Ilonggo culture doesn’t tolerate slander vs women 

By Alex P. Vidal 

“Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” —Charlotte Whitton

WHEN somebody talk or write nasty things against a woman in Iloilo, Ilonggos don’t care whether the story leveled against her is true or not.

What they care about is the woman’s reputation and dignity that may have been torn to shreds when canards, half-truths and scurrilous snipes started flying thick, fast and furious against her person.

When a woman is slandered and mortally wounded, Ilonggos think of their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, female teachers, female best friends and role models that are shamed, pulverized and tormented.

For the true-blooded Ilonggos, this is unacceptable.

When it comes to women, the Ilonggo culture is rare as a hen’s teeth as it cultivates the love for a woman as a natural feeling; loving a woman, for Ilonggos, means loving all of the parts of her that other societies tell them they shouldn’t.

Ilonggos believe stealthy and vulgar attacks against women normally boomerang and a bad omen almost always falls upon the offenders. Be warned.

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Ilonggos are primarily educated and conservatives. They live in a city and province dubbed as “the Athens of the Philippines” because of the presence of highly acclaimed universities and colleges, a record-breaking feat for any place all over the archipelago.

They are descendants of heroes and heroines with badges of honor and impeccable values, courage and intellect that permeated their eminence in the modern era.

They aren’t patsies who settle for cheap shots and unproductive colloquy. Watch out when they excel in arts, music, film, science, sports, diplomatic service and politics.

When you sit down in a crowded coffee shop and start telling all and sundry, for instance, that Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda is a witch or a prostitute out of spite and political hatred, you will be lucky to leave that place with your main faculties intact.

Baronda is not only a duly elected representative, she is, first and foremost, a woman and a leader.

A leader is respected and adored, not lampooned and blemished with derogatory imputations without any justification and morsel of evidence.

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It isn’t fair to eject and reject her only because she stands in the way of a political dynasty.

As a member of the Lower House, Baronda’s role in society and mission statement tower above the interests of one family or any group of aristocrats for that matter bidding to establish a dynastic authority or kingdom.

There are people who don’t like her politics, style, demeanors, extra curricular activities—if there are some that the public may be aware of (but, God, she is a human being)—, attires, etcetera—and that’s normal in a pluralistic environment—, but many people also love and admire her for who and what she is.

That’s why she is—and has been—Iloilo City’s lone district representative for two terms now.

To dislike her is easy, to convince the electorate to pillory Baronda and dispose her off without a serious casus bello is as difficult as scoring a hole in one in the PGA Tour.

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HISTORY IN CANADA. I was invited and witnessed the awarding of the “Maharlika Award” to Mable Elmore during the Philippine Independence Gala Night at the Italian Cultural Center in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 19, 2010.

Elmore is the first Filipino to run and elected Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Vancouver-Kensington on May 12, 2009. She served as deputy opposition critic for Children, Family Development and Child Care. A second generation Filipino-Canadian, she has also been active in the peace movement and on immigrant, social justice, women’s and gay, lesbian and transgendered issues.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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