why march 8

yesterday, i spent my time with ed and ayen at home on march 8.

twenty eight years ago,  i celebrated march 8 in the netherlands. i discovered that march 8 was celebrated first in 1911 in copenhagen when clara zetkin of the social democratic party in germany proclaimed women should be in the line of march. i met many women from various  liberation movements and parties advocating women’s freedom.  in the 1980s, i was then a volunteer of  Isis International in rome but lived in the netherlands with ed. it was exciting for me to bring home the news that march 8 is the international day of women. the women’s movements in the philippines  observe march 8 as the day of women. please  note that i state women’s movements, because women hold various orientations and there is not one ideology informing social and political actions of women.

ed asked me ” how do we celebrate march 8?” . i replied ” i dont want to  march in rallies today, ” thinking i should do something  more empowering.  but all i could do was paint and think of all the women who gave their lives to building a free and compassionate world for women and men. ed pressed on ” shall we go out and celebrate it?” ” yes but lets  find something culturally energizing.”

i remember the many friends who celebrated  march 8,  from anke reese of germany, adul de leon, bulet marasigan , christine tan,  mariani dimaranan yayori matsui of japan,  tata jacinto,  raquel tiglao,  malou doronila,  elma /lota of sarilaya and recently liclic  of hamburg . these women and many more  devoted their lives  to serve  larger movements, not just the philippines  but that of  the global women’s movements. they have crossed over to an eternal march 8.  i pray that their lives were rewarded by freedom and love in the afterlife.

my paintings of march 8 are still unfinished. they are reflections on why women need  to  march, not just on a date in a calendar but to see  the line that  women can cross.  a line of thinking that allow us to leap beyond the gap between slavery and freedom. girls, especially, need to learn that becoming women in these times  demand  courage  and compassion.  i pray that ayen, my daughter , and her generation  develop these virtues. may their  world be  free of prejudice and violence.

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