Freedom fighters and justice seekers were the women I most witnessed and was with for a couple of hours in yesterday morning's International Women's Day celebrations.
At night, I was one of those who got glued and watched on TV the annual Bb. Pilipinas, where they showcased a crop of beautiful, statuesque, young women who are also, in their own ways, are wanting for "world peace."
It just struck me as contrasting how we Filipinas - and Filipinos - celebrated Women's Day.
For one, I didn't have a clear idea that we would be joining an anti-administration gathering and march - which pretty much characterized most of daily happenings here. But as a student of women and development work course from the state university, plus we're all women in the class, it was an occasion that we shouldn't miss. (Photo from AP)
But when it became clear to me yesterday morning that we're joining a rally - an anti-administration gathering at that - I felt I would be sticking out like a sore thumb.
Why? I don't have a clear stand on what's going on in this country - I watch, I read, I listen, but I hardly react, or even blog about the happenings here - and not that I'm expected to have a stand.
My world now is confined in juggling my brain, energy, effort, and time to the endeavors I'm into now - full-time work, sidelines, and studies. I always believe that if I'm responsible in fulfilling my duties, I'm already contributing to the society, no matter little, or impersonal at that it may seem. I'm working, I'm writing, somehow my writings are able to help or even inspire some, I'm also trying to be a responsible daughter and sister, and yes, I'm paying my taxes - taxes that I don't exactly know where they are going - considering all the spiderweb of corruption issues exposed now.
The last time I was pro-active in joining such demonstrations was in 2001, when that EDSA II culminated, toppled what was branded as a brief, corrupt administration, and installed to power one who was thought to be who would change the country for the better - the very person that's now being hurled by clamors to step down.
Yesterday, I tried to listen for the causes the women's groups representatives were airing on that makeshift stage in Mabuhay Rotonda - one of the favorite sites of socio-political gatherings. But more than the long messages, and the strong statements, I wondered if the occasion was held in a more fitting way, minus the political tone, it would have been better, and more celebratory, I supposed.
But the gathering was also one way to show that up to this day, women, of varying roles and status in society, are still actively seeking for equality, fighting for their rights, and rising up to the challenges. I believe though those can be done even without marching out to the streets and imbibing the murky political color that keeps this country to this low. For me, tt's just too tiring to hear and to watch both sides throwing angry statements in an attempt to win the sympathy of the millions of unsuspecting Filipinos who are all struggling to earn a living, eat a decent meal, and sleep the night away, and wake up to struggle to live again.
Above all this ranting, I wasn't able to march to Plaza Miranda in Quiapo since I got dizzy - I'm not really use to staying under the sun for too long, plus I didn't have much for breakfast yesterday - I asked my professor's permission if I could go ahead since my classmates were noticing I was getting pale already.
On my way home on a FX taxi, I just thought I'm not really meant to fight for my rights as a woman, the way those women are voicing their minds on major gatherings like that of yesterday - I know I'm doing my best to uplift myself, as an individual and as a woman, and that I know I'm working in my own little ways to achieve "world peace."
Putting intelligence first
More than a country that has a rich, political history, ours also is a country that's obsessed with beauty pageants, and last night was a witness to that.
Twenty-four candidates vied for the coveted Bb. Pilipinas Ms. World, Ms. Universe, and Ms. International crowns. The ladies exude confidence as they strutted their way to the ramp wearing the skimpy swimsuits and dazzling long gowns.
Then came the question and answer portion - which, as viewed last night, was a disappointment. Well, when former Ms. International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman outlined the criteria of choosing a Bb. Pilipinas titlist - intelligence came last in the list. So I guess it shouldn't be a big letdown for the audiences if their bets didn't do well in the Q&A portion of the pageant.
But still, these titlists will be representing the country in those international competitions. And more than the beauty and confidence and poise, they should at least be able to speak in simple, straight English (OK, maybe the newly-crowned Bb. Pilipinas-World just got too nervous, but still her reply "this was my family..." made my brother stepped out of the room while I flipped through another channel to avoid risk of nose bleeding - exaggerating about nose bleeding, hahaha). (Photo from Bb. Pilipinas Web site)
Thanks though that Bb. Pilipinas Charities are spending for the personality development training of these ladies, surely they'll improve in time for the competitions they'll be representing the country. But it's just worthy to note, that a beauty pageant like Bb. Pilipinas, regarded as a venue where the most beauteous and brightest of Filipinas, is seemingly now reduced to just a "beauty pageant." Bb. Pilipinas 2007 winners were deemed to be the all beauty and brains, and this year's winners were, well, again there's the training they'll undergo so....
Whenever occasions like these to talk about, like politics and beauty pageants, I smilingly remember the Q&A portion in the movie Miss Congeniality - that all beauty contestants answered "world peace" to "what's the most important thing our society needs?" Sandra's character answered differently: "That would be... harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. (Crowd got silent.) And world peace! (Crowd cheered). More than being funny, and as how the movie ended by Sandra's character saying she really do want world peace, yes, we do all want world peace - men and women alike - so, let's just all work for world peace, in our own means, be it joining a protest march, or joining a beauty contest.
(I'm babbling I think, but that's what my thoughts are now.)