Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima may be detained on trumped-up drug charges but her continued political persecution did not stop her from inspiring Filipinos here and abroad who recognize her steadfast fight for justice and human rights.
Take internationally-acclaimed Filipino fashion designer Mitch Desunia who went the extra mile to honor De Lima’s courage and resilience by creating a special gown dedicated to the Senator.
Desunia, previously based in London, United Kingdom, presented the blue gown with black shawl/”panuelo” at the first Manila Fashion Ball which was organized for the benefit of single mothers and women suffering from domestic violence.
“I made this gown for her para sa Manila Fashion Ball. This is representing her. Sinukat niya mismo ito when I visited her at Camp Crame, Custodial Center. I chose the blue color kasi yung color na ito yung favorite color niya talaga,” Desunia said in an interview.
“This black ribbon (‘panuelo’) symbolizes sadness and oppression na gliterry siya because sometimes kahit tayo ay oppressed at malungkot, we still have to put some spark in our lives,” added the fashion designer.
The Fashion Ball, which happened last Oct. 25 at the Manila Polo Club, Makati City, showcased Desunia’s designs which were modelled mostly by Rotarians and businesswomen.
Since it was not possible for De Lima to grace the event, Desunia displayed the gown she created for the Senator on stage – a gesture De Lima “appreciated.”
In her message read by Fr. Robert Reyes during the ball, De Lima pointed out that gender does not limit what women can be and what they can contribute to society.
“We have successful women who have done exemplary works in politics, business, and in various sectors and different industries and professions. They have marked their place in history and continue to inspire people around the world with their strength, courage and leadership,” she said.
However, despite the rise of empowered women, De Lima lamented that many women continue to be abused and discriminated but choose to be mum about it.
“Many women, unfortunately, choose to keep quiet and submissive despite the physical, emotional and psychological abuses they suffer because of threats on their lives and fear of unfair public judgment,” she said.
As Senator, a mother of two, a daughter, a woman, and a Filipina, De Lima vowed to never be silenced despite the prevailing culture of misogyny and discrimination against women here in the country and even abroad.
“My personal and professional experience have taught me how society can be cruel and sometimes even brutal towards women. But I choose to fight and to stand up amid these very challenging times,” De Lima said, adding that she will “not waver in fighting for our dreams, rights, and freedom.” In these times where being a woman remains a challenge, Desunia said she hopes the event can remind women of the battle De Lima is fighting and encourage them to stand up and fight their respective battles, especially if they are fighting for what is right and just.