(Samira Ali Gutoc delivered this speech during the press conference on the 2019 TOWNS awardees at Dusit, Makati on October 10, 2019. Samira is one of 12 awardees, and one of two Meranaws to be honored on October 29 at Dusit Makati, she for Peace Advocacy).
Bismillah , In the Name of Almighty
At this lowest in my life for my community under evacuation, I am grateful. Where land, sea and air artillery were pounded on us, this is for Fatima who lost four of her eight children in the infamous Marawi Siege.
One of my favorite stories is the Little Prince. Like anyone starting small in a world of giants, I was a tambay in a printing press in Quezon City to produce a publication about Muslim youth efforts that was distributed to the halls of decision making.
There was joy of something coming out, the hard print amidst grease, ink and the whirr.
I was used to doors closing, or hand-me-downs, when people refused to see you.
In this case, our Muslim group in college, we went to the canteen to display the kulintang and malongs.
Where there were few, we went, where there were no veiled, we shook hands.
Running to the wind like my ancestors did with their knives as against armadas, I entered the UP football team because the fight to be a cum laude was no longer.
Yes we may no longer have Mother Teresas, but we must forge on, for all who cannot express themselves in a social-media hijacked itinerary. When the sin of critical thinking is persecuted, we must arise.
My message to all women out there, don’t despair, when they are not fair, dare recreate.
Hindi nasa titulo kungdi sa pagtapos sa dulo.