Extol the heroism of revolutionary women

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The contribution of valiant women in advancing the liberation movement and revolutionary struggle in the Philippines cannot be underestimated. From the Spanish colonial period, American and Japanese occupation, the Marcos fascist dictatorship, and up to the present, they have raised high the purple flag to advance the interests of women and the motherland. They have shouldered and continue to make heavy sacrifices, and with full determination carry out their revolutionary tasks.

The modern generation of revolutionary women emulate and are inspired by the examples of Gabriela Silang, who led the liberation movement in Ilocos against Spain in 1763; by Coronacion Chiva (Kumander Waling-waling), who led the anti-Japan guerrillas in Panay and continued against the Marcos dictatorship; by Maria Lorena Barros, key figure and founder of the Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan; by Wilma Tiamzon, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines; by Helenita Parladis, secretary of the Eastern Visayas Party committee; by mother-and-daughter Beverly Sinunta, North Central Mindanao subregional secretary, and Chenchen Banawan; by Emarie Pastidio who was official of an NPA-Negros platoon; and many more women who were martyred in the battlefield. Their immeasurable contribution in the advancement of the people’s revolution provide strength to hundreds of women fighters.

Legacy to young women

Among these women is Ka Lira, a 26-year-old Red fighter of the New People’s Army (NPA) in one of the Southern Tagalog guerrilla fronts. “I now fulfill the role of political guide and sometimes political instructor,” she shared. She has been in the NPA for six years.

“Every day, I realize that there is much more to learn, and to overcome,” Ka Lira said. As a woman and from the petty bourgeois class, she strives to break the stereotype of women as weak and limited in ability.

“There are also female military officers, snipers and commanders, and leaders in battles!” she says. Newly enlisted male fighters are often surprised when they witness this. Their presence in the people’s army is already a victory against macho-feudal culture. “When village women see us, they greet us with wonder. Especially mothers, who sincerely ask why I chose to leave a life of comfort.”

“I told them life like ours is not really easy, but I accept the sacrifice knowing what it is for,” she says. “I just show them there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Bravery in confronting the enemy

The spirit of Ka Rema, a woman Red fighter of the NPA-North Central Mindanao, never wavered, even while in the hands of the enemy. Only thirteen days after giving birth through ceasarean section, Ka Rema traversed the forest to escape the enemy and return to her NPA unit. Ka Rema is a key officer in an NPA fighting unit.

Ka Rema was treacherously arrested by the military while in the hospital after delivery. She was subjected to intense interrogation and forced to take on a counterrevolutionary “mission”.

During that time, she carefully answered the military officer’s questions and made sure she gave no new and sensitive data. She fooled them and was tasked to convince her Red warrior husband to surrender.

Never once did Ka Rema think of betraying her comrades, the masses and the revolution. Escape from the fascists was always foremost on her mind. When the opportunity came to escape, she immediately grabbed it. Before leaving, she tightly embraced her weeping 9-year-old firstborn and her newborn. “Perhaps they will understand this in the future,” thought Ka Rema.

That day, Ka Rema arrived at the camp of the people’s army. She thanked comrades and the masses who aided her escape. “I am so happy to have returned to my true home!” Ka Rema emotionally greeted her comrades.

Extol the heroism of revolutionary women