April 16, 2024

The Cordillera is a haven of empowered women who shine in various fields of expertise. All have a successful and inspiring story to tell.
Maria “Whang-Od” Oggay is not just a famous tattoo artist but the epitome of a woman who values the importance of culture and traditions. Tattoo is not only a form of art to the Kalinga tribe. Their ancestors regarded it as a symbol of prestige and power. This is the reason for Apo Whang-od’s enthusiasm for tattooing. She wants to foster awareness to the generation that tattoo is considered a culture and tradition that needs to be passed from one generation to another generation.
The late successful entrepreneur and exporter Leonarda “Narda” Capuyan became an inspiration to women and local businesspersons. She promoted hand-woven arts and crafts. Her efforts and innovativeness improved the local textile and fabric industry and eliminated cultural discrimination. Indigenous designs and products were appreciated and patronized by lowlanders and foreigners.
Department of Education-Cordillera Director Estela L. Cariño, Schools Division Superintendent Soraya T. Faculo, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Carmel F. Meris, and Atty. Betty Lourdes Tabanda secured high positions in the academe and politics. They are proof that women bloom and productively wherever they are planted. They are the embodiment of effective and efficient leaders that one must look up to.
On the other hand, some stories of women are unpleasant. However, they too are valuable. We can derive lessons from them that can drive us to strive harder to be successful.
The portrait of “Monalisa” is more than a beautiful image or an eminent art. It signifies strength and sacrifice. Accordingly, Monalisa was a battered wife. Her innocent smile radiates sadness as an upshot of physical violence caused by her husband.
It is an irony that in the new era, Monalisa still exists. Their numbers continue to rise rapidly. The endurance and martyrdom they manifest are rooted mainly in the unconditional love for their children. They want them to enjoy a complete family.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be like Monalisa who still manages to smile despite her agonies and pains. Some are representations of “Sisa”. She is one of the “tragic heroines” in the “Noli Me Tangere”. It is not her beauty that captured the attention of the readers. But her heart-breaking situation made them feel emotional and tearful. She became mentally distraught due to the hostility she encountered. Her husband physically and sexually abused her.
“Sisa” symbolizes hardships and injustices. Currently, there are heinous crimes that threaten women of all ages. Physical abuse resulting in murder is happening worldwide to women who are married, with live-in partners, or in a serious relationship. We seldom hear news about a husband who killed his wife due to jealousy or other obnoxious reasons. This is so disgusting. Every wife or girlfriend deserves to be respected and loved. A man has no right to harm them both physically and emotionally. Women are not punching bags that men can just hit or trash bags that will catch toxic words uttered to them. Above all, men have no right to end women’s lives violently. Women are like flowers. They must be properly nurtured to blossom beautifully. A woman is also comparable to a bird. If you hold it tightly, the bird will surely die.
Sexual abuse is also rampant anywhere. Rape cases keep on increasing based on police reports. Perpetrators or rapists victimize even infants, seniors, or their children or relatives. Worse, minors and those who are preachers or active in the churches also engage in raping or sexually assaulting. This is alarming. It seems there is no one whom we can be trusted anymore. Moreover, women are no longer safe to trust men and stay with them even in holy places.
Victims of sexual abuse usually experience trauma, self-pity, and diminished self-esteem. Some no longer bear the torment. It is pitiful to see women like “Sisa” who were abused and lost the soundness of their minds. The world is indeed cruel and some men take advantage of their weaknesses and vulnerability. Women are created by God to serve or act as partners of men. They are a great help to their husband and the community. Without women, there will be no unity and serenity. Women are the promoters of love, peace, and harmony. They are the one who manifests genuine love to their husband and children and teaches them to love genuinely. This is important to maintain a harmonious relationship in the home and in the community.
Hence, a woman needs to be vigilant. She must protect herself from any kind of violence or abuse. Her voice must echo loudly to be heard and given appropriate attention or actions. She must stand courageously and speak firmly for her rights and welfare. The stories of “Monalisa” and “Sisa” who preferred to keep their silence and became sufferers of violence or abuse must serve as an eye-opener. A Filipino quote emphasizes that “Walang taong manloloko kung walang taong magpapaloko”. Yes! A woman must learn to say “No” or “Stop” if she feels that her rights are being violated. Life is beautiful and she needs to protect it and never allow someone to destroy it.
Women who are experiencing any form of abuse or violence must seek help from their immediate relatives, friends, and authorities. There are agencies or organizations they can approach such as the Women’s Front Desk in the police stations, Department of Social, Welfare and Development, Local Government Unit, and churches. Everybody has an essential role to play in ending violence against women.
It is hoped that the celebration of Women’s Month will pave the way for every woman to be wiser and man to be more sensitive and affectionate. Both men and women must be advocates of peace and unity through love and respect.
Everyone must stop, look and listen. Every woman deserves the highest respect and recognition. Her sacrifices and contributions to her family and the community are priceless and immeasurable.
Happy Women’s Month to all women out there. Keep on striving. Let everyone hear your voice. A woman’s voice matters to someone, particularly to the youth. It serves as an essential instrument to make their dreams or ambitions come true.