Women’s Month inspirations
Many features of this year’s Women’s Month celebrations will remain in my heart and mind. In the launching program hosted by the Cebu Provincial Women’s Commission, there was the the very inspiring story of Raquel T. Choa. Life in the countryside with her grandparents acquainted her with the cacao. In the mountains of Balamban where food was simple and limited, her grandmother always provided a cup of sikwate which nourished her for the day in school. After many years, she had met a woman from Argentina who was very proud of the products of her country. So Raquel searched for a Philippine product she could talk about with pride; she found this in chocolate, in our cacao. So the dream of making the Philippine chocolate the most special, and unique in the whole world began. In her words: “THE CHOCOLATE CHAMBER is an endless pursuit of chocolate distinction.
Learning the art of chocolate-making from my grandmother in my childhood years, I embark on a journey that is full of discovery as I hold dearly the lessons of the past while looking forward to the remarkable chocolate experience.”
In a second session with Sa Mata sa Kababayen-an, Raquel presented cacao as an effective beauty enhancer for Filipinas who are brown skinned.
Cocoa butter was demonstrated as a natural organic foundation which also served as moisturizer. Chocolate has been used as shampoo which also served as jell. It can also be a lip coloring that serves as a subtle lip gloss and moisturizer. I loved that because I tend towards browns for makeup. Her daughter modeled Raquel’s wedding dress, which became an elegant off-white gown with the use of cacao staining. We were also informed of the soothing effect of cocoa used for massage because of its serotonin ingredient. In her explorations, Raquel has creatively used various parts of the cacao plant as accessories, and even its leaves have been made into wrappers.
After the show, my sister Lolet and I talked about how in our childhood we always had a cup of chocolate at breakfast. Our brother Dongie would have a headache without that cup. But I recalled too that whenever I got sick, I would always ask for kinutil: chocolate with egg beaten and mixed in. When we were companions in the nationalist movement, Piang’s mother would serve us thick chocolate together with dinner.
The thoughts of Celia Flor on women in politics were quite provocative. As a pioneer woman in Negros politics, she discussed the obstacles involved.
One woman’s husband threatened separation if she would go into politics. She said it was easy to talk about it in speeches, but very few would really make the effort. The first time she ran, she campaigned on a platform on the protection of women against all forms of violence and the big gap between the rich and poor in our country. This was a message she repeated in all the barangays of the local government. At the end, a partymate called her to say: Do you realize that you are talking about me? So in her inspirational speech, she sought to create the shift from viewing politics as dirty and opportunistic to a means of bringing about radical changes into our political life; to view voting as a sacred responsibility, a prayer.
So I feel sure we will succeed in “Making Change Work for Women” because many of us have been responding to the call of loving by working for the empowerment of women. We will also keep on, not give up. The next generation is being nurtured into this awareness. In fact, for the “One Billion Rising” activity, we not only danced our refusal to remain enslaved, exploited, discriminated and victims of violence. The young Gabriela member actually explained in “Sa Mata sa Kababayen-an” that the violence has structural roots; that to end all the various forms of violence, we have to consistently exert efforts to uproot these structural roots. So The Legal Alternatives for Women Center continues to educate the victims of violence as well as many women in the barangays who will then actively support women as they struggle through their victimization. Carmelita, who had been a victim of physical, psychological and economic violence, has developed into an empowered woman, an active and even awarded woman paralegal barangay volunteer assisting other victims of violence.
In Our Lady of Joy Learning Center, we also provide times of reflection for young students to realize the obstacles preventing women from fulfilling their dreams. We asked them to read about valiant women. For the Asian Civilization, we watched the film on the newly canonized Mother Teresa. We opened classes to celebrate International Women’s Day with a song for Mary. Soleil Villacastin Maghuyop was very moving as she sang very soulfully the Magnificat.
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