International Women’s Day: Filipina Images Celebrates Babae Ka
March 8, 2010 is International Women’s Day, “a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.”
For the Filipina who wakes up early in the morning to prepare for the food she will sell at a community market in the outskirts of Cagayan de Oro City, or for the Filipina mom blogger who takes the time to write about her passions before she starts her day, and for countless Filipina women who are toiling in farm lands, factories, hospitals, offices, or homes around the world — this is A VERY ORDINARY DAY.
“International Women’s Day” hasn’t really caught up with the sugar-dripping greeting cards for “Mother’s Day” or “Valentine’s Day.” Yet, there are a few companies that are positive about the future of a more commercialized “Women’s Day.”
Celebrating this ordinary day allows us to take our virtual stethoscopes and feel the heartbeats of Filipina women and men who support a political party in the Philippines that is “for women, by women, and of women.”
The Facebook description stated: “If elected, BABAE KA could make a difference by bringing direct services to its constituents at the grassroots level, and mobilizing the women sector in productive and constructive activities that would contribute to nation building and development.”
The phrase “Babae Ka!” a.k.a. “You are Woman!” or “You are a Filipina Woman!” sounds like a “Stand up and be counted!” battle cry. Perhaps it is. Reminiscent of Helen Reddy’s warrior song, “I am Woman!” — the call for Filipina women everywhere to celebrate their dignity, their pride, and their leadership is truly compelling.
Benjamin Pimentel, a Filipino American journalist from the San Francisco Bay Area, serendipitously posted a Youtube video today of the late Susan Fernandez Magno, a Filipina singer-songwriter, activist and academic who was “top-of-mind” for her protest music. The song had a folksy beat and bittersweet, poignant lyrics. The song’s title: “Babae Ka.”
Yesterday, over the phone, when I listened to a dear friend’s experiences as a volunteer in this for-real grassroots campaign among the Filipina street vendors, homemakers, students, and community organizers for “Babae Ka,” a women’s political party in the Philippines that is participating in the party-list election system, I was in awe of her bravery and courage. My friend confirmed that people in the cash-strapped barangays (villages) in the Northern Luzon region of the Philippines were savvy about asking for money to ensure their loyalty and their votes. However, their group’s valiant stand against vote-buying won the hearts of very ordinary people, very ordinary voters. I was touched by the email she sent me so I could, in turn, email my friends. My friend emphasized, “Contact us through Facebook at BABAE KA.”
I continued to read what they had to say in their Facebook group page.
“Babae para sa Kaunlaran or BABAE KA has evolved from being a cause-oriented civil society organization at the time it was organized in early 2005 to a comprehensive women’s political party.
Initially named as Kababaihan para sa Inang Bayan or Kababayan, the organization first focused its efforts in the delivery of basic services to poor and needy communities thru medical and dental missions, livelihood projects, skills trainings, counseling, social and political awareness discussions and similar socially relevant programs.
The decision to convert the organization into a women’s political party and participate in the party-list election system stemmed from the realization that the sector needs genuine representation in the House of Representatives with the foremost aim of helping stir the country towards attainable progress and development.”
Taking a cue from the flier about the Babae Ka platform that I received via email, their “pet bill” on Equal Employment Opportunity was something I had been waiting for.
Equal Employment Opportunity, BABAE KA’s pet bill
By BABAE KA Partylist (from Mielin Medalla)
If you are a woman or a man and looking for a job, you will always see in the advertisements, “female, 20 to 35 years old” or “male, 25 to 40 years old” as one of the qualifications. Not anymore, that is if the proposal of women’s party-list Babae para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka) will be enacted by the 14th Congress of the Philippines.
This proposed law will make it unlawful for any employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age, gender and religion.
To be patterned after the Age Discrimination in Employment of 1967 that was enacted by the United States Congress, even the printing of any employment advertisement that will tend to be discriminatory to age, sex and religion shall be unlawful in this proposal.
I understand that there are many party lists that are jockeying for more funding, more supporters, and more visibility. If you’re a group like Babae Ka who is doing its best to be involved with issues, not personalities, then you have my attention.
Mabuhay, Babae Ka!
I decided to share what Babae Ka’s grassroots campaign is all about.
Official Website: http://babaekapartylist.tripod.com/
Update as of May 5, 2010:
I asked one of the members of Babae Ka, via Facebook email, what some of Babae Ka’s achievements are.
Here is the reply:
1. We’ve already facilitated free cataract operations with more than 100 beneficiaries;
2. Facilitated medical-dental missions with more than 10,000 beneficiaries;
3. Assisted numerous women cooperatives in getting soft loans;
4. College scholarship for 50 deserving students