Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 10, No. 4, April 2014
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Relief and Resilience Tour

Julia Carreon-Lagoc

This article was originally published in
Panay News, 24 February 2014

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This article is about the work of the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action (TIGRA), a social enterprise that helps migrants make economic choices that matter. Migration is a massive worldwide reality that must be considered as an integral part of solidarity-sustainability initiatives. For more information on a forthcoming TIGRA tour to the Philippines, click here.

Six months after Haiyan/Yolanda, the strongest storm ever in recorded history, a diverse group of environmentalists, economic development planners, immigrant rights activists, philanthropists, and students will participate in TIGRA’s Relief and Resilience Tour of devastated Philippines from May 25 - June 8, 2014.

A nongovernmental organization, TIGRA is the acronym for Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action. TIGRA and its partner organizations in the Philippines believe that community resilience begins at the grassroots where ordinary people are mobilized to effect change.

TIGRA’s mission is to build a “people-centered transnational framework” for organizing and developing opportunities for action-based strategies that strengthen cross-ethnic leadership and promote systemic change. Its key strategies include: engaging in policy change campaigns targeted at institutions with transnational reach; building of alternative institutions that are accountable to the economic and political needs of globalized constituents; nurturing of strategic grassroots leadership on global justice issues; and conducting grounded research and analysis.

Executive Director Francis Calpotura of TIGRA has mapped out three islands for the organization’s relief and resilience projects: Boracay, Bantayan, and Camotes Island.

In Bantayan, participants will witness how communities are rebuilding after typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda’s horrifying destruction. Together with local residents, they will undertake activities that promote sustainable development. Participants will also learn how to repair and rebuild boats side by side with the fisherfolks.

TIGRA, as a strategic partner of the Back to Sea Project, has been working to rebuild Bantayan in the wake of typhoon Haiyan. It has organized 15 fishing associations, funded boat-repair stations, and begun the long-haul process of community development planning. The Back to Sea Project has two major objectives: First, getting fisherfolk back to sea by facilitating the repair of boat and fishing implements. Second, promoting community-based governance that values local wealth and works towards sustainable coastal livelihood and community-based resource management. Participants will work alongside fisherfolks in the day-to-day rehabilitation process of the fisheries sector.

In Boracay, a prime tourist destination, there are thousands of households and tourist resorts which are not able to properly dispose of their lamp wastes. In partnership with the local Material Recovery Facilities, TIGRA is promoting the safe collection and recycling of fluorescent lamps as the first campaign in a multi-stakeholder movement for a sustainable Boracay.

Tour participants will work with residents who are starting a Lamp Waste Recycling project to prevent the spread of mercury. Fluorescent lamp wastes contain hazardous amounts of toxic mercury vapor.

TIGRA believes that the tourism sector ought to be responsible for the future of Boracay’s environment and the well-being of the communities therein including the right to food security and environmental justice. Through an awareness campaign and a collection drive using a mobile recycling technology, TIGRA’s lamp waste project will have a tangible impact on both community empowerment and the sustainability of coastal environments.

Tour participants will work in the waste recycling program in cooperation with the local waste recyclers in Boracay. The Tour will also see to the job creations in the island.

In beautiful Camotes Island, participants will learn how to build water catchment systems and learn about other local solutions to cnhance typhoon resilience. TIGRA, in partnership with the Permaculture Society of the Philippines, is working towards community resilience through water systems sufficiency.

Camotes Island is a water-poor and typhoon-prone area. By working to improve community-level water catchment systems, TIGRA is also involved in a wider educational campaign to discuss climate change and promote local solutions at the purok level to augment typhoon resilience.

Water catchment is one element in a sustainable design module that includes mangrove rehabilitation as a green wall to lessen the impact of typhoons. Another household scale solution is the rocket stove as an alternative to traditional charcoal made from cut-mangroves. Participants will work with the community in building water catchment systems and also involve themselves in a broad permaculture campaign.

TIGRA-Philippines will coordinate the Tour with the local partners in the three islands specified above. After the initial days of orientation, participants will be divided into three teams with each one going to one of the sites for a week. Participants come back together to share and debrief their experiences.

