HomeCommentarySunflower Run as a campaign on empowerment of women and children

Sunflower Run as a campaign on empowerment of women and children

On March 29, 1984, Proclamation No. 2346 was enacted declaring April 30 as “Woman Suffrage Day” to enable Filipino women to “renew their advocacy and support for clean, honest, and free elections and pursue with greater zeal their efforts towards this direction.”

It was on April 30, 1937, that Filipino women exercised suffrage for the first time when an overwhelming majority of 447,725 Filipino women voted in a plebiscite in favor of their right to vote in political elections under Commonwealth Act No. 34.

Forty years later, after Proclamation No. 2346 was enacted, the second Sunflower Run was held last March 23, 2024, at the Academic Oval of the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (UP).

“Pagpugay sa Kababaihan, Pag-asa Para sa Kabataan” is the Sunflower Run’s theme as part of the Women’s Month celebration.

Atty. Vien Tiempo Mendez of Portia Sorority Alumnae Association explained that the sunflower is also known as a symbol of women’s power in the suffrage movement.

Sunflower pins were worn by women in Kansas as they campaigned for the right to vote in 1867. While the Kansas referendum failed, yellow remained a color of the suffrage movement through the 20th century.

Sunflowers have become the symbol of the ultimate rites of passage at the university.

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As a parting gift for graduating students, sunflowers symbolize devotion and loyalty as denizens hurdled every academic requirement through sleepless and restless days and nights.

As one blossoms inside the campus, there will come a time when one will have to leave.

Sunflowers, in order to grow, need full sun, just as every student treats every experience inside the university as necessary for their individual growth.

Participants assembled around the UPLift sculpture in front of the University Theater, which is a statue of a nude female levitating over a pool of water, with arms outstretched.

Ferdinand Cacnio, creator of UPLift, said the sculpture is about “enlightenment and uplifting oneself” and about “aspiring for honor and excellence.”

The ‘Uplift’ was also described as “a woman rising from the waters; levitating like a Diwata who welcomes the sunlight; the spread arms at an angle that clearly suggests that, like the Oblation, she is offering herself.”

UPLift is a woman arising with open arms to welcome the knowledge and values of UP as an institution.

The face of UPLift is based on Atty. Dot Gancayco of Delta Lambda Sigma Sorority and UP Concert Chorus Alumni Association.

“To be a woman today is both a burden and an honor—a burden because of the injustices that women from all sectors of society from every corner of the world still face today, but an honor, because of the ability of these women to continuously come together with our allies and fight for our rights and the rights of our children,” says Atty. Dot Gancayco of Delta Lambda Sigma Sorority.

The Sunflower Run, Gancayco said, aims to remind the world that women and children have rights that need and deserve to be protected, and to exemplify the truth that these Filipino women are not alone.

“We encourage all women and women’s groups to continue to raise awareness in our own way. Continue to hold training seminars on sexual harassment, safe spaces, and violence against women and children. At home, husbands can start by respecting their wives and show their sons how to treat their mothers and sisters well,” says Dean Ada Abad of UP Women Lawyers’ Circle.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said that 17.5% of Filipino women aged 15-49 have experienced any form of physical, sexual, and emotional violence. As of 2021, there were 8,399 reported cases of physical violence, 1,791 of rape, and 1,505 of acts of lasciviousness.

“Let’s do it one day at a time, one person at a time. These commitments should be constant and non-negotiable. This is one concrete way we forge the path toward a more equitable and humane society that truly recognizes the worth and contributions of those women who hold half the sky,” Abad added.

Officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977, International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8 as a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, or political.

March was declared as Women’s Month after President Cory Aquino signed Proclamation No.288 on March 17, 1988, emphasizing the role of Filipino women in the social, cultural, economic, and political development throughout our history.

The event was led by UP-based women’s groups, which include Portia Sorority, Portia Sorority Alumnae Association, Women Lawyers’ Circle, Women in Law, Delta Lambda Sigma Sorority, as well as the Concert Chorus Alumni Association, Kontra GaPi, and Celebrity Club.

Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the Seafarers’ Division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan Law Offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.

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