On 25 November, members of the Zonta Club of Pampanga in the Philippines trooped to the Salakot Arch in Clarkfield, Pampanga, armed with nothing but vigor in promoting a community free of violence against women (VAW).
The iconic Salakot Arch, a symbol of Fil-Am friendship, was adorned with orange cloth. While chanting “VAW free Philippines starts with me,” Zontians and other attendees witnessed the arch turn orange as it was lit with orange lights. The lighting was immediately followed by a magnificent fireworks display.
The “Orange Your Icon (OYI)” advocacy initiative is an activity spearheaded by the Philippine Commission on Women and the Department of Tourism, which seeks to raise awareness in ending VAW “through decorating or embellishing famous and prominent tourism sites or attractions in the country with something that is colored orange.”
Club President Karen Anne Guevarra gave a brief lecture on Republic Act 9262, otherwise known as the Anti Violence Against Women and Children Act. She also gave an overview of the other laws protecting women such as the Anti-Rape, Anti-human trafficking, and anti-sexual harassment laws.
She stressed that eradicating violence against women is not solely women’s task but acknowledges that men in society equally plays a crucial role. As she put it, “Do not teach girls how to dress. Teach boys how to see.”
The club also placed signs on the fence around the Salakot Arch that say, “Violence-free community starts with me.” The signs remained throughout the 16 Days of Activism until 10 December.