MANILA — The Philippines scores high in global surveys on gender equality. But some women there say the reports do not tell the whole story.

Women make up a quarter of Philippine elected officials in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Lawmaker Senator Grace Poe, 45, says it is an accomplishment she feels proud of.
"In terms of our neighbors here in Southeast Asia or even in the world, the Philippines - when it comes to women in leadership positions - is doing very well," said Poe.

And some international observers agree with the senator.
International surveys consistently rank the Philippines as the only Asian nation in the world's top ten for gender equality. The statistics reflect the high number of jobs that Filipino women hold in politics and management. The Southeast Asian state also wins praise for advancements in female education.

But some analysts say these figures do not paint a full picture of gender equality in the Philippines.
“My issue is that some very serious womens' issues that have to figure into gender equality standard are not there," said Carolyn Sobritchea, an anthropologist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. "There is so much domestic violence that is happening, there are women battered inside their homes, crimes that are committed against women, sex crimes that are not in the indicators, human trafficking not in the indicators."

Sobritchea adds that even though the Philippines has elected two female presidents, both came from powerful political families and did little to advance women’s causes.
Some students at Manila’s Miriam College say political dynasties make it hard for women from less privileged backgrounds to enter politics.

But 20-year-old Jelyn Torres says she still will give it a shot after she graduates.
“I want to be a good example, that women can do it, that women can serve, that women can do something for the betterment of the country and that women can make a difference," said Torres.
Torres and her classmates say despite what the surveys show, the Philippines still has a ways to go before it is fully gender equal.


THE exclusive all-girls’ school formerly run by American Maryknoll sisters secured funding from the United States government to train leaders among its students.

“There are traits particular to women that can help improve the quality of leadership in the Philippines, one of which is being more attuned or ‘sensitive’ to the needs of the people,” said Edizon Fermin, Miriam College High School principal, on the rationale of the project they call Cogent.

Fermin, however, didn’t disclose how much the school, which is gunning for university status, is getting from the United States Embassy.

Project Cogent (Collaboration For Girls’ Education, Nurturance and Training) is already on its second phase, targeting to have more women in the country’s political leadership, Fermin explained.

The project served as an incubation and launch period of the group Philippine Alliance for Girls’ Education (PAGE), a network of basic education schools that aims to empower girls and young women in nation-building and social transformation through systematized education program, according to Fermin.

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Students of Miriam College’s Leisure and Tourism Management bested 29 student competitors and landed in the top 6 in the National Tour Guiding Competition held at the Lyceum University of the Philippines last September 14.

Third Year student Annclairina Valdez, showcased her tour guiding and presentation skills during an impromptu walking tour of Fort Santiago. With Valdez were fellow LTM students Denise Lim, Averi Esquerra and Shannen Bermudo. The competition was joined by students from all over the country.

Miriam College recently received a given a grant from Children’s Hour for “Children’s Storytelling Hour”, an educational outreach program in Early Childhood Care and Development for teachers in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela City. This new partnership was sealed by the signing of a Grant Agreement last August at the latter’s office in Ayala Tower One, Makati.

Under the grant, Miriam College will conduct story telling session to promote the love for learning among children, enhance teachers’ skills in conducting storytelling sessions, provide children with educational kits, and strengthen the knowledge and skills of day care workers through teacher-training and mentoring.

In photo are (from left): Rose Bautista, Vice President for Development and Resource Management, Ma. Jamelia F. Villanueva, Executive Director of Growth, Upgrading and Resource Office of Miriam College,  Amb. Bienvenido A. Tan, Jr. Vice Chair of Children’s Hour Philippines and Evangeline T. Mayuga, Executive Director of Children’s Hour Philippines.

Photo by Iking Dalusong

Successful people spend a lot of time planning and thinking about who they are, what they want and where they want to be.  But then, there also comes a time when things unexpectedly and circumstances take him to a place where the seems he doesn't belong.

Jann Delgado is a perfect example of how the vicissitudes of life can shape one’s destiny. But much to her credit, Delgado, being a “cool” and savvy fresh graduate, eventually took charge of the series of events and changes in her life to make sure her story is worth telling, especially for those who are looking for direction and inspiration.

“I took up Behavioral Science in Miriam College then and I wasn't really expecting to work in the hotel industry. Normally, they expect you to work in the human resources department but I was just going around giving my résumé and they called me for an interview in the hotel; they didn't even tell me what the opening was,” Delgado recounted.

When she was told that she will serve as the executive receptionist to the general manager of the New World Makati Hotel (formerly the Renaissance Hotel), she confessed that she was not thrilled at all, knowing that she’s going to work behind a desk.

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September each year, Maryknoll/Miriam College’s beloved alumni get to visit their alma mater to have fun, catch up and build new memories in the very same school that shaped them. This year saw another wonderful celebration of the Grand Alumni Homecoming that was filled with stories—past and present.

Organized by the Maryknoll High School Class of 1988 together with the 2013 Jubilarians, this year’s celebration was aptly themed “Mga Kwentong MC Mula  Noon … Hangang Ngayon.” Every moment of the event was a reminder that there is much to celebrate in the school, starting with the awarding of this year’s Amazing Alumni Achievers. They are Philippine Ambassador to Ankara, Turkey Marilyn Alarilla, Assistant Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs Petronila P. Garcia, Filipino composer Maria Kristina Abad Santos-Benitez; Philippine Opera Company founder Karla Patricia Gutierrez and advertising executive Maria Victoria V. Yap.

The Center for Peace Education, International Studies Dept. and College of International, Humanitarian and Development (CIHDS) Studies co-organized a Forum on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons at the Miriam College last September 4.  CIHDS Dean, Dr. Carrie Tharan, welcomed the speakers and all those present. Dr. Loreta Castro of the Center for Peace Education and CIHDS professor gave an introduction to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons or ICAN which has taken the leadership in the effort toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC).  Dr. Castro explained that such weapons are so destructive to humanity and our planet and expressed the need for collaboration between civil society and government toward this goal.

The panel of speakers were Dr. Lenin Pascual, Philippine Representative to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), who spoke about the Health Consequences of Nuclear Weapons; Dr. Angelina Galang, a professor from the Environmental Studies Institute and the President of Green Convergence, who spoke about the Environmental Impact; and Mr. Raphael Formoso, Director for Political and Security Issues, Office of the UN and other International Organizations in the Department of Foreign Affairs, who presented the Philippine Position on the Nuclear Weapons Issue. He indicated that the Philippine government supports the call for the negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Last September 9, women leaders from Burma visited Miriam College to meet with the membersof Women Engaged in Action on 1325 to have a dialogue on the experiences of women in the formulation and implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325. The meeting started with the discussion on how the NAP was created. Its main components and action points were also discussed. WE ACT 1325 also shared the initiatives, projects and programs of the network and its individual members in implementing the NAP. During the open forum, the women talked about the challenges that they have encountered and how they responded to them.

Present during the meeting were Lalen de Vela of ISIS International Manila, Luz Martinez of the Social Work Department, Malou Tabios-Nuera of the Initiaives for International Dialogue, Karen Tañada of the GZO Peace Institute, Aurora De Dios of WAGI, Iverly Viar, Ana Natividad and Dr. Jasmin Nario-Galace of the Center for Peace Education.

Several Japanese NGOs organized and participated in a meeting in Tokyo to listen to experiences of women from other countries in relation to formulating and implementing National Action Plans (NAPs) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Jasmin Nario-Galace of the Center for Peace Education shared the advantages of developing a NAP as well as the challenges to making women count for peace.

The recent signing of the framework agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a significant step towards the realization of peace and security in Mindanao. At the same time, it also is an opportune moment to strengthen women’s involvement in mechanisms that would help ensure peace and stability in the region.

On June 27, 2013, the Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325), in partnership with Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), launched a program entitled “Women Working for Normalization.” Normalization a vital part in the peace process as it focuses on the restoration of normality, sustainable living conditions, livelihood and political participation of all stakeholders. The project would ensure the meaningful political participation of women in this decisive stage of the peace process.

The Center for Peace Education is Secretariat of WE Act 1325.

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