by Ingrid Calapit
“Memory is woman.” This is Jaja Arumpac’s response to the question if her film is a feminist one.
The film showing, “War is A Tender Thing” followed by a forum led by women’s advocates at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street is organized by Gantala Press with support of Babai women’s network as women’s groups continue to call for peace and justice in Marawi.
Women’s groups Feminista PH, Filipina Pen & Ink, Jovenes Foundation and Gabriela Network of Professionals (GNET), all members of Babai women’s network, an independent and self-organised network of individuals and women’s groups led this call.
Laoanen which consists of discussions by women from different disciplines wishes to shed light on the ongoing conflict in Marawi and extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Atty. Nash Marohomsalic, a Maranao human rights advocate and lawyer shares the different powers and limitations of Pres. Duterte in declaring Martial law and how “seeming conditions” in Marawi and the “new forms of rebellion in Mindanao is enough in creating necessary conditions to declare martial law.”
She shares how other political clans and Maranao families could have easily defeated the Maute. “They were not strong and did not have enough arms. Yet, the government continued with airstrikes despite the fact that the Maute has already retreated to to just one part of the city.”
Atty. Nash shared how the premise of declaring Martial Law is dangerous as it only needs one uprising of a certain group such as Maute for it to be declared as thus.
Samira Gutoc, a Maranao leader who has worked as a journalist, activist, legislator and now spokesperson of the Ranao Rescue team responding to the Marawi siege shared in an interview how their cultural rights are being disrespected, how children, women, lgbt continue to be victims of this war.
“Where are the prayer spaces for more than 1000 people in evacuation centers in Iligan? We need prayer, that is the only solace, “ she lamented.
“To the Mindanao Congressmen, if you value your mothers the way we value our mothers: Martial Law meant that you’ll have more babies dying, more women unveiling, removing their cultural rights in their bodies, in their mindsets – spiritually, emotionally, because Martial Law does not look at these intangibles.”
Dr. Grace Brillantes-Evangelista, a clinical psychologist with a history of working with people with trauma and mental health shares how heavy the discussion is, further commenting how “This is what war do to us.”
She shared her study with Internally Displaced Peoples in Leyte who was displaced in the outskirts of Manila and states that several years after, the effect of war is still the same.
“The main enemy here is the war. How do we move forward when we are in the depths of war?” She continues to discuss how the crisis in Marawi is not an isolated case but a war that is global in scale.
Dr. Grace stressed the need for psychosocial service in Marawi and how to help the victims move forward with what they have.
The forum ends with Kristine Valerio, development worker and sociologist discussing how “all forms of collective and individual violence are gendered processes and that conflict dynamics influence and recreate masculinities and perpetuate women’s disadvantage.”
Kristine discusses how women are disproportionately affected by war and how violence and war is present even in women’s “familiar daily routine”.
“We are being desensitized from war and social injustice. Babai calls not only for tactical relief but awareness raising and social justice.”
Laoanen ends with an invitation to participants to be part of continuing efforts and initiatives for Marawi and to hold the government into account through these discussions in ending the culture of violence and impunity.
A coalition of women’s organisations and individuals that are committed to helping displaced women in Malawi through information and fundraising drives. Follow: https://www.facebook.com/babaiformarawi/
Faye Cura (Gantala): +639175441431
Ingrid Calapit (Filipina Pen & Ink): +639491366943
Filipina Pen & Ink is organising an iteration of Laoanen in the University of the Philippines Diliman in October. Stay tuned for more updates.