MANILA, January 3, 2004 (STAR) FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas - I felt sad and happy at the same time when I read that Gina de Venecia is not running for the Senate. Sad because it seemed she had the chance of winning in the senatorial elections, considering the following that she’s developed during the last few years as a sincere supporter of battered women and children, and her radio and TV programs and column in Balita that have espoused women’s causes. But her husband, House Speaker Joe de Venecia, said no. I would have been up in arms against the couple’s decision for Gina not to run. But listening to their reason for her to stay out of politics at this time I’m convinced they made the right decision, and that makes me happy.

The Speaker is clearly going to run for re-election in May, and it would not be politically correct for both of them to run for office. Gina’s not running avoids the issue of "politcal dynasty." We all know that very many elected officials have sons and daughters and aunts and uncles also running – and in many cases winning their gubernatorial or mayoral bids.

Gina who is in her early 40s, is still young, and as time passes, she will have become more politically mature to be able to assume the tasks of a senator. For now she can pursue her special interests. From 1992 to 1998 and from 2001 to May this year, she has been president and chair of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI). She was mainly responsible for the establishment of The Haven in 1995 and the 15 regional rehabilitation centers for women. For seven years, she hosted the radio program, Nagmamahal, Manay Gina, over DZBB; now the program is also televised over GMA-7. She writes a column for Balita. For all her achievements, Gina received many awards – for Gintong Ina, Mother of Public Service, Ideal Woman of the Year, the Distinguished Public Servant, and Advancing the Status of Women. In 2001, Mindanao State University conferred her the Doctorate degree in Humanities.

Well, Gina, aim for the next senatorial election. Count me in as one of your supporters.

Now movie producers will have to start thinking about putting the gender factor in their productions. Starting last year, a film has been awarded "Most Gender Sensitive Film" by Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, and every year, the search for films under this category will continue. The first awardee is Homecoming, which was shown during the Metro Manila Film Fest last month.

Ruby Beltran, head of the QC Gender and Development Office, says the award is given to the film "that best portrays relevant and realistic issues related to gender concerns such as the status and contributions of women in relation to men, the community, society and nation-building; depiction of traditional biases which challenge the roles of men and women within social institutions as the family, religion, education and media and how these gender biases were managed or redeemed in the film towards equality and empowerment of the lead male and female characters."

Homecoming is the story of female OFWs who have carried the burden of poverty for the family. Alessandra de Rossi, in her role as Abigail, represents Filipinas who make up about 70 per cent of the total number of OFWs who leave the country to work abroad, majority of them to be employed in high-risk, low-pay and "dirty" jobs as domestics and caregivers.

Joy Belmonte, chair of the QC Performing Arts Foundation and one of the jurors, said that the redemptive value of the film is the victorious character of Abigail which emerged despite SARS, the death of her brother, the separation of her parents and betrayal of her boyfriend. According to Joy, the film Crying Lady, though, won more points than Homecoming in the use of cinematic technique in imparting the core message of the story.

Homecoming is a production of Teamwork Productions‚ whose director, Gil Portes, expressed optimism that the film will catch fire abroad when it is shown in major destination countries of OFWs with the help of migrant NGOs like SENTRO ng Mangagawang Pilipina. SENTRO Director Justice Leonor Luciano is seeking the help of DOLE to promote the film.

The QC award for most gender-sensitive film is a project of the QC Gender and Development Resource and Coordinating Office under Mayor Belmonte. Noteworthy is the city’s being the first in Metro Manila to establish a Gender and Development (GAD) Council as mandated by RA 7192, the law mandating all local government and national offices to pursue policies, plans and programs for the uplift of women and equal rights between the sexes.

The first awardee was given an extraordinary 34-inch trophy especially designed by multi-awarded painter-sculptor Sandra Torrijos.

For more information and orientation on gender concerns, contact Lee Topacio and Rudy Sansaet of the QC GAD-media team, 4345303/4349854.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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