International Women’s Day: A shout out for women

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As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

Did you ever pause for a moment remembering the value and importance of women and their contributions to the community and their impact in our life? Well, this is the time to do it!

We celebrated International Women’s Day last week. We reminisced the many wonderful contributions made by women of all ages around the world… living or dead. We honored their important role in our communities, businesses, civil society, and government reaffirming our nation’s commitment to progress and development. Remembering and honoring them ensured and reminded us that every person has the opportunity to succeed, much so with women!

Before we finally close our book on the chapter on women’s day today, I would like to devote some time in recognizing three women in my life: my wife Delia; my late mom Leonor Reasonda Estioko; and my wife’s late mom Sofia Marcelino Ventura. They are incredible women of my life that shaped my way of life today and beyond!

To me, there’s no other woman who is as devoted, responsible, caring, and loving like my wife. She is a loving and caring mother of our six children and a loving husband to me. She makes sure that she cooks not only three times a day for the regular meals, but also sets the table in between meals. She believes that for a person to be energetic and healthy, he or she needs to eat three square meals a day and take merienda in between meals. She loves to cook and she does it with gusto. She never thinks of economizing when it comes to food. She is an advocate of human rights and she loves to see women asserting their rights in whatever they do. She is a graduate of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo, Philippines. She is a woman par excellence… a woman for all seasons!

My mom, together with my dad, patiently and successfully raised their 13 children (10 boys, 3 girls, where I am the 11th), and all of them became professionals and are gainfully employed raising their respective families. Both my parents have to retire from teaching in order to make sure we go to college and eventually have a better life. My mom became a full time housewife while my dad became a farm manager of a 12-hectare farm owned by an absentee landlord. While busy raising us, she was well-informed of a lot of initiatives empowering women of all backgrounds to achieve their economic potential and shape our world. She remained committed and an ardent defender of the worthwhile mission of enhancing women’s leadership in the world and building a stronger community. She was very active in the church (she was a devout Catholic) and got involved in various religious activities in the parish.

My wife’s mom was equally a superb mother of nine children (my wife is the 7th) from the obscure barrio/barangay of Cabugao, Altavas, Aklan. She made sure all her children are brought to the world with good manner and right conduct and trained them to become worthy members of the community.

While vacationing with us in the city of Manila, she helped my wife take care of our growing children. She loves her grandchildren!

Aside from my family, I would like also to recognize five women who are dedicated community servants working for the welfare of the people in the city of Urdaneta in Pangasinan. The first one is Yvonne San Juan-Sera, two-time president of The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) based in Southern California, pursuing her undying dedication in pushing scholarship programs for poor but deserving students in Urdaneta. She believes that the scholarship program is the antidote to poverty, for poor but deserving high school students for them to be able to earn their college degrees that will make them successful in life and become responsible members of society.

TGU’s scholarship program is now on its 6th year and so far it has 23 scholars plus one who already graduated from Nursing (BSN), in colleges and universities in Urdaneta. The first scholar, Marcelino Ordanza, RN, who was jointly sponsored by TGU and the Pangasinan Brotherhood – USA, is now gainfully employed as a nurse in a university hospital in Europe.

Last year, the Scholarship Board headed by an equally dedicated community leader Dr. Clare Adalem, completed the selection of 10 more scholars plus three personal scholars of Dr. Adalem who were eventually enrolled in her school, the St. Clare College in Caloocan City, Philippines. Both Yvonne and Dr. Adalem are ably supported by tested women community leaders Fe Gonzales-Sepulveda, Dr. Belinda San Juan, and Dr. Fe Ranada. They make sure that the scholarship program of TGU is getting enough sponsors and enlisting qualified scholars to make the program a viable community project in the prime city of Urdaneta. They also oversee the program and work very closely with the scholars to make sure they maintain their scholarship grants and graduate from their chosen degrees. Last year, the second batch of TGU scholars graduated from their respective degrees and are now employed in the fields they have chosen.

Last week, a good friend of mine, Nurse Builders Academy (NBA) of Santa Clara VP for Administration Erlinda Fortes Reyes won the 2019 Women of the Year Award in Sacramento, CA, the seat of government of the state of California, presented by District 27 Assembly member Ash Kalra. It’s a well-deserved award and congratulations to her! Aside from being a school administrator, Reyes is a current commissioner of Santa Clara County, CA and a member of the FilAm Chamber of Commerce in Santa Clara County.

Women are important members of society, so they need to be empowered to assume responsible roles for community development! Besides, they need to be remembered every now and then, to be able to boast their interest in helping shape a better community and a better life.

More power to women! They deserve the best!

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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