I am especially grateful that I have a strong Nanay, who also fights for the rights and freedom of the women who are abused and oppressed.  I am happy that my Nanay has stood her ground, picked herself up and walked on despite the heartaches that she has been through.

Davao Today

I grew up a Tatay’s girl.  As far as I can remember, I could always feel a connection with him.  Though we didn’t bond much when I was a kid as he would always come home late from work or from going out with friends, he would always wake me and my sisters up in the middle of the night.  He would arrive and tickle us awake or smother us with kisses.

I never felt or experienced that with my Nanay.

But as the years passed by, slowly I can see things between my parents that not even silence could hide.  The midnight tickles and kisses stopped and family bonding in the public plaza was no longer an option.  Shuffling to ask permission between two parents is the standard operating procedure and talks about moving out and separation can be heard from my relatives, Titos and Titas.

The static tension between two people who have grown apart through the years could only implode with unspoken words of regret, anger, loneliness and fear.  Their long drawn-out battle of marriage demons finally came to an end.

I was already a grown-up when I heard and saw my mother cry over my father.  It was the most heartbreaking sight.  The strongest woman I know, all hunched-up, puffy-eyed, red-nosed and looking sad as the devil may care, was crying her heart out for the man who broke her heart, my father.

I just hugged her then and there, like a daughter would.  After that, she took me out and then we ate chocolate ice cream, a sure-fire cure for any broken heart.  Right there and then, I already understood that things would have to be as things ought to be.  And no matter what would happen to my family, we children would understand.

Later on, my mother slowly picked up the broken pieces of her family life.  But she was not alone.  We were there to help her pick up the jagged cuts and shapes and slowly built our dysfunctional family again.

I have always been thankful that my Nanay is a strong woman.  Having fended for herself since she was young, coming from a poor family and that my Lola, who was her sole supporter, died of cancer when she was young, she already took the world on her shoulders at such a young age.

Having joined the activist movement also, she already displayed her strength of character and her compassion for other women who were abused and oppressed.  If she would have been made of lesser stuff, the scars that she has endured through the years would have made her so fragile that she might break.

But then, I believe that women are made of sterner stuff.

In our present and chaotic times, women’s issues have been handled in less than competent ways by the government.  Livelihood is one of the main concerns since majority of the population comprises women.  This year alone, roughly about half a million graduates are set to join the labor force according to the Commission on Higher Education, adding to the multitudes of the unemployed.  What are the options then for women?

The Department of Labor and Employment enlists call-centers, cyber-services, hotels and restaurants as top opportunities of employment as of late.  Call centers hire thousands of women each year, endangering their health and lifestyle as night becomes day for them.  Hotels and restaurants also prove to be a lucrative job for them.  But then, these opportunities would require them to work away from their families, leading to another exodus of overseas workers.

Women are also forced into the flesh trade.  In Cagayan de Oro alone, at least 600 women are registered in the city, not including those who are still undocumented.  These women mostly come from the provinces of Bukidnon and Agusan and from Butuan City.

Lalay Garcia of Tubaga Movement- Cagayan de Oro attested that prostituted women are forced and kept into the market.  It’s either because they are threatened or abused by their families, employers or pimps until the women victims start to believe that there is no other life for them outside of prostitution.

Prostituted women are also driven into this kind of slavery as there is a great lack of employment which they could have availed.  Considering the high qualifications these jobs usually require, those who came from poor families or were not able to finish their education due to high tuition fees can only turn to the sex trade for survival.

But employment problems are just the tip of the icing.  The constant prevailing issue is the acts of violence against women.  Physical violence has the highest incidence, pointing to 22 percent or at least 2,004 reported cases, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey.  Sexual violence is also committed usually against those who live in rural areas.  Marital violence, experienced by the spouses during their marital union, shows that at least eight percent have experienced sexual violence and 23 percent have experienced other forms of violence.

It is sad to note that despite the freedom of women nowadays, violence against our own gender are still being perpetuated continuously, physically, sexually and psychologically.

I am especially grateful that I have a strong Nanay, who also fights for the rights and freedom of the women who are abused and oppressed.  I am happy that my Nanay has stood her ground, picked herself up and walked on despite the heartaches that she has been through.

I am proud of my Nanay who is such a character of strength and endurance.  She has showed me and my sisters that women are indeed a proud race and that there is hope for women who have been down in the dumps, lost, abused and who simply could not find their way back.

A saying goes, “there is a special place for women who help other women.”  I will bet my soul that for my Nanay, there really is a special place for her in the cosmos, with all the women that she has helped.

Beverly Ann S. Musni, Yr. is a free spirit.   She is a wanderlust, a dreamer and a frustrated rock star who dreams of travelling the world one day.  She is a world peace advocate.

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