The Philippine Commission on Women celebrated its 45th anniversary as it commits to continue going beyond limits in the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment. PCW’s founding mothers and employees joined the current workforce of the Commission in the anniversary celebration held at the Philippine International Convention Center on January 31, 2020.
PCW was created as the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 633, on January 7, 1975 to act as an advisory body to the President and the Cabinet on policies and programs for the advancement of women. With the enactment of the Magna Carta of Women in 2009, it was renamed as the Philippine Commission on Women or PCW.
Opening the celebration, PCW Chairperson Rhodora Masilang-Bucoy, highlighted the milestones of PCW in the last 45 years. She also reminded the participants that there are “unfinished business” in the goal to ending discrimination against women.
“Anniversaries are occasions to renew our commitment for a society free of stigma, violence and stereotypes, where girls and boys are not afraid to walk home late at night. It is a time to remind ourselves about our unfinished tasks to transform our culture thereby freeing our men and boys from oppressive masculinities. Celebrating means rekindling our hope for a planet more inclusive and respectful of nature for the future generation to enjoy,” said Bucoy.
Gracing the event as the keynote speaker, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año thanked the Commission for being at the forefront of inspiring changes for Filipinas.
“Tunay ngang patuloy na yumayabong at namamayagpag ang mga kababaihang Pilipina, hindi lamang sa ating bansa, kundi maging sa pandaigdigang larangan. And for all these achievements, we have the Philippine Commission on Women to thank for. Considered as the pioneering national women’s machinery in Asia, PCW has come a long way since its humble beginnings forty-five years ago,” said Año.
He mentioned exemplary women who have proven that the fight for women’s empowerment have spelled victories, including the “likes of Filipina Marine Geophysicist Jenny Anne Barretto, whose passion in the field of science and research led her to discover the world’s largest known caldera. We also have Filipina Olympian Hidilyn Diaz, whose excellence in sports made her name synonymous with discipline and perseverance. And of course, we have the likes of Philippine Army’s 1LT Sarah Jane Bagasol and Pvt Anjanette Mayang, who performed combat duties during the infamous Marawi Crisis of 2017.”
Secretary Año also extended gratitude to the forerunners of PCW whose footsteps have laid the foundations of the Commission—beginning from PCW pioneer Mdm Imelda Marcos, followed by the late Mdm Leticia Shahani, to former chairpersons Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Mdm Imelda Nicolas, Mdm. Amelou Benitez-Reyes, Dr. Aurora Javate-De Dios, Mdm Myrna Yao, and finally Mdm Remmedios Rikken.
In her inspirational message, former PCW Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan shared that the wins were achieved through passion and unceasing pledge to the cause for women. She shared the challenges they have faced in the road to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). She emboldened everyone to recommit to the BPfA, and have “Beijing in our hearts”.
“Let Beijing+25 and PCW at 45 give birth to a new generation of Beijing champions who will make genuine difference in the implementation of the Beijing Platform to finally achieve equality, development, and peace for women and for all”, said Licuanan.
Another pillar of PCW, Former Chairperson Aurora De Dios, expressed her wish for the Commission: that it will achieve its goal to be a Department and have regional offices, so Gender and Development or GAD will be furthered in a national scale.
Former PCW Executive Director Emmeline Verzosa, who served PCW for 19 years, attested to the impact the Commission made especially in institutionalizing GAD.
“When it comes to GAD and gender mainstreaming, PCW is the go-to agency for insight, skills, and wisdom not only in the Philippines but in Asia Pacific. PCW is dependable,” said Verzosa.
But other than PCW’s influence over its stakeholders, PCW has also impacted women and men in its helm.
Ms. Eufrosina Dumlao, who has started in the Commission as a working student and now leads the Secretariat team of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children in PCW, shared her story in the Commission, her home and family for over 40 years.
“This is where I have forged the most important and fulfilling work relationships and lifelong friendships. This is where my daughter grew up, where she spent many days sleeping on the couch, whenever I had to work overtime… This is the place where I became who I am: a mother, a wife, a dedicated public servant, a gender equality and anti-VAW advocate, a friend, a mentor to those I supervised …and a woman.”
“It’s been the privilege of my life to have been part of PCW’s evolution: From its humble beginnings of only 12 staff members housed in an old building and 4-million peso budget; to the strong work force of 108 employees, 107-million peso budget, and crucial national machinery for women that it is today,” she added.
Recognizing PCW employees
True enough, the people of PCW have been the backbone of its advocacies and triumphs. To recognize their dedication and service, the PCW awarded deserving employees under the Employee Recognition Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence Program (ERAISE).
Special awards were given to employees who have showed outstanding work and ethics. They are:
Gawad Director Award - Maria C. Tasong
Exemplary Behavior Award - Armando G. Orcilla Jr.
Most Active Employee Award - Kim Harold T. Peji
Good Office Management Award - Accounting Section of the Administrative and Finance Division
Grace Under Pressure Award - Mary Gladys A. Esquibal
Contract of Service Staff of the Year - Zandra E. Lazo
Attitude is Everything Award (Best in Conduct Award) - Jojie Ann B. Climaco
Most Promising PCW Personnel Award - Rose Jean M. Mayrena
Most Punctual Employee Award - Viginia Q. Acuña
Best in Attendance Award - Jomay F. Tiauzon
Gender Catalyst Individual Award - Anastacio M. Lagumbay, Jr.
Gender Catalyst Team Award - Policy Development, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division (PDPMED)
Gawad ng Empleyado Award – Deputy Executive Director Cecile B. Gutierrez
Educational awards, also called “Sariling Sikap Awards”, were handed to employees who have pursued further learning while working full time. They are Maria Theresa E. Caasi, Ronalyn V. Hufancia, and Carmen Roceli M. Lopez.
PCW also honored its loyal employees who achieved milestones in their career in the Commission.
40th year - Micaela M. Punzalan
35th year - Virgilio G. Abilay
25th year - Maria C. Tasong
20th year - Clehenia Aurora B. San Juan
15th year - Maria Theresa E. Caasi
5th year: Silayan Teresita K. Chuck
Lisa R. Ramirez
Anna Maria B. Sotto
Virgilio A. Sabio
“It is from the hard work of our employees that PCW has evolved into a premier institution that has galvanized government to promote, protect, and fulfill women’s rights as human rights,” said Chairperson Bucoy.
Going Beyond Limits, Moving Towards its Golden Year
As the PCW moves towards its golden year, PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine Yuzon-Chaves encouraged the employees, stakeholders, clients, and partners to continue advocating equality, empowerment, and change.
“May you continue with your resolute commitment to PCW as the catalyst of change,” said Yuzon-Chaves.
Undersecretary Aimee Torrefranca-Neri of the Department of Social Welfare and Development also expressed her support to the PCW’s twin goals of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“We continue to give back to the community. We continue to pursue gender equality.”
In 45 years, the PCW was the harbinger of change. Collaborating with government agencies and private entities, it has advocated for policies pursuant to GAD mainstreaming, pushed for legislative agenda leading to the passage of landmark laws like the Magna Carta of Women that enshrines the rights of women especially the marginalized sectors, Expanded Maternity Leave Law which addresses the need for women to heal their bodies and allow husbands to take care of the newborn, Reproductive Health Law which upholds women’s bodily integrity and access to reproductive health services throughout the woman’s life cycle and recently, the Safe Spaces Act was passed protecting women from all forms of sexual harassment. (Watch this video to see PCW’s milestones)
As the PCW moves towards its golden year, we will continue to inspire more changes, catalyze more choices, and encourage every Juana to go beyond limits.