The collective energy of this group of women representing different faith and social action groups is very empowering. We wrestled with the Biblical characters of Miriam and Deborah, their visions and struggles to be faithful leaders, recognizing that 88% of women in the Philippines come from the basic masses, meaning workers and farmers where every day is a struggle. Our discussions focussed upon what are the visions for this country, what are the struggles that we as women are experiencing and what are our victories as women?
We heard the pain of a mother whose university student daughter became one of the "disappeared" in June 2006, stolen from her home at 2:30 am by military gun point, dragged outside, hands tied and kicked in her pregnant stomach, along with a fellow student who tried to protect her. The churches have given her courage and strength to fight for her daughter and not give up hope. She wants justice. We heard the struggles of a widow with her two children who is President of the Urban Poor Organization and how the church has helped her. We heard the struggles of a woman farmer who is constantly being harassed, who works hard planting and harvesting the rice yet is poor because they are only tenants on the land, and can be easily displaced. Most of her rice has now been destroyed by the recent typhoon.
The passion to support each other and work in solidarity prevails in worship, conversation and sharing in so many ways. I am blessed to have this experience and they are so happy to have me here and know that others will hear of their challenges. Padi Rex Reyes has welcomed me as a "living letter from the UCC".