MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Mindanao women who aimed high. By Samira A. Gutoc

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MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Mindanao Women Who Aimed High
By Samira Gutoc

MARAWI CITY — Mindanao women are slowly making their mark. Even as mothers who have to balance work, clan needs and an environment with sporadic conflict, these lady achievers have made their dent in Philippine history whether as politicians, pioneers or peace negotiators. These are their stories.
 
The first lady Mindanawan senator Santanina “Nina” Rasul, 75, dreamt that Sulu would one day rise above the ashes left by the “burning of Jolo” in 1968, when military and the newly formed MNLF clashed. She surrounded herself in the world of ideas and books of her superintendent father to escape the bitter bangs of bullets around her.

Many of the Tausugs had stopped schooling. But Rasul wanted  learning for everyone so she taught the older people to write and read,  later founding the  Magbasa Kita (Let us Read) Foundation. In 1987, Cory Aquino urged her to run for Senator. As a politician, Rasul pushed for historic laws such as the Women in Nation-Building Act and women being allowed enrolment at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
 
One of the country’s Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), Nurhaylah “Emily” Marohombsar, 70, rose above the ranks of the largest island campus in the country , the Mindanao State University, to become its first lady president. Wanting to serve her motherland, the gorgeous young lass from Ganassi, Lanao del Sur who studied well at the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) refused to join Philippine Showbiz when invited by talent scouts.
 
Under her stint, Emily promoted MSU as a global university grounded on multi-culturalism. She then served her country by being the lone lady peace panel member in the GRP-MILF Peace Talks for government and the Constitutional Commission, created by government to study charter change.
 
Daughter of Senator Alauya Alonto and married to a pioneering revolutionary, Rashid Lucman of the Bangsamoro Liberation Organization (BMLO), the fiery Princess Tarhata Alonto-Lucman,  now in her 80s, of Lanao is the first lady governor in Mindanao during the traumatic martial law period. She stood up to President Marcos to question martial law. Braving the bullets that came with clan feuds in Lanao, she stood in the middle of shooting men to pacify them. She is best known as a feud negotiator having settled the most bloody generational conflicts in her province.
 
Amina  Rasul, now in her 50s, was the first Chair of the National Youth Commission (NYC) in the 80s. Under her leadership, the NYC grew as an institution from a small agency with a budget pf P18 million to a highly regarded national policy oriented body with a budget of P140 million. After serving government, she is busily advancing a global view of Islam by promoting its democratic ideals, reaping recognition by being awarded MUSLIM DEMOCRAT OF THE YEAR by a Washington-based think-tank. She is editor of the Moro Times, the lone national news supplement on Muslims.
 
Civil society advocate Yasmin Busran-Lao, in her 40s, seeks gender justice for Muslim women by founding the lone institutional Muslim women NGO in the country, the Al-Mujadillah Development Foundation (AMDF) in Marawi City. For her work in uplifting the plight of the marginalized, she was recognized by the US Government by conferring on her the Ninoy Aquino Public Service Award.
 
 In celebration of Women’s Month and International Women’s Day last March 8, the Voice Of The Youth Network-Lanao Chapter (VOTY-Lanao) in partnership with the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) will  feature these women at an exhibit entitled: “ Aim High Mindanao Women: HERSTORY” An Exhibit of FIRSTS at the Mindanao State University (MSU), Main Library LOBBY, Marawi City on March 10-17, 2008.

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