancer was executive director of the WCC and a compelling voice in the struggle to get violence against women, including DV, recognized as a legitimate public interest issue deserving of a public response.

Rock was succeeded in 2000 by Ma. Salome “Sally” Crisostomo Ujano, although Sally had been part of WCC since 1990. Juan Rodrigo Leal, former medico-legal officer of the PNP-Crime Lab, in a post, recalled that the Women’s Crisis and Child Protection Center (WCCPC) based in Camp Crame would often refer victims of battering and rape to the WCC “for temporary shelter and psychosocial support.” The Philippine National Police even had a partnership with the WCC (during Sally’s stint as executive director) to conduct training on violence against women and children for personnel of the PNP’s Women and Children Protection desks.

That Sally took an active part in the training of police personnel right in the precincts of PNP’s headquarters would surely belie the charges of “rebellion” or “subversion” recently filed against Sally, who is now being held in custody.

“Anong rebelyon pinagsasabi n’yo? (What rebellion are you talking about?) Leal asks pointedly. “Naging partner pa nga ng PNP WCCPC at WCPD ang Women’s Crisis Center at si Sally Ujano, and then ngayon sasabihin n’yo that she was in hiding for 15 years? Juskolord!”

“The accusation against Sally Ujano is a big lie,” declares the National Rural Women Coalition (PKKK) in a statement of support for the former WCC executive director. From 2005 to 2007, the organization dealt closely with Sally, said the organization. The PKKK was then beginning its campaign against violence against women, and Sally and the WCC were deeply involved in training their members to recognize the signs of abuse and what steps to take to stem it. Later, after leaving the WCC, said the PKKK, Sally still worked with them in an alliance against human trafficking and abuse of women.

Support for Sally has likewise come in a flood of statements and protests from women’s groups as well as organizations working on the promotion and protection of human rights.

Has working for the rights of women now become a form of rebellion? What is the basis for the PNP’s punitive action against a woman who has devoted a big chunk of her life to coming to the aid of beleaguered women and children?


Unless, under this misogynistic administration in the throes of Red-baiting and witch-hunting, speaking out against all forms of violence, including domestic violence and abuse, is now considered a crime, and not just any crime but subversion and rebellion!

Release Sally Ujano now! End all forms of violence and abuse against women and children!

* * * 

Rina Jimenez David is a retired columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and was chair of the women’s group Pilipina.

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TAGS: Commentary, Ma. Salome Crisostomo Ujano, Maid Netflix series, Raquel Tiglao, Rina Jimenez-David, Sally Ujano, Women’s Crisis Center
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