Rina and remembering
Regina “Rina” Jimenez David’s decades-old Inquirer column was named “At Large,” its self-deprecating wit so palpable because Rina, literally and metaphorically, was larger than life. A testament to her prodigious skills as a journalist are her many plaudits including a TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service) award in 2013; and the books she has written including “The Filipino Woman in the 21st Century” and a volume each on the Jimenez and David family histories.I recall the verbal tussle in the 1990s between movie and TV chief censor Manuel Morato and women advocates over his banning of the “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I protested the undue maligning of the Martin Scorsese movie to which Rina added her voice, drawing further snide remarks from Morato who mused that Rina must be Randy David’s better half. Rina riposted, no thanks, but I have a husband—not Randy—and am quite happy with him (or words to that effect).I remember with fondness gatherings of the Pinay (Pilipina) sisterhood. Pilipina is the first feminist organization in the country which Rina chaired for a good many years. Some meetings were official—to thresh out a statement or plan a lobbying campaign. We often licked our wounds in the aftermath but this only hardened our resolve for the next joust on another day. Other gatherings were for the sheer joy of singing and carousing (while filling our palates, of course). We particularly relished belting misogynistic songs, such as “Technique”: “You love ‘em, you leave ‘em, that’s what is known as technique …,” squealing in mock delight at these “self-lacerating” songs which we could scarcely believe we had sung once with gusto.
Always we celebrated the feminism that the Pinay sisterhood affirmed, a feminism that blended and balanced home and work as best as we could, seeking to live by the credo “The personal is political.” Rina got the balance right, more often than many of us. Rina’s devotion to hubby Pie and their two children was manifest in her loving references to them, and later, to grandson Kin-kin (named after a “Star Wars” character).
Rina managed to keep the tension of mother vs writer within her persona, sometimes barely, like many of us. Heavy with child in 1986 but true to her journalist’s instincts, she found her way to the teeming ranks in Edsa caught in a grand konfrontasi with the dictatorship, later writing an eyewitness account. Rina was also generous with her time. Twice I invited her to visit modest organizing efforts among women workers in General Santos City and in the Cavite ecozone. Each time she came, sharing their stories in the Inquirer.
At a communication seminar in Bangkok where she served as resource person, Rina came to the breakfast table in figure-hugging garb, curves, and bilbil on full display. But she couldn’t care less—the excess pounds were other people’s problem, not hers. That was Rina with characteristic aplomb. But her raucous, rambunctious side, we also were privy to, especially her soul sister of 50 years, Pennie Azarcon de la Cruz who can share a lifetime of vignettes as Rina’s college mate, work colleague, partner-in-crime, and BFF (best friend forever). Rina’s gift of gab matched her gift of pen.
And so we celebrate Rina for speaking up for women day after day, year after year, often uttering harsh truths to cut through the crap of machismo and patriarchy.
Thank you, Rina, for patiently marshalling facts and mobilizing statistics to disarm unbelieving and skeptical readers.
Thank you for mentoring a young generation of feminists on the gender issues of the day, tackling the complexities of women’s reproductive rights and freedom, bedrock of women’s agency.
Thank you for rendering the problems (of women) without a name visible and your conclusions inescapable.
Thank you for the passions and seasons you unstintingly devoted to the cause of the ka-womenan that you made your life’s calling.
Go well, dear sister, and God bless.
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Jurgette Honculada, Zamboanga City-based and in her 70s, is with the Pinay sisterhood.