Immerse Yourself in Grassroots Resilience!—thus is the call of Director Francis Calpotura: “On this tour, you will learn about community-based solutions to climate change. Specifically, you will have the chance to work alongside coastal communities in Bantayan, Boracay, and Camotes Island to gain a unique understanding of emergent strategies of community-based resilience.” For more information, click here.


Julia Carreon-Lagoc is a journalist and writes the Accents column for Panay News, Philippines. She can be contacted at

What Does Your T-shirt Say?

Julia Carreon-Lagoc

This article was originally published in
Panay News, 10 February 2014

She couldn’t keep her curiosity to herself. And so, she popped out her question, “What does your T-shirt say? Karen opened her jacket and bared to one and all: JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE. Printed below the bold caps was: Let us not become the evil that we deplore. Karen said she loves wearing it because she fully adheres to her T-shirt’s message. Well, Karen, I do agree with that too. All of this was a light-hearted chat in our Current Events session at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center in Oakland, California.

I wonder what my fellow seventy-agers would ask if I come with my T-shirt bearing pitch-black pointed strokes: I have been to Hell. Curious?

Hell is the name of a town in the Grand Cayman Islands, one of the itinerary stops in the Caribbean cruise I took. Tourists walk on a plank and look down at a charcoal-black area about an acre wide. Protruding from the ground are charred stones with sharp, jagged edges that resemble spikes, misshapen stones that have drawn tourists to Hell. Most often, tour brochures exaggerate, and the town Hell is no exception.

What’s printed on a T-shirt could spark an interesting conversation. Some years ago, I chose an old T-shirt, a souvenir from our Iloilo Executive Toastmasters Club. It was fitted for California summertime. My daughter Rose’s family brought me to Alcatraz, an island-prison turned museum. I earned a WOW from a fellow tourist who turned out to be a Canadian toastmaster. “CTM or DTM?” he asked. I had painstakingly completed ten speech projects that earned for me the CTM title, Competent Toastmaster to the uninitiated. But DTM or Distinguished Toastmaster will never appear on my T-shirt, especially because I have long ceased being a club member.

It pays to advertise with or on a T-shirt with a LOVE logo. Think of all the beautiful sceneries painted on T-shirts which both foreigners and the locals gobble up for souvenirs. And how nice to endorse our very own tourist sites on our T-shirts. My Boracay blouse has opened conversations, inviting fellow tourists to experience the island’s incomparable powdery white sand that remains unequalled in the world.

Loyalty to one’s alma mater is manifest in the T-shirts we wear. I was asked by a fellow alumna to what class I belong when she saw me wearing the University of the Philippines T-shirt with the iconic Oblation statue. That started us unraveling memories of long ago. This reminds me of the 1995 Golden Jubilee of my alma mater, Oton High School. A precious souvenir is well-kept as a memento. With the forthcoming centennial of the San Antonio-San Nicolas Elementary School (SASNES) in May 2014, I expect a flood of T-shirts to be a hot sale for the alumni, all of 100 years, who have been introduced to the Pepe and Pilar primer. I wonder whether our forebears of the early 90s still have the breath of life in them to proudly don the centennial T-shirt.

A family event deserves to be memorialized in a T-shirt, e.g., our December 2000 Rivera Clan Reunion which spanned four generations — from a doddering ninety-ager to a toddler, to professional aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some flew from Australia, USA, and various parts of the Philippines—Manila, Mindanao, etc. All clan members wore the imprinted yellow T-shirt, symbol of an unforgettable, rousing, fun-filled four-day celebration of family ties.

I like my daughter Rose’s T-shirt that pays tribute to people who think differently, e.g., the few who think big or think smart. “Think Different” is printed in front and at the back is a one paragraph message: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The Misfits. The Rebels. The Trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” It ends with a reference: 1998 Apple Computer, “Think Different.” Go Google for further info.

Rose has another attention-hugging green T-shirt that entreats action: together we can. I find the catchphrase a persuasive call because behind it are enumerations of the world’s illnesses: environment disaster, child labor, HIV, AIDS, suffering, disease, death, selfishness, homelessness, sweatshops, poverty, etc. Printed in bold caps at the bottom is LOHAS which sent me searching in the worldwide web: “LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice.” Rose got the T-shirt from the LOHAS Forum. She and her husband Timothy are the joint founders and financial advisors of the Green Retirement Plans.

Rose has just given me a T-shirt from one of their conferences. The motif: a bold letter G in green with THE GREEN LINING INSTITUTE written on it. At the back are enumerations: "Leadership. Advocacy. Diversity. Opportunity. Equity. Community. Empowerment. People of Color. Vision. Progress. Strength. Communities of Color. Family. Justice. Engagement. The New Majority. Research."

Now back to the one liner. At Iloilo’s SM City mall, I remember wearing a black T-shirt that carried one big sentence in white: By reading this, you have given me brief control of your mind. The fellow read it, snickered, then looked at me with a smile. Approaching close by was a young man with just two words on his T-shirt: Clearly ambiguous. It certainly made me smile with its play on words. If I were to write on mine, it would be Beautifully simple or Simply beautiful, which defines me, saying what I really am.

You can be very innovative with whatever message you want your T-shirt to display. My son-in-law David had SUPER LOLO (Super Grandfather) for my husband Rudy, and NUMBER 1 LOLA (Number 1 Grandmother) for me — tags that encompass our TLC (tender loving care) for granddaughter Danika.

If I have to make a statement, a pronouncement, or a call to action if you will, it would be Makibaka! Huwag matakot! (Be Brave! Don’t Be Afraid) worn not with false bravado, but with courage and grim determination to push for a truly just, egalitarian, and democratic society in our beloved Philippines and for the whole world.

And now, you, what does your T-shirt say?


Julia Carreon-Lagoc is a journalist and writes the Accents column for Panay News, Philippines. She can be contacted at

Tradition Hindering Gender Equality

Hosia Beta

This article was originally published in
Nehanda Radio, 2 February 2014

Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwean Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development
The challenges women face in accessing health care and education, coupled with restrictions and the undermining of their political, economic, and social rights are some of the most damaging and egregious forms of direct and structural patriarchal violence.

Women and girls deserve to have their human rights recognized and enforced by communities to enable them to effectively participate in the development of the nation.

While global women’s movements have had some effect in confronting violence and reducing inequality, structural violence against women and girls remains stuck in Zimbabwean society.

Promotion of beliefs that perpetuate family name when a woman gets married has seen a situation where perpetrators of violence against women beget males who believe that they are more equal than girls.

Cultural and religious institutions perpetuate discrimination against girls through promoting beliefs that privilege males. For example when the father dies, many societies believe that the eldest son is the one who takes charge of the family.

Whenever they need a family representative for different functions like to appease the ancestors the eldest son will go ahead of other family members including the mother.

This gives men an upper hand in terms of preferences by societies who give them power to lead families and thus some end up abusing that power to sideline girls.

Traditional belief systems have had a negative impact on gender equality as men are believed to be the heads of families and women are expected to submit themselves to their husbands.

Women are taught to respect and not to challenge their husbands whether they are wrong or correct all in the name of saving the marriage.

Dowry payment in the past was used to create synergies between the family of the bride and the bridegroom but since the turn of the century things changed as families then began to use dowry payment for enrichment.

Some families go as far as marrying children to solve economic challenges. This is bad in that the girl is forced to submit to the husband and to endure their abuse in the marriage so that the family could continue to benefit from the husband.

If Zimbabwe is to achieve gender equality there is a need to address the traditional and backward systems that undermine the girl child.

The establishment of a specific ministry of women and gender development is a welcome development that needs to be complimented by establishing policies that do away with issues that perpetuate structural violence against girls and women to ensure that women are integrated and accepted as equal partners in societal development.

Gender inequality is deeply rooted in entrenched attitudes, societal institutions, and market forces and therefore political commitment at national level is essential to institute policies that can trigger social change and to allocate the resources necessary for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Education may be an important precondition to women’s empowerment, but it does not guarantee empowerment and gender equality. For education to be effective, society should create equal opportunities between men and women.

Equality means more than just parity in numbers. It means justice, equal opportunities, acceptance and tolerance in society. This should be supported by policies that promote general acceptance that women have a pivotal role to play in the development of the nation.


Hosia Beta is a creative artist and writer at the Media Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe.

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