• Sulu pays tribute to local women in peace development

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Hundreds of people have joined the celebration of the Women’s Month in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said.

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    The activity was led by provincial officials headed by Gov. Totoh Tan and Vice Gov. Sakur Tan and members of the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council and representatives of various government agencies.

    The celebration dubbed with this year’s theme “Indah, ang tatag mo ay tatag natin sa pagbangon at pagsulong,” kicked off with a motorcade around the capital town of Jolo. And it was followed by a program and induction of officers of the Municipal Women’s Council and the awarding of the “Search for the Cleanest and Greenest Barangay” in Jolo town by Vice Gov. Sakur Tan.

    “It is only proper to give tribute to this month because women has become an important, if not the predominant sector of the global population,” he said, adding “In a larger sense, it must be stressed that we are gathered here not only because we recognize women’s predominance in the statistics of gender population, but because of the sweeping social transformation undergone by global societies on the matter of dealing with gender issues.”

    Vice Gov. Sakur Tan also cited the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council for its active role in the protection of women and their welfare.

    “The Sulu Provincial Women’s Council as a nongovernmental organization for the protection and welfare of the women has exceeded the prescriptive bounds of its sectoral mandate. And this is what I mean when I say that woman is the heart of the society. She is a feeling that cannot help being expressed. In exceptional times, she does not discriminate. She reaches out to all victims regardless of gender, age and cultural differences. All in the name of service and humanity. At the risk of belaboring the point, we cannot help but salute all the women behind the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council for showing us what the full import of womanhood is all about,” he said.

    Hja. Nurunisah Tan, chair of the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council, also praised the local women for their hard work and role in peace and development efforts in the province.

    She said the celebration of Women’s Month pays tribute to the strong and resilient “Juanas” or “Indah” or women who brought inspiring changes in the country and across the globe. She said this year’s Women’s Month Celebration is the best time to highlight the “drivers of change” who untiringly volunteered themselves in times of disaster, conflict and calamity. The celebration, she said, recognizes the role of women in the rehabilitation process and their over-all contributions to progress.

    “From the Zamboanga crisis to the pork barrel scandal, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu, and the strongest typhoon history has ever recorded, and many disaster in other parts of the country, the Filipino spirit remains indomitable and unbowed.

    “Those words are indeed beautiful and apt and should inspire us to continue with our tasks without expecting anything in return. In Sulu, as much as I would want to see and relish the festivities relative to the celebration and commemoration of the Women’s Month, I cannot afford to keep my eyes shut nor turn a deaf ear to the trauma and sufferings the very sector of our society we are committed to safeguard and protect; the women and children who are held against their will by people whose motives are best known only to themselves,” she said.

    “The innocence of the children as they are held captives are diluted by the impurities of evil minds and intents. The vulnerability of women is abused and the sanctity of the family is desecrated when they are snatched by force and held in captivity under duress. We cannot sweep such things under the rug and pretend they are not happening. They are, and right before our very eyes. In times of tragedies, calamities and challenges, it has been tried and tested that pointing fingers and shifting blames will only worsen the situation. Instead, as women and mothers, they expect our people to act as one single family, bonded by common concerns, the primary of which is the safety of our homes and our children. Mangi’ tuud in parasahan bang kita ha laum buga’ na sadja laung nila misan in gumuwa bay na subay tutus in baran. In pag iskul sin manga kabataan na disturb na. We have to break the chains of fear and anxieties that are trampling on our rights. More than ever, the time is now when we must stand as one community and share in the responsibilities of keeping our neighborhood safe and secured. We cannot afford to rely solely on our security sector as their numbers are stretched to the limit; but we do expect them to be professional law enforcers and defenders of our people.

    Hja. Nurunisah Tan said despite all the negativities, the Sulu Provincial Council will not be deterred in its programs and plans in the service of the people. “We shall not allow anyone or anything to forcibly detour us from the path we have set our eyes on. We shall continue to work with the Sulu Provincial Government and the different agencies and departments to prevent any destabilizing attempts against our legal entities and the society in general,” she said.

    In his speech, Gov. Totoh Tan also praised the women in Sulu and their undying dedication in all the things they do—from raising their family to their role in community development—all without hesitation.

    “Amidst all these, our womenfolk in general, remained the heart, soul and conscience of the nation and the beacon guiding supportive and generous endeavors towards the sites of calamities and tragedies. The Sulu Provincial Women’s Council, and no less than Chairperson Hja. Nurunisah have crossed the seas to deliver assistance from Sulu for our brethren who are still housed at evacuation centers in Zamboanga City, victims of the bloody siege; managed and collected donations and reliefs for our fellow Filipinos whose lives and properties were devastated by the fury of another lady named Yolanda. It is but fitting therefore, that in more ways than one, we should show our appreciation and recognition of the services our Tausug women have rendered and are continuously rendering in selfless, humane, and compassionate concern for their fellow human being even far beyond our borders,” he said.

    He said this year’s celebration of Women’s Month and its theme alone underlines the role of women in rehabilitation efforts not only from calamities but from social problems that beset our nation. He said in the Malay language or Bahasa Malaysia, “Indah” means beautiful, pleasing and attractive – it is an adjective that refers only to the female gender. He said the term aptly encapsulates the general traits of women that makes them so endearing to the eyes of the beholder.

    “The concerns of Sulu Provincial Women’s Council Chairperson Hja. Nurunisah Tan, which in her opening remarks on the anxieties and trauma parents and children are experiencing due to threats to the people’s safety and security, are valid concerns. We are certain that our security sector is doing its mandated duties and responsibilities to restore sobriety and order especially at times like these. Let us go with our daily routines as normally as possible while at the same keeping presence of mind to discern on the ulterior motives of disinformation to cause panic and confusion which is the true intention of those who are out to terrorize the innocent citizenry for their own selfish ends. Having said that, I hope the Sulu Provincial Women’s Council will continue to partner with the Sulu Provincial Government in its effort to reach many of our people in far-flung areas, especially the marginal and needy sectors of our society,” Gov. Totoh Tan said.

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