More than 10k participants celebrate ‘Juana’s’ resilience, strength

A total of 10,168 participants from government agencies, non-government organizations, state colleges and universities and other civil society groups converged on March 8 to celebrate the International Women’s Day at Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

The gathering, dubbed as the “Sulong Juana! Human Woman Symbol Formation” and led by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), is a symbolic kick-off activity to celebrate women’s resilience, strength and women’s various roles in nation-building and their untiring participation as volunteers in times of disasters, conflicts, calamity and any other situations.

In her opening remarks, PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa emphasized that women’s resilience is not limited to being strong but also in the way how “Juanas” embody optism, patience, fortitude, and compassion for others.

PCW Executive Director Emmeline Verzosa delivers her welcome remarks

“Ating kilalanin at pasalamatan ang mga ‘Juana’ na nagbibigay liwanag sa panahon ng krisis, kalamidad, kahirapan, o kahit sa anumang ordinaryong kalagayan. Ang pinagsamang galing, talino, malasakit, at integridad ni ‘Juana’ ay iilan lamang sa nagpahanga ng buong mundo at nagpatunay na hindi kayang maitumba ng anumang pagsubok ang sama-samang lakas ng mga Pinay.” (Let us recognize and thank every woman who became the light in times of crisis, calamity, challenges, and any other situations. The concerted efforts, compassion for others and integrity of women are just a few of the characteristics which the whole world admires).

Verzosa added the celebration is not simply a show of force but a way to enjoin other countries in upholding women’s rights.

“Today, March 08, 2014, we are making history or rather herstory! We will show the world that ‘Juanas’ are united, strong and resilient.”

Concerted effort

The PCW, in partnership with local soft drink company’s 5by20 STAR program, plans to submit the entire documentation of this gathering to vie for a Guinness World Records (GWR).

According to GWR’s Alex Angert in his message to PCW, there is no existing record for the largest human formation of a gender symbol, although the Guinness website lists 10,563 people as taking part in a giant formation of a droplet in Haryana, India, in November 2013. Angert added that the PCW needs only 250 participants in order to set a new record.

The symbol formation was made possible through the assistance of Department of National Defense (DND), through its Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), who served as the human outline of the formation.

The Army even dedicated a separate day to rehearse for the big event. “The record breaking activity is a mere reflection of Juana’s success in one endeavor. Truly we can do great things together,” said Major Ed Talaroc, the lead marshal from the AFP.

Aside from the assistance of DND, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also contributed a major role in ensuring that the requirements of GWR will be met.

“We at the MMDA take pride in supporting the Philippine Commission on Women in its mission to empower the women and mainstream the sector in governance, in economic, social and cultural pursuits,” said MMDA Usec. Corazon Jimenez.

GAD budget

As she emphasized that the celebration is not ending in this woman symbol formation, PCW Chairperson Remedios I. Rikken said that the collective participation of all government agencies to provide equal opportunities for women is crucial in this advocacy.

Chairperson Remedios Rikken gives her inspirational message

“Lahat tayo ay may pakialam lalo na sa pagtigil ng karahasan sa mga kababaihan. Bawat isa ay may dapat gawin para masolusyunan ito (Everyone has a part in ending violence against women. We should take part to eliminate VAW),” she said.

Rikken, one of the country’s forerunner of women’s rights, added that the commission is ardent in monitoring all government agencies in their respective use of Gender and Development (GAD) budget.

“Katulong natin ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno at babantayin natin ang paggamit nila ng GAD budget para sa mga pangangailangan ng mga kababaihan (Government agencies are helping us in our advocacy and the commission will ensure that their respective GAD budget will be utilized in heeding the plight of women).”

The PCW, the national machinery for gender equality and women’s empowerment, is the oversight agency which monitor the use of the GAD budget across all government agencies including local government units, state colleges and universities and government-owned and controlled corporations.