May 7 2011


Reference: Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi Convenor (0917-5003879)



“We are mothers and we are human rights defenders.”

Thus said the mothers from various walks of life, who gathered today at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, for an alternative celebration of Mothers’ Day. With the theme “Mother, Defender: Pagpupugay sa mga Ina na Nagtatanggol ng Karapatang Pantao,” the event brought together women united by the common call for justice and defense of human rights.

“What made this day special and relevant is the unity of women human rights defenders, who are mothers, that springs from the aspirations for a just and humane society for their children and for theInang Bayan. Mothers bear the brunt of the daily woes of the family, with the burgeoning impact of landlessness, unemployment and lay-offs, high prices of basic commodities, low wages and violation of their rights under the Aquino administration. Today, they go out of their homes to speak about their role as women human rights defenders, and their aspirations through testimonies, songs, and dance,” said Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi.

Among the mothers who gave testimonies were Mrs. Beth Calubad, a mother and wife of disappeared; Ms. Sally Reyes, mother of slain activist and Brgy. Capt. Kenneth Reyes; and Mercy Castro, a community health worker and among the Morong 43 who was pregnant at the time of the arrest, as well as mothers from the urban poor, workers, overseas Filipino workers, community health workers, teachers, church workers and law students.

The event utilized playback theater, a form of interactive non-scripted theater, seen by theater artists as a form of applied theater that “provides individuals and communities a method of telling and listening to stories of human experience. After the mothers relate their experiences as human rights defenders, poetic performances, which include dances and songs, were conducted by young artists. The event was capped by a symbolic offering of fans for the mothers.

Palabay also recognized the courage of the mothers of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, who recently filed criminal charges against Gen. Jovito Palparan for the rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention and other cases of their daughters.

“Many of the women human rights defenders are wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of those who were victims of extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances, illegal detention and other rights violations. Despite the anguish they feel in knowing the brutalities their loved ones experienced, they were not cowed into silence and inaction. They took up the cudgels for the fight for human rights,” she commented.

“These especially represent the ever alive and burning passion of mothers to serve not only the intimate circle of one’s family but encompassing the community they belong to, and thereby promote and defend human rights,” Palabay said. ###



About Tanggol Bayi

Established in 2008, Tanggol Bayi is an association of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Philippines. It is formed primarily for the recognition, advancement, and protection of the rights of women human rights defenders who are advocating for the realization of human rights.
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