UST Hiraya, the pioneer Intersectional Feminism, mental health and gender equity organization in the University of Santo Tomas held its first general assembly as a duly recognized organization last Friday at the university’s Medicine Auditorium.
Gracing the event were prominent figures for UST Hiraya’s major advocacies, namely: Atty. Shyanne Juan-Monera for Violence against women (VAW), Dr. Gia Sison, M.D. for mental health, UP Babaylan’s Punong Babaylan Vince Liban for gender equity, and Fatima “Effy” Elmubarak for arts & culture.
Atty. Juan-Monera, who has personally handled cases of violence against women and children, discussed the rampancy of domestic violence in the Philippines and even provided legal advice for possible abuse victims and witnesses. She added that laws are to ensure everyone’s protection, but without people’s actions it would be useless. “You have to do your share, you have to report [the incident],” said Juan-Monera.
Filipino-Sudanese singer-songwriter and social media figure, Fatima “Effy” Elmubarak, also emphasized that such a “system of oppression is normalized,” which explains people’s inability to realize that domestic violence is a problem. The prominent Twitter figure also discussed how the arts can be used as an avenue for protest.
UP Babaylan’s Punong Babaylan Vince Liban noted the difference between gender equity and gender equality and highlighted the importance of creating spaces of inclusion and acceptance for all sexual orientations. “The world isn’t really black and white, it’s a whole wide spectrum of colors,” Liban asserted. He added that creating stereotypes for people only serves as restrictions, “stereotypes are usually wrong. Hindi mo pwede i-capture ang isang idea, or entity just by the stereotypes attached to them.”
Meanwhile, mental health advocate and breast cancer survivor Dr. Gia Sison drew the audience’s emotions with her talk about depression. She emphasized how “our minds are made to breathe also.” Afterwards, she answered a series of questions that ranged from the relevance of mental health to the country, to personal issues that involved depressive tendencies.
The audience was also serenaded by songs from Journalism student Nathalie Robles, up and coming indie band Bandido and a special performance by one of the speakers, Effy Elmubarak.
The event was in partnership with WhenInManila.com, We The Pvblic, Frappe la Rue, the ThomasianCable Television (TOMCAT), Scout Magazine, Zest-O Corporation, Tinapayan Festival and Trampoline Park.