2020 INCITEGov Annual Report
KABARO JOURNEYS 1: Narratives from the women's movement (March 2020)
A closer look at the cost of the Marawi Siege (2019)
International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGOV) Inc.
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Sometimes, there are cases, when the old ways are the best.
Today, women all over the Philippines face new threats. It’s true that these threats are driven by the same old forces of patriarchy, misogyny, and authoritarianism—but it’s also true that these forces have never reared their heads with as much impunity, as much brazenness, and to as much public applause as they now do in our country.
Thus, Revisiting Marawi: A Closer Look at the Costs of the Marawi Siege aimed to collate the existing expressions of losses by the Marawi siege survivors, provide a space for Marawi residents to themselves document and deepen the discussion on these losses, and disseminate and widely circulate these expressions to a bigger audience by taking it beyond the Marawi residents to those who would traditionally and institutionally learn about them.
It is with these threats in mind that the International Center for Innovation, Transformation, and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) conceived Kwentong Kabaro. It envisioned a continuing series of monthly conversations focused on women’s issues and the stories of women’s milestone moments. Kwentong Kabaro gathers and offers behind-the-scenes views of these milestones not because it seeks to relive old victories in the face of new threats, but because it hopes to serve as a reminder of what gains women have made, how difficult the fight for these gains has been, and how the fight must now continue in order to defend these hard-earned gains. This publication tells the story of Kwentong Kabaro’s first ten conversations, held fromMarch to December 2019, which covered an array of issues as wide-ranging as they are timely and relevant for Filipino women: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; gender and populism; the women’s vote; the feminism of our late—and sorely missed—kabaro Karina David; the West Philippine Sea; the women’s legislative agenda; life and leadership in the Bangsamoro; the continuing fight for women’s reproductive rights; and the effects of the government’s Oplan Tokhang on women. All these culminated in a conversation in December, which provided an opportunity to look back on the past at the conversations of the previous months, as well as to look ahead to the future and the next steps the community must take.
Kwentong Kabaro draws from a uniquely feminist way of conversing that is both intensely personal and unabashedly political. It emphasizes the importance of kwentuhan—the power of telling and hearing stories. It brings together women who see themselves as kabaro, as advocates cut from the same cloth of resistance and unwavering insistence on the dignity and rights of women, so they can tell how they fought the darkness of their own times, and hopefully, point the way forward as we seek to fight this new darkness we are in.
It offers timeless lessons for the changing times confronting the women’s movement, and uncovers the foundations of age-old resistance to help inform the new and innovative ways of fighting back that are now being discovered by both the young feminists entering an established movement, and by seasoned veterans facing a world markedly different from the one they fought in.
Because Kwentong Kabaro is more than a retrospective. It is more than a compilation of the Philippine women’s movement’s greatest hits. Its methodology is, in more ways than one, a return to the fundamentals of feminism, to the basics of sisterhood—of shaping identity, forging connections, and seeing where the world is and where else it could be in the simple yet supremely empowering act of telling and listening to stories.
After all, sharing stories that illuminate the different angles of gender, stories that help women understand the various constructs that they deal with in their daily lives, have played such a large part in the birth and growth of the women’s movement in the Philippines. And in the new darkness of our times, perhaps it is these old ways that would serve us best again as we look for new ways of resistance. As new threats loom, perhaps the tried-and tested ways of the movement—more ethos than method, more spirit than system—are precisely what we need to make sense of our milieu and change it for the betterment of women. Because in the telling and the listening, we might yet ignite the fight again. In the telling and the listening, we might yet find the light once more.
26 June 2018
Discovery Suites, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
It has been a year since a band of armed individuals inspired by and aligned with the international terror group Daesh attempted to take over the Islamic City of Marawi. The ensuing clash with government forces led to multiple deaths and injuries, massive infrastructure destruction, loss of properties and livelihood, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of its residents, among others. It likewise triggered the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus not only in Marawi, but in the entire Mindanao. The full extent of losses, both physical and intangible, especially those experienced by the displaced residents, escapes comprehensive ascertainment a year after the siege—and even seven months after the “liberation” of the city.
The focus has since turned to rehabilitation and reconstruction, but even this has been problematic. The comprehensive rehabilitation plan released by Task Force Bangon Marawi was met with criticism by some Marawi residents who assert that the plan was formed without satisfactory consultation with the primary stakeholders—the siege survivors themselves. This highlights the need to document and consolidate the articulation of acceptable rehabilitation and reconstruction goals as communicated by the people of Marawi. However, this, in turn, requires a clearer picture of the scale of the losses sustained by the city during the siege and its aftermath—particularly issues of land, human rights, displacement, the loss of property, and the impact on the city as a religious, cultural, and educational center.
The first forum, held in Marawi City in May 2018, provided an opportunity for the survivors to talk about their experiences and the losses that they sustained during the siege. The second forum was held a month later in Manila in June 2018 to serve as an avenue for these stories and experiences to be heard by a broader audience.