Promoting Women?s Economic, Human Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

(Speech of President GLORIA M. ARROYO at the 79th Commencement Exercises of the Philippine Women?s University (PWU) PICC Plenary Hall, PICC, Roxas Boulevard, Manila, March 8, 2002.)

I AM very happy to be here today with the community of the Philippine Women's University, especially on this very important day, the day for women. It is appropriate to begin the celebration of Women's Day by being with the Women's University. And on a personal note, being with the Philippine Women's University on this very important day for women, makes me feel that I am with a woman whom I love very dearly, even up to today beyond her life, my mother the late first lady Evangelina Macaraeg Macapagal, herself an Alumna of Philippine Women's University.

Actually, even I did some studies in PWU, not academic studies but I learned some lessons with the Bayanihan being taught by no less than mommy Urtula, herself. This was when my father was president of the Philippines and there were occasions when, specifically for the king and queen of Thailand, and the Crown Prince and princess of Japan who are now the Emperor and Empress of Japan. My mother decided that the cultural presentations would be done by me, and so I took lessons with Bayanihan, and I was very happy that at that time, I learned much about the repertory of Bayanihan, and the dances that mommy Urtula taught me were new dances that she had just discovered from her research all over the Philippines. And so it made me very familiar with how Bayanihan works, not only by making everybody a skilled dancer, but also by doing research and therefore bringing out many hidden treasures of our culture and making them part now of our public property. I appreciate Bayanihan for all the things that I learned then.

And of course, you my dear graduates, I congratulate our graduates of this year. You are the pride of family and kin. You are the pride of your institution, you are the pride of our nation. And as we have been saying today, today is International Women's Day. Today, the world honors women as the pillar of the home, the workplace and society.

As women, our historical struggle is steep in glory and achievement, sacrifice and heroism. But sadly, millions of women around the world still struggle for emancipation and freedom, we must continue to embrace their cause with fervor and zeal.

Until every woman is liberated from the shackless of oppression, ignorance and poverty, there will be no real peace, no real justice, no real progress for mankind.

I sincerely thank the PWU for the Hiyas ng Pamantasan Award presented to me. I humbly accept it as part of the continuing honor bestowed upon my family by this institution.

In his time, my father, the late president Diosdado Macapagal - I believe in this very hall - also received the Conrado Benitez Centenary Heritage Award for being the shining exemplar of the finest virtues, and the noblest tasks that make a man and president of his people, a truly great Filipino.

My mother - that was in this hall for sure, because I still have photographs of that - was awarded in 1992 the Francisca Tirona Benitez Medal of Merit. I am awed by these honors and I thank you with all my heart.

After all, as I said earlier, my late mother was a Philwomanian, a graduate of PWU's High School - she was an intern, even her piano was an intern and some of her best friends then became her best friends all throughout her life until the end of her days. She was always proud of her days at the Philippine Women's University.

The values inculcated - diligence, achievement, the quest of good and decency - continue to guide me and my family. These values were nurtured and reinforced in the very halls of the institution of Philippine Women's University.

The hallmarks of achievement are abundant in your great university. As mentioned earlier, yours is the oldest women's university in Asia. …