Awardee Maricar Taino with Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro, Jr.
AS a man, I’m opening this week’s column with a protest.
But, a male essayist already answered my protest, “We don’t have a Men’s History Month because we don’t need one.”
It’s “Women’s History Month.”
An author said that the greatest motivating force in men are women.
I believed that until I became a widower.
The late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago wrote in her joke book “Stupid is Forever” a funny but, oftentimes, true without saying, about a wife who told her husband the first night of their honeymoon, “From now on, I will go my way. And you will go my way.”
USA Today came up with a list of amazing women for 31 days of March.
Every day of the month brings women’s notable events, achievements, births and deaths.
Some notables included in the list are: Helen Keller, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Grammy Award winner Karen Carpenter, Julia Roberts for being the first female actress to earn $20 million in one film, “Erin Brockovich,” former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
Even the debut of Barbie dolls on March 9, 1959 was in the list as a show of women empowerment.
Well, in our native country, there are also women notables and not so notables.
In the notables category, we have Gabriela Silang, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Helena Benitez, Cory Aquino, Justice Cecilia Munoz-Palma, Vice President Leni Robredo, among others.
You don’t want to know the not so notables, do you?
Going to our subject, in Jersey City, kicking off the month-long observance is an Awards Ceremony dubbed as “Women of Action.”
It was held on March 1 at its City Hall.
Each member of the City Council nominated two awardees.
There were 18 awardees.
One of them was a Filipina-American, Maricar Taino, President of New Jersey Philippine American Junior Chamber International.
She was nominated by Council President Rolando Lavarro, Jr.
According to her write-up, Maricar holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.
She works for the State of New Jersey Treasury as a Supervising Case Worker.
Prior to her current position, she was an Assistant Supervisor at the Asian American for Equality (AAFE, NY).
Maricar is a wife and mother of three children with strong ties to the Philippine community.
She is in the Board of Trustees of Jesus the Messiah International Ministries and in the Event Committee of PAFCOM.
In 2016, she was recognized for her service with a Write-Up Award from the Eastern Institute.
She was also recipient of the Jaycee Rookie of the Year award and an award for the Outstanding International Affairs Project: Mission to Learn both from the Junior Chamber International (JCI) of North Jersey.
This space congratulates Maricar Taino for her award.
Tough times for Duterte from two women
In the Philippines nowadays, two women have emerged as the brave critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The two are VP (according to my colleague, L.P. Pelayo, VP stands for “Very Pretty”) Leni Robredo and the now imprisoned Sen. Leila de Lima.
Vice President Robredo, in a recent speech at her alma mater (University of the Philippines), said the following, addressing Pres. Duterte:
“Mr. President, we call you to task. In behalf of the Filipino people, whose daily struggles are escalating, we ask you to focus on the war that really matters: the war on poverty. Our people are hungry, jobless and poor.
“Please use your leadership to point the nation towards respect for rule of law, instead of disregard for it; to uphold the basic human rights enshrined in the institution, instead of encouraging its abuse. Be the leader you promised to be, and stop the lies that are distorting the truth in our society today.”
Sen. de Lima was reported to have accused Mr. Duterte of being a “murderer” after a former Davao City policeman made an explosive expose on television that there was indeed a Davao Death Squad (DDS) and that the incumbent President, when he was mayor of Davao City, was allegedly the force behind the killings made by this group and who supposedly paid large sums of money after every successful mission to the DDS members.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes, another courageous critic of President Duterte, reportedly called the Chief Executive “plunderer and criminal,” supposedly for having a couple of billion pesos in a bank and for being allegedly behind the killings in Davao City when he was mayor.
Amnesty International, in a recent report on leaders (including Duterte) who disregard human rights and pass falsehoods as truths, said:
“Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs. Whether it is Trump, Orban, ErdokEndTableStringan or Duterte, more and more politicians calling themselves anti-establishment are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people.
“Today’s politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others, stripping away the humanity of entire groups of people. This threatens to unleash the darkest aspects of human nature.”
Examples are sweeping negative-laden generalizations of certain groups of people like when President Donald Trump referred to members of media as “the worst human beings on the face of the earth.”
Or, when President Duterte accused Catholic priests as “hypocrites.”
In a separate investigative report titled “License to Kill,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international group, said they believed that President Duterte could be criminally liable in an international court of law for the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Pres. Duterte replied saying “criminals have no humanity.”
(If I’m not mistaken, HRW referred to suspected criminals killed, not criminals per se.)
A survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that adult joblessness (in PH) increased by three million in the fourth quarter of 2016, or just a few months since President Duterte assumed office.
Yesterday, it was reported that the month of February 2017 was the worst performance month of Philippine stocks in the stock market.
I better stop here.
Lest, I’ll be accused of being a negativist.
That cannot be, three positivist Filipina friends in the community (they know who they are) encouraged me to be always on the positive side.
I agreed with them, but I told them in my work, I couldn’t be always on the positive side.
So, let me close by expressing my biggest disconcerting observation of recent developments in the native country.
It is the subtle change in the current democratic political system into the Chinese brand of communist state that Mr. Duterte seems to be implicitly demonstrating as he fast becomes a closer China ally and admirer.
My friend jokingly said that Mr. Duterte is the current ambassador of China in the Philippines.
I doubt if the professional Philippine military organization and the Filipino people will permit it to happen, if ever.
Otherwise, Filipinos here who are dual citizens might become Chinese citizens.
Happy Birthday to a fine woman, Dr. Linda R. Pelayo (pictured above), who just returned from a humanitarian and medical mission in the Philippines.
Likewise, Happy Birthday to another woman, a good friend and popular singer in our community, Michelle Michelle (pictured below).