Magdalena Mission: Alagang Ate, a newly-formed women advocacy group composed of beauty titlists and other female celebrities joined hands with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and various national youth organizations to promote peace and development in the country and stop the atrocities perpetrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
At the weekly virtual press conference of the NTF-ELCAC held on Monday, 2018 Miss Globe Philippines and Volleyball standout Michelle Gumabao explained that their organization is a “joint effort” that values the “mindset of women” and empowers them to become fruitful members of society.
Calling all their members as “ate” (older sister) regardless of their age, Gumabao, one of the lead convenors said the term is a “very important word” in Filipino culture as it connotes a helpful hand in every Filipino family. Gumabao is the group’s advocate for “Women’s Psychosocial Empowerment and Mental Health.”
“Bago lang ang aming organization, pero malaki ang aming mga puso para tumulong,”she added, noting that Magdalena would be kicking off their first activity on Wednesday (September 8) to extend their help to the Hospicio de San Jose in Manila, a foster care facility whose orphans and staff were inflicted by the deadly virus of COVID-19.
Ramona Cecilia Muñoz, better known as model-actress Arci Muñoz, joined the virtual presser from abroad and said she was “very grateful to be part of the organization” as she expressed her desire to help our countrymen through the mission.
The ABS-CBN actress said, “Bilang isang artista, kami na nakikita ng mga tao, ng mga kabataan, and I want to be a really good example to them. So I want to tell the youth and the women that there is someone here for them. Someone out there na handing makinig sa kanila, sa mga problema nila. And who’s ready to speak up for them, to stand up for them and of course to inform them of their rights… and to guide them.”
Muñoz revealed that while studying at the University of the Philippines, she witnessed first hand how her classmates were recruited by militant left-leaning groups with some of them even cutting classes to join rallies. Some of their professors even coaxed students into joining such activities, the actress said.
Joining the mission as an advocate for the youth, Muñoz explained that the continuing youth recruitment by the CTGs must immediately be addressed to save students and teenagers, especially defenseless young girls.
“During my training in the Philippine Air Force… we were educated on these organizations (CTGs). Sana noong mga panahon palang iyon na estudyante ako, na mayroon taong nag-inform sa akin ng mga bagay na ito. So kami dito sa Magdalena Mission ay handang tumugon sa mga hinaing ng mga kababaihan, lalong lalo na ang mga kabataang kababaihan,” she added. The actress is also a reserve sergeant of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
She reiterated that the youths are the hope of the nation and our future. “Right now, we should be more accountable to one another, to have solidarity and to guide the children to the right path. For me it is time to stop all these violence and hate na hindi deserve na pinagdadaanan ng ating kabataan at lalong lalo na ang kababaihan ngayon.”
For her part, journalist and broadcaster Pia Roces Morato who is the advocate for the “Teachers and Education Sector” in the mission, said “education derived from insurgents destroy the basic unit of society—the family.”
“We are confronted by so much data that we struggle sometimes to disseminate” or not, she said, noting that what is needed is a “convergence” that all stake holders must come together to thwart the CTG’s deceptive tactics of educating the youth.
Margaux “Mocha” Uson, Deputy Executive Director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the mission’s advocate for OFWs and mothers, said her personal experience of having a mother with breast cancer made her vow to help women particularly those “batang ina”, referring to teenage mothers.
Meanwhile, various youth organizations also launched their National Youth Movement for Peace and Development at the virtual NTF-ELCAC press conference, a coalition of various youth groups advocating strong family and community relations.
This, they said, would show the widening support base from the grassroots for the task force and to prove that more people and groups are joining the peace and development bandwagon anchored on genuine care for one another.
The convention of the youth organizations which they now call League of Youth of the Philippines for Peace and Development (LYPPAD) Movement vowed to expose CTGs and their front organizations that duplicitously recruit students and young people into the armed faction.
A “Declaration of Manifesto of Support” was read by the leaders of the youth organizations, led by Bae Anna Jessa Mae Crisostomo of the Indigenous Peoples Youth Movement for Peace and Progress; Datu Jeffrey Jake Hanggam of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Youth Organization; Kuya Franz Liam Arubia of the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo; Kim Soguilon of the Supreme Student Council of the Philippines; and Engr. Christian Kier Beito of the Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through Our Youth Inc.