"I invite you to be active in progressive women's organisations. Our mission is to defend our ancestral land, our rights and resources. Let us defend our natural resources for future generations!..Until such social inequities exist, we should not give up."
In the growing conflict between her people and the military, Maria rose to fight the oppression and harassment that the women in her community were experiencing. Since her first involvement in a leadership training