Sara Duterte called the campaign ‘doomed’ but then came TIME

July 5, 2018 - 6:06 PM
Women march through Quiapo on International Women's Day. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

The Filipino women behind the #BabaeAko social media movement landed in TIME magazine’s “most influential” roster on June 30, days after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte criticized it as “doomed.”

One of campaign’s co-founders, Inday Espina-Varona, shared on Twitter that she was surprised when the international press reached out to her.

In the TIME magazine interview, Varona described the campaign as a way to retaliate amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s misogynistic comments. “He is saying ‘you can do the same because I get away with it,” Varona said in the Time narrative,” she added.

When Sara, the daughter of President Duterte, first heard of the campaign critical of her father’s attitude toward women, she attempted to counter accusations that he looked down on them.

This is the first time I will say it out loud and I hate to admit it because I love my two brothers too much but yes I am the favorite child, so that #babaeako campaign is doomed.

“What he doesn’t like lies not in the gender, but in the character, he has no respect for weakness. And many women and some men are known to be damsels in distress, that #babaeako included.:

So when TIME magazine hailed the pro-women campaign, its supporters felt it was a redemption after a slap from Sara.

TIME magazine chose groups or individuals with “global impact on social media and their overall ability to drive news.”

Other personalities included are US President Donald Trump, Rihanna, Roland Szabo, the one behind the viral Yanny or Laurel debate, Korean band BTS and Kanye West.

It started with a simple hashtag

Even before his presidency, Duterte has a habit of making misogynistic remarks in his public speeches, which his supporters downplay as his supposed humor.

One of such statements was when he ruled out women from being shortlisted as the next ombudsman last May. The incumbent Ombudsmen Conchita Carpio-Morales, a woman who has been deemed critical of the administration, will retire on July 26.

This sparked a group of women—including Varona, activist Mae Paner and Coalition Against Trafficking in Women chief for Asia Pacific Jean Enriquez—to start the campaign on social media days later.

What they did not expect is a ripple effect to other Filipino women felt alluded to by statements of top government officials.

Recently, Duterte again drew condemnation when he kissed a married Filipino migrant worker on the lips onstage during his three-day South Korea trip.

The behavior propelled some 1,000 women to translate their online protest into a street rally on June 12 using the hashtag #BabaeAko as their banner.

Include women in the grassroots

Many people were thrilled at the campaign being acknowledged on the world stage, particularly to those who have supported it from the start.

One of those who praised the campaign said that there’s still work to be done in the advocacy.

Twitter user Pinoy Citizens Watch noted that most women involved came from the middle class thereby missing the voices of those from the grassroots level.

“Letting the grassroots women speak their authentic voices is what’s missing. As important is for us to see the issues from their own eyes. Those have always been the frustrations of grassroots women with the movement,” the Twitter user wrote.