House panel approves bills creating National Museum for Filipino Women

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
House panel approves bills creating National Museum for Filipino Women
In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, St. Scholastica's College students dance in unison during the "One Billion Rising" global movement as part of their advocacy against all forms of discrimination and violence against women and children.
The STAR / Michael de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is once again taking a shot at passing proposals to create a national museum honoring key Filipino women figures who fought in the country’s historic pushbacks against dictatorship and colonization.

The House basic education and culture committee on Monday approved in principle bills proposing the National Museum of Filipino Women Act, which establishes a separate museum dedicated to women historical figures.

The panel's approval will be final once it has arrived at a consolidated version of four bills proposing the creation of the same museum.

The House passed an earlier version of the proposed National Museum of Filipino Women Act on final reading during the 18th Congress, but the measure was not able to clear the Senate.

Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), who principally authored House Bill (HB) 5520, said in her opening speech that the bill honors both “modern-day heroines” as well as women martyrs who were tortured or killed during the martial law period under the late dictator and former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 

The bill is also being deliberated “amid the backdrop of historical revisionism,” Brosas stressed.

“We should never forget the brutal torture and killing of Liliosa Hilao and the experiences of Martial Law survivors former DSWD Sec. Judy Taguiwalo and Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus,” Brosas added.

The lawmaker also said that the current generation of Filipinos need to learn the “important role played by women in the context of fighting for human rights.”

The explanatory note of HB 5520 similarly states that knowledge of the role women played in the history of the country is “crucial in developing people’s appreciation and respect for women and girls, that should eventually help eliminate discrimination, oppression, and violence against females of all ages.”

‘Years of education’

National Museum Director General Jeremy Barnes expressed his support for the measure, admitting that it took him years and several consultations to see the significance of having a separate museum for women.

Since the introduction of the measure in past congresses — the first of which was filed in 13th Congress — Barnes said he has become “more educated” about the merits of the bill.

“At first I felt defensive, because we at the National Museum endeavor very hard to mainstream women's concerns and the concerns of other sectors. (This is why) in the past I've been advocating for mainstreaming rather than a dedicated women's museum,” Barnes added.

“But in the last several years, I've come around to the idea that in order to truly advance and promote the rule of women and advocate for women's issues, there really is a need for this,” he added.

The director general noted that House Bill 5520 — which places the proposed museum under the care of the PCW “is one that the National Museum would strongly support.”

“It is the fruit of several rounds of consultation and deliberation. And I think it's ready for the next step,” Barnes added.

Committee chairperson Rep. Roman Romulo (Pasig City) noted, however, that a representative of the PCW was not present during the hearing. The House committee secretary said that the PCW were sent an invitation to the hearing through email, but the committee did not receive a response.

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