By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City
The turning point of my career as a journalist was when I became sensitive to the voice of the woman in any story that I was pursuing. Learning the technical rudiments of writing and preparing for interviews was a real growth experience for me, but having the philosophy that women had to be included in any story, and should have a voice in every story was like my own rebirth.
When I was invited to write for the Women’s Feature Service, the only international women’s news bureau, I did not imagine how tremendous an eye opener it was to the prevailing culture of submission and degradation women are constantly subjected to. This was circa 2002.
Since then, my journalism path had never been so exciting and meaningful.
I eventually became the Central Visayas bureau chief of WFS, and we expanded into radio and television programs for women.
Although the women’s movement for gender equality and emancipation has often been received with disdain and resentment, there is no longer stopping the voices of women to be heard.
It is true what they say, the 20th century belongs to the woman. Peoples all over the world must heed her call.
The call for instance for the rethinking of economic values of competition and modernization as they have ravaged and devastated Mother Earth is so seriously compelling because it has created weather abnormalities, epidemics, toxicity, and horrible diseases.
Women are getting back their self-respect, breaking silence on domestic violence, rape, and gender inequality in the workplaces and homes, meeting the challenges of motherhood and career-building, domestic budgeting (read: making both ends meet), and everything else.
Everything under the sun has a woman’s story. Even a gasoline price increase has a woman’s angle — how will she make both ends meet for her family, how will she balance the expenses for food and another gas price hike.
Lately, I am particularly touched by the words of American indigenous leader Patricia Anne Davis at a forum of first nations in New York City. In response to the deep concerns of two women leaders from the first nations of Canada to protect their lands and lives, she said, there is a need to go back to the philosophy of the ‘power within’ and do away with the ‘power over’ that is prevalent.
“We are all currently living in a parasite system. But the age now is breaking silence, because in the tribal language, submission-domination does not exist. And it has been proven that the win-lose situation does not last long, it creates imbalance. We break our silence by using the power within us,” Patricia Anne said in the most calm of voices.
For me, women must re-educate themselves with the holistic ways of the indigenous women and the ancient babaylan. These were the real nature of women, prior to the Conquests – spiritual leaders, healers, life givers, and nurturers. Let us fathom the depths of these roles as they have been deliberately pushed out from our memories for thousands of years.
Let us bring the struggle for emancipation to higher levels. Its political struggle for positions in government and decision-making, or economic welfare and wages are but expressions of a holistic view, that women were part of a whole system of a balanced, harmonious universe.