Who’s who: All the Filipino women in U2’s concert tribute

December 17, 2019 - 5:48 PM
Bono of U2
Bono of U2 at the Philippine Red Cross headquarters (The STAR/Boy Santos)

Irish rock band U2 gave a tribute to female personalities in the Philippines when they performed their song “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” during their one-day stop for “The Joshua Tree Tour” at the Philippine Arena last December 10.

While U2 has been known for socially aware music and campaigns, some attendees of the concert were disappointed with the inclusion of some names whom they considered undeserving of the recognition.

Photos of female personalities and movements were featured on the big screen of the stage while the 1970s band played their 1991 hit single “Ultraviolet (Light My Way).”

The brief homage to women was part of their “her-story” segment wherein they feature influential women of the countries they visit.

In South Korea, they put up the faces of celebrated Korean singer Lee Ji-eun or IU and late K-pop star Sulli during their stop in Seoul.

Female personalities

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga received international awards in musical theater and in acting throughout her career, including the prestigious Tony Awards for her role in Miss Saigon. In 2018, she received her first Grammy nomination for being part of the “Once On This Island” cast album.

Melchora Aquino

Melchora Aquino, also known as Tandang Sora or the Mother of the Katipunan, is a renowned heroine for her contributions to the Philippine revolution. Andres Bonifacio sought her advice in making decisions for the organization. She also used her home to nurse wounded katipuneros.

Corazon Aquino

The late president Corazon Aquino is mostly remembered being a democracy icon, being among the personalities who led a popular revolt that toppled the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Her son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III became president a year after she died.

Lidy Nacpil Alejandro

Lidy Nacpil Alejandro had been an advocate for human rights and climate justice since the Marcos dictatorship. She’s now the coordinator of Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Developmenta regional alliance that campaigns against social inequality across Asia.

Maria Carpena

Maria Carpena is a popular soprano and sarswela star during the 1900’s. Her breakthrough came when she teamed up with Victorino Carrion in the sarswela “Walang Sugat.”

Marinel Ubaldo

Marinel Ubaldo became a climate activist when Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged her hometown in Eastern Samar. She was one of the speakers during the climate negotiations of the 21st Conference of the Parties or COP21 in Paris.

Joan Carling

Joan Carling was recognized last year as one of the Champions of the Earth award, the United Nations’ highest environmental honor, along with French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Carling, a Filipino-Japanese environment defender, was also among those tagged as communist rebels by the government.

Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa is the chief executive officer of Rappler, an online news organization in the Philippines. Ressa received a number of international accolades as an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration that filed cases against Rappler. She was among TIME magazine’s prestigious featured lists in 2018 and 2019.

Sen. Pia Cayetano

Senator Pia Cayetano, whose name was erroneously spelled as “Cayentano” in the U2 concert, was credited for her work in passing the Reproductive Health Law, Sin Tax Reform Act and the Graphic Health Warning Act.

Female-centered movements

One Billion Rising movement

The One Billion Rising movement is a global campaign to end rape and sexual violence against women in the world. In the Philippines, the organization partnered with Gabriela to launch the One Billion Rising 2019 last year.

The #BabaeAko movement

The #BabaeAko movement started as an online protest by concerned Filipino women against President Rodrigo Duterte’s habit of making misogynistic remarks in his public speeches in 2018. It soon propelled into a street rally comprising at least 1,000 women which later landed in one of Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People on the Internet.”

Not all were praises

After performing the single, lead singer Paul David Hewson or Bono particularly praised journalist Maria Ressa whom he subtly compared to “the president,” without dropping any names.

“Women who light up history, your own Maria Ressa, is an incredible woman. But the extraordinary thing is, even Maria will say it’s not about individuals. It’s about collective action. It’s about social movements. And so then all of you can grow up to be the President or Maria Ressa,” Bono said.

Unfortunately, not all of his fans agreed to this. Some cited Ressa’s cases as the reason why she shouldn’t be placed next to others in U2’s honor roll.