Women religious in Mindanao have been in the forefront of the causes the marginalized, deprived, exploited and oppressed sectors of the society have been fighting for. From various congregations they found themselves into a relatively solid aggrupation in 1983 known as the Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN) that until today they have increased not only in number but in taking actions with and for the people. Let us take a gaze of one of them.

Sr Mary Antonietta Go, rgs is one of the nuns visible in the social movement in the country. She is remembered as she succumbed to a pancreatic cancer last February 4, 2015. Sr Tonette, as she was fondly called by local social activists, was a consistent and untiring partner in the work with women, women from the basic sectors-lumads, Moro, peasants, workers, students, children and urban poor.

She represented the women religious as Executive Secretary of SAMIN since 1993 to mid-2006 in all issues and concerns affecting and influencing women and their communities. She was with Gabriela-Davao Region Council in 1998 when the Purple Rose Campaign was launched as an anti-sex trafficking in women advocacy-campaign. She assumed tasks in the women’s movement in Mindanao as a concerned religious and as organizationally representing SAMIN since her assignment.

Every time there was a burning women issue Sr Tonette would ask, what could SAMIN do? And then with enthusiasm she saw to it that SAMIN had a say on it by immediately consulting SAMIN Executive Committee towards issuing a statement reflecting its perspective as a group of concerned women religious especially when controversial cases of violence against women arose. Appreciatively, SAMIN assisted the local actions of women in almost all issues of the people for it believes that people’s issues are women issues and women issues are people’s issues that nuns of conscience need to tackle.

Prominently, Sr Tonet’s love of God was expressed through her direct engagement with the communities- be they women, children, peasants, lumads, Moro, workers or urban poor. There were times that her mere physical presence was already a striking contribution, uplifting the morale of the people struggling for a just peace. She may not be conscious that she made her presence strongly felt in every activity she was into.

As a low-key personality, she made things simple yet meaningful. She displayed creativity in things she did with the people’s organizations as the latter too learned to utilize indigenous materials and seize every moment to project the local issues disturbing their lives.

Women are known for keenness on details. And so was Sr Tonette. She was a figure who managed to see the minute details one normally takes for granted.

A simple person yet thinking and acting big as she joined the people’s movement for social transformation, Sr Tonette will surely be missed by the community organizations she had dealt with in their challenging moments. Indeed, she was with the poor, as Pope Francis calls it, going to the periphery. Truly, Sr Tonette’s actions approximated Pope Francis teachings as enshrined in Vatican 2. A mnemonic of her name may help in remembering her.

T -thoughtful to the call for social transformation
O-organized in daily routine and people’s actions
N-non judgmental yet projected nationalist stance
E-eager to be involved in societal concerns
T-total commitment and dedication to God and the struggling people

As February 14, 2015 is set by women globally as a day of action for revolution, Sr Tonet would be in a space spiritually rejoicing in counting how many women she had assisted, from peasant, lumad, Moro and worker’s communities in their quest for social justice and liberation as women. May her prayers for a just peace in Philippine society echo boldy as the Mamasapano clash survivors’ healing process lengthens.

comments powered by Disqus