PCW pays tribute to feminist, public servant Karina David

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) is one with the nation in mourning the passing of Karina Constantino-David to eternal life on May 7, 2019.  A staunch advocate for women’s rights and development, Constantino-David lived a full life we honor and celebrate.

Her demise was confirmed by her family in a statement released on May 8 which reads: “Much of her life was spent serving the Filipino people in her work as professor, activist, community organizer and public servant. She was a patriot in the true sense of word.” 

“As a professional, she was the epitome of discipline, intelligence and integrity; as a wife, mother and grandmother, she was the perfect example of patience, selflessness and unconditional love,” it added.

Early life

 Born to historian Renato Constantino, Constantino-David was a sociology professor at the University of the Philippines- Diliman. She also headed the Department of Community Development at the UP College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD). Immersed in social issues, she became one of the leading figures in the struggle against the dictatorship during Martial Law. Together with singer Becky Demetillo-Abraham as “Inang Laya”, the duo composed and sang consciousness-raising hits like “Babae,” “Babae Ka”, “Titser” “Awit ng Kapayapaan” and “Awit ng Isang Ina.” 

Government service 

With the change of government in 1986, Constantino-David began her journey in the public sector. She was appointed as the undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). She likewise chaired the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) from 1998 to 1999.  In 2001, Constantino-David was the chairperson of the CSC until 2008. Two years later, she was appointed as a trustee of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from 2010 to 2016.

 True feminist and patriot

 Constantino-David manifested her love for country and support for women’s human rights in various capacities. 

As CSC Chairperson, she championed the CSC resolution granting maternity leave benefits to women public servants regardless of marital status, Administrative Disciplinary Rules on Sexual Harassment Cases that penalizes peer-to-peer harassment, and the use of gender-fair language in government communications, among others.   

Before joining public service, she was involved in several non-government organizations.  She founded Harnessing Self-Reliant Initiatives and Knowledge (HASIK), an NGO involved in urban poor empowerment, gender development, protection of children and adolescents, and housing and livelihood projects. HASIK and then National Commission for the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) now PCW, partnered to conduct Gender Sensitivity Trainings for government employees and pilot Gender Seminars for Men.  

Constantino-David was NCRFW consultant in crafting the Philippine Development Plan for Women (1989-1992) and the long-term Philippine Plan for Gender Responsive Development (1995-2025).

 “The PCW pays tribute to Chairperson Karina David, a smart and caring mentor, a feisty feminist-activist, a noble and principled public servant.  Her creative Gender-Sensitivity Training (GST) and anti-sexual harassment training modules eliciting manifestations of gender bias from the participants, opening their eyes to discrimination and abuse, and changing mindsets towards creating a more gender-fair, transformative and inclusive society have become institutionalized,” said PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa.

 “We thank Karina for her lasting legacy for the empowerment of women and the upliftment of the marginalized sectors in our society. She was truly an exemplar of an academic who broke the barriers of academic detachment and helped forge a better world for the Filipinos,” said Chairperson Rhodora M. Bucoy.

The PCW condoles with the bereaved family of Karina Constantino-David. Her efforts to advance women’s rights and her timeless music that helped liberate many lives will never be forgotten and will always remain in our hearts.

 She is survived by her husband UP professor emeritus Randy; their children Carlos Primo, Kara, Nadya, and Jika; and their grandchildren Julia, Jacinta, Xavier, Alonso, and Lila.