The MIMAROPA Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC), in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women, held the Spoken Word Poetry Session: Mga Tula ni WonderJuana at SuperJuan on March 26, 2021, via Zoom and Facebook Live, as part of its 2021 National Women’s Month celebration (NWMC).

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The activity showcased personally written poems of 12 selected RGADC members and representatives from state universities and colleges (SUCs). The poems highlight the roles and contributions of women during the pandemic as well as men’s efforts on the redistribution of the unpaid domestic work.

In her opening remarks, PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine E. Yuzon-Chaves emphasized that the impact of pandemic is never the same for men and women and that women’s participation and leadership in all spheres of life, including high level decision-making processes at the national, regional, and local levels, should be relentlessly and significantly pursued.

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Similarly, Regional Development Council Vice-Chairperson and National Economic and Development Authority MIMAROPA Regional Director Susan A. Sumbeling highlighted in her opening message how the pandemic brought both challenges and opportunities to women and how the 2021 NWMC serves as a platform to recognize women’s participation in fighting against the impact of the pandemic.

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Among the performers were Dr. Merian P. Catajay-Mani, Romblon State University President; Atty. Suzette Gannaban-Medina, Department of Education MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director; Atty. Joselito C. Alisuag, Commission on Higher Education MIMAROPA Regional Director; and Dir. Wilhelm M. Suyko, Department of Interior and Local Government MIMAROPA Regional Director.

The seven students from the SUCs who shared their written poems were Ms. Jazel O. Lampa from Occidental Mindoro State College, Ms. Lois Margery M. Medina from Palawan State University, Mr. Shermen Monterde from Western Philippines University, Ms. Charmaine L. Magalang and Mr. Jayran Largado from Marinduque State College, and Ms. Christine Joy L. Navales and Mr. Cedric Errol A. De Guzman from Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology. Mr. Villy Joe A. Lucas, instructor from Romblon State University was also one of the performers.

The poems of the female participants were aligned with #WonderJuana, a campaign of PCW, about an inspiring “Juana” who was able to hurdle the challenges of pandemic and empower others to be hopeful. In their poems, participants emphasized the various roles a woman plays during this pandemic, her abilities and good character, and her continuing struggle for her rights, among others.

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Meanwhile, male participants stressed in their #MySuperJuan poems the men’s role and stories in doing unpaid domestic work, as well as their call for recognition of everyone’s rights, regardless of gender. All of them highlighted the resilience of women particularly as they face the challenges brought by the pandemic.

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As one of the reactors during the session, RGADC Co-Chairperson Juvelyn V. Gumal-in said, “They have been speaking about women as prisoners of pandemic but they are also speaking about the sacrifices of a mother, a mother’s role, the agony of a mother, but despite of all these things, Juana is more than a sufferer. They are fighters!” Ms. Gumal-in also highlighted how RGADC and its partners can bring hope to the life of women and enable them to have a brighter future.

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Ms. Josephine B. Macalagay of the Department of Social Welfare and Development also served as one of the reactors during the event. She expressed appreciation to the performers who highlighted the bayanihan and resilience of every Juana and Juan despite the pandemic crisis.

Ms. Macalagay also delivered the closing remarks on behalf of RGADC Chairperson and DSWD MIMAROPA Regional Director Fernando R. De Villa, Jr. The message pointed out the importance of convergence among various stakeholders in MIMAROPA to strengthen the development advocacy not only for women but also for the needy families.

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A total of 87 participants from the RGADC member agencies and organizations and students and faculties of SUCs participated in the event via Zoom. More attendees joined and watched the poetry reading session via Facebook Live. The poets were awarded with certificates of appreciation and simple tokens for their participation.