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    Angat Bayi Political Empowerment Fellowship Program Course 2 Online Launch

    Angat Bayi Political Empowerment Fellowship Program Course 2 Online Launch

    The New Face of Leadership


    Thank you very much. Ambassador Peter MacArthur, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines; Congresswoman Malou Acosta-Alba; Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles, Director of the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies; Dr. Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of the Philippines; Mr. [Fernand] Vincent Hermoso, Coordinator for Online Learning of the Angat Bayi Project; my dear fellows; resource speakers and peer mentors; guests; local officials who are with us this afternoon: Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat!

    It has been six months since we started the second wave of Angat Bayi Political Empowerment Fellowship Program. Parang napakatagal na panahon na. Nitong June lang, nagkaroon tayo ng pagkakataong  magkumustahan online. Ngayon naman, with the pandemic still putting physical gatherings on hold, nandito pa rin tayo – finding creative ways to meet, to connect, and learn from each other. Pinapatunayan ninyo: Wala talagang makakapigil sa kababaihang gustong iangat ang kapwa nila babae – women leaders like you, especially, who step up to the plate as we face these uncertain times. Despite the challenges, you persevere. Ginagawa ang kayang gawin. Pinupunan ang kayang punan. At tinutulungan ang kayang tulungan.

    Ito ang ipinapakita ninyo sa amin, and it is the kind of leadership that we need today – one that is competent and compassionate; that empowers and nurtures, listens and empathizes; that constellates and collaborates, and strives to move forward despite adversity.

    Noong magkakasama tayo noong February, I spoke to you about the greatest challenge before us: Kung paano natin maita-translate sa ground ang mga pinaglalaban at pinaniniwalaan natin. Kung paano natin maaabot ang pinakamaliliit nating mga kasama, at maramdaman nilang kasali sila sa usapan. Na walang naeetsa-puwera, at para sa kanila mismo itong mga espasyong binubuo natin.

    None of us expected to be tested this intensely in the time of COVID-19. There is no surprise, however, that each of you rose to the occasion, rolled up your sleeves and got to work. You found ways around the obstacles; and quickly adapted to the crisis, shifting meetings and operations online, finding ways to implement policies and communicate with the public. You made sure that the communities were well-informed, even reaching those that had no access to Internet or gadgets.[1]

    These extraordinary times ask so much of us, and yet, you faced these challenges head-on. You showed us that leadership is about hard work and consistency. It is about facing each day with grit, and focus, and resolve. It is about reflecting compassion for others through service.

    Just last Tuesday, I talked a bit about this, noong launch ng Jesse M. Robredo Institute for Leadership and Good Governance. Sabi ko, maraming mahuhusay—maraming aral, maraming naiintindihan ang concepts and processes. Pero hindi lahat may instinct para dito sa trabahong ginagawa natin. By instinct, I don’t mean something that people are born with, or something that a few select people innately have that others don’t.

    By instinct, I mean something that has become second nature to us. At paano naa-acquire ‘yun? This instinct for service, for knowing what needs to be done on the ground—is achieved through constant exposure, constant practice, constant engagement with the faces of the people we are serving. Parang muscle memory siya. And like all positive loops, the more you do it, the more you get a handle on it. Empathy, I believe, is spiritual muscle. At mahirap siyang dayain — hindi siya namamadali, we cannot rush it, at hindi siya madadaan sa pagbabasa lang o aral, or sa experience ng pag-upo sa harap ng computer or sa meetings or sa loob ng aircon rooms. It means constant vulnerability — it means listening and feeling what you listen to, and keeping our hearts open by default.

    This is the path that many of you choose to take, at sobrang grateful kami dahil habang ginagawa namin ang trabaho namin, nakikita namin how the center of gravity for service and compassion is likewise expanding.

    Alam naman ninyo na maliit lang ang opisina namin, pero never na ginawa naming dahilan para hindi makapagtrabaho ng maayos. Pinipilit naming gawin ang makakaya dahil kailangan. We know that our people, look to us to ease their burdens, in whatever way we can. The way we respond to this is that we look for people, we look for organizations, who are willing to help, to lend their skills or resources. And yet, ang pinaka-gratifying: Hindi tumitigil doon ang paglawak ng saklaw ng malasakit. You yourselves have looked for others to join in the struggle, to help build paths. Instead of finding people who will merely follow us, we found something much better: People who are willing to lead with us.


    Kasi, di ba, itong ginagawa natin, ito naman mismo ang ibig sabihin ng pagiging lider? Ang paghanap ng paraan at pagharap sa mga pagsubok; ang pagsulong kahit na maraming panganib. Ang paggawa ng tama maski sa maliliit na desisyon; ang pagtuon ng ating mga kilos patungo sa kapakanan ng ating kapwa, lalo na sa mga pinakanangangailangan.


    Humugot, at patuloy tayong humuhugot, ng lakas sa isa’t isa. Always, we look around us and find strength in numbers—strength as more of us find solutions, more of us to take action. Sapul na sapul talaga ang pangalan ng Angat Bayi—lahat nakikibitbit, lahat umaangat.


    Padayon lang tayo. With COVID-19 still threatening the lives of our people, the issues of gender and women empowerment should not take a backseat. Iba man ang konteksto natin ngayon, the task at hand is still the same, paminsan nga mas mabigat: We need to find and reach out to the last, the least and the lost of our sisters – empower and inspire them, so that they can do the same for others.


    Now that we’re launching Course 2 of the program through the web learning platform, we hope that this will equip you to find even more cutting-edge, radical ideas, to open new pathways to make the best use of the tools at our disposal. To ask questions that challenge the way things are, hindi nakukuntento sa status quo or the ways things have always been done. To find the gaps and fill them. And to pull together and do what we can, here and now. Sobrang exciting at sobrang excited ako sa kaya pa nating gawin, lalo na dahil siguradong dadami pa tayo, at lalalim pa ang kakayahan natin, sa launch na ito.


    So congratulations to the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UP CWGS) and the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. (UP CWSFI) for launching this online course of the Angat Bayi Political Empowerment Program. And of course, to Ambassador Macarthur and to our partners from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) of the Embassy of Canada, thank you very much for your constant support.


    To all our fellows, sana hindi kayo mawalan ng pag-asa. Sana hindi magsawa sa paninilbihan. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!


    [1] Rappler. July 11, 2020. How to fight the pandemic: Women mayors don’t sugarcoat how deadly the virus is.

    Posted in Speeches on Aug 20, 2020