New York City — The OSM! online magazine celebrates International Women’s Day today by honoring women and their work.
Foremost of these honorees are six women authors named by Ranker.com as among the 48 top contemporary Philippine writers.
They are Lualhati Bautista (writer of Dekada ’70, Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?, and ‘GAPÔ), Maria Ressa (CEO of Rappler, and author of Seeds of Terror, a book published by Free Press that contains blow-by-blow account of the hideouts of Al-Qaeda in Asia.), Jeannette Bragger (Allons-y! Le Francais par etapes (Cahier de travaux practiques), 6th Edition), Rustica Carpio (Dramatic poundal, The Shanghai Of My Past and other essays), Genoveva Matute (Babae at iba pang mga kuwento, None of the Bitter, and other stories in English), Isabel Prysler ( Filipina-Spanish journalist and TV host), and Ninotchka Rosca (Co-founder of transnational feminist group AF3IRM, author of Twice Blessed, State of War, Bitter country, and other stories).
On the eve of women’s day celebration, Rosca shared the importance of theory building in the global feminist movement during a “cultural mixer” among young feminists in New York of the group AF3IRM.
At the Salon Symphony of the International Women Artists Salon in Brooklyn today, OSM! will share the life and times of Natividad Almeda-Lopez (September 8, 1892 – January 22, 1977), the first female lawyer in the Philippines along with 20 other nationalities honoring their women’s works.
Almeda-Lopez was the first woman to defend a woman in a court of law.
She passed the bar in 1913 and has been described as a “beacon in the feminist movement”. She is also a suffragist, fighting for the right of women to vote.
Her son Augusto, a retired lawyer and broadcast media executive, remembers his mother as a very public person. In a Philippine media interview he was quoted as saying, “she was always visited in the house by all sectors of the community in need of legal advice. She hosted many meetings to promote women’s suffrage, which I didn’t understand.”
Almeda-Lopez married late, at the age 30, widower Domingo Lopez, a lawyer and Tayabas province governor. She continued being a law practitioner in Manila and did not join him to be a politician’s dutiful wife. Instead, the governor took the train or car to visit her on weekends.
Almeda-Lopez saved a lot of lives of women and children, through the foundation, Gota de Leche (Drop of Milk), which provided food and milk during the epidemic which spread in the Philippines as one of the devastating impacts of WWII.
Since 1906, a ‘Drop of Milk’ has made a difference in the lives of women and children in the Philippines, albeit silently. Gota de Leche Manila was a project of the Asociacion Feminista Filipina, and became the banner program when the La Proteccion de la Infancia was incorporated in 1907. Gota de leche was the name everyone remembers, and has seen the unfolding of one crisis after another in the Philippines, taking an active part in the survival and triumph of Filipino women and children through the ages.
Almeda-Lopez’s grand daughter Anna Leah Sarabia, a writer and feminist leader, said: “In the beginning, I could not understand the dedication of my grandmother, who joined La Proteccion at age 15, and served as president of the organization La Gota de Leche, even as she was the first woman judge and justice in our country, and of my mother for the institution. She worked for the restoration of the Gota building which later earned a UNESCO heritage.”
Sarabia said it was only in the mid-1990s, when she began seeing references connecting Gota de Leche to the suffrage movement and to women’s early campaign for education and empowerment. “It was only then that I understood what it meant to them, and to other early women advocates,” she said.
During the relief and rehabilitation for super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors, Gota de Leche reached out to mothers and children in the province of Leyte, in said passion and sense of responsibility Almeda-Lopez and her contemporaries did.
Almeda-Lopez’s efforts on the right of women to vote saw fruition 30 years after the struggle begun. It was long and hard fought and it wasn’t in vain, remembers Sarabia. (Photos from Google.com and Bayang Gudaw)