Vice President Leni Robredo paid tribute to “ordinary women, burnished to extraordinary greatness by the hardships they had to bear,” in a speech for International Women’s Day, March 8, that she posted on her Facebook page Wednesday.
“There is no better time for women to be alive, than today,” she began, noting that doors have opened up for Filipinas in government, business, media, non-profit organizations, and the academe.
“Filipinas continue to enjoy more civil liberties than most women around the world, and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men at home and in our place of work,” Robredo said.
She explained that the women of today owe it to both the women and men who came before them who let the world know “of the beautiful fire within a Filipina who is lighted up by her mission.”
Robredo recalled the names of some these women, such as Gabriela Silang, who fought and was feared by Spanish soldiers; Melchora Aquino or Tandang Sora, a single mother who took care not just of her children but of the Katipuneros; and Teresa Magbanua, the Visayan Joan of Arc and fought the Spanish, American, and Japanese colonizers.
At the same time, the Vice President remembered the women she met from the farthest and poorest barangays in the Philippines “who are no less fierce” than the historical figures she mentioned.
“Every day, they fight the tyranny of poverty, silently bear the secret oppression that comes from sexual and emotional abuse, stand up to misogynistic attacks, and proudly wear their scars from cyberbullying. They refuse to be defeated. And despite the continuous, arduous fight for their rights, they remain remarkably caring and creative, constantly calling a friend who needs a listening ear, or a colleague who needs logistic support, or a neighbor who is simply in desperation because of a busted pipe,” Robredo said.
Proof that “we Filipinas tend to shine in our darkest hours … and are thus meant for greatness even during challenging times,” she said, lay in Teacher Sabs, a teacher in Culiat Elementary School who had given up a promising career in medicine because she found where she was needed the most; Nanay Lorna, a turon vendor who sent four children to school who eventually became a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, and an Integrated Liberal Arts Medicine student, respectively; and Judge Ave, an orphaned child from Masbate who worked as a helper to support herself.
“These are ordinary women, burnished to extraordinary greatness by the hardships they had to bear. Look around you; there are many more like them,” Robredo said. “May you all continue to live with inspiration, empowered and empowering, every day of your lives. Happy International Women’s Day to all of you great women out there!”
Watch the Vice President’s speech below: