The University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies (UPCWGS), the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc., and the Angat Buhay: Partnerships Against Poverty program of the Office of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, with the support of the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives of the Embassy of Canada, launched the second Angat Bayi Women’s Political Empowerment Program.
The Angat Bayi Women’s Political Empowerment Program, which was piloted in 2018, is a comprehensive women’s political empowerment program that aims to contribute to the full, meaningful, and effective political participation of women towards a people-centered, rights-based, gender-responsive, participatory, empowering and sustainable development agenda.
The opening ceremony and welcome reception for the Angat Bayi program’s Fellows for 2020-2021 was held on February 19, 2020, at the Quezon City Reception House in New Manila. As with the first batch of 2018-2019, the Angat Bayi’s Fellows include women leaders from various levels of local governments and from various cities, municipals and provinces across the different regions of the Philippines. Under the program, they will undergo four days of intensive training in feminist and gender transformative leadership, including online courses, sessions with feminist leadership mentors, and insight-sharing from fellow women political leaders and past Angat Bayi Fellows.
Aside from the 21 new Angat Bayi Fellows, attendees included: UP System and UP Diliman officials; officials, former directors, researchers and staff of the UPCWGS; members of Vice President Robredo’s media and Angat Buhay project team; and, members of the media.
In her welcome message, UPCWGS Director and Angat Bayi Project Leader Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles explained the origins of the Angat Bayi program in UPCWGS’ gender consultant Maya Tamayo’s research on the country’s need for more progressive women leaders and the difficulty women face in running and getting elected into office. Through the UPCWGS, Tamayo’s dream became a full-fledged women’s political empowerment project through the support of the Canadian Embassy, the Office of the Vice President, and Certified-edu.net, which hosts the program’s online courses.
“We in UP, just like yourselves, are impelled to serve the people. Angat Bayi represents how we can effectively synergize theoretical perspectives and action. Collectively, we strive to work out how we can best deliver the development that our country desperately needs,” Verceles said.
UP officials who offered messages of solidarity, encouragement and inspiration for the 2020-2021 Angat Bayi Fellows included: UP Executive Vice-President Teodoro J. Herbosa, representing UP President Danilo L. Concepcion; UP Vice-President for Academic Affairs Ma. Cynthia Rose Bautista, whose speech was delivered by Director Verceles; and, Dr. Gonzalo A. Campoamor, the director of the Research Dissemination Office of the UP Diliman Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development, representing incoming UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo. Mr. Warren Mucci, Counselor for Political and Public Affairs of the Embassy of Canada, also expressed his government’s continuing support of the program, citing the Canadian government’s key foreign policy to advance gender equality from the national level to the grassroots level.
Vice President Robredo delivered the keynote message, noting that the job of a progressive feminist political leader was to promote interest in gender equality among their constituents. “Paano natin malo-localize? Paano natin mata-translate yong ating paniniwala in a way that yung pinakamaliit nating mga kasama, mararamdaman nila iyong importansya noong pinag-uusapan natin? Iyon ang challenge sa ating mga local officials. [How do we localize it? How do we translate our beliefs in a way that the least among our constituents will understand the significance of what we are saying? That’s the challenge for us local officials.]”
Robredo also emphasized the need to tackle the poverty, which is the root problem of the issues besetting women. “That’s what we’re doing under our Angat Buhay program. We find ways where we can help the poorest of the poor to be economically empowered,” she added.
The Angat Bayi Fellows for 2020-2021 are: City Councilor Rhaetia Marie “Sunshine” Carlos Abcede-Llaga of Lucena City, Quezon Province; City Councilor Aileen, Rhoda Itchon Acal of Candon City, Ilocos Sur; Municipal Councilor Louella Marie R. Agcaoili of San Mateo, Isabela; Municipal Mayor Ma. Rosario C. Avestruz of Cuta, Barugo, Leyte; Municipal Vice Mayor Precious Joy D. Baguio of Batuan, Bohol; Municipal Councilor Ma. Karen A. Baldonado-Guillermo of Andres Bonifacio, Diffun, Quirino; City Councilor Kristine Jane P. Barison of General Trias City, Cavite; Provincial Board Member Mila Perpetua A. Catabay-Lauigan of Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Municipal Councilor Gecelle Meñez Fainsan of Odiongan, Romblon; Municipal Mayor Trina Alejandra Que Firmalo-Fabic of Odiongan, Romblon; Municipal Councilor Mardella Matba of Languyan, Tawi-Tawi ; Municipal Councilor Vanessa Lyn Uy Mercader of Las Navas, Northern Samar; Municipal Mayor Fely of Tubahon, Dinagat IslandsPedrablanca; Provincial Board Member Thea Faith Tinsay Reyes of Roxas City, Capiz; Provincial Board Member Abegail Vendiola Sable of Corden, Isabela; Municipal Councilor Mayfair “Maya Bongco” Sibug of Orani, Bataan ; Municipal Councilor Rowena Verona Sumagaysay Silvederio of Santa Barbara, Iloilo; Provincial Board Member Rosary Gracia Perez Tababa of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan; Municipal Vice Mayor Marissa Velitario-Hao of Nabua, Camarines Sur; Board Member Margielou Orange D. Verzosa-Humilde of the 1st District of Pangasinan; and, City Councilor Maria Mylen Victoria G. Yaranon of Baguio City, Benguet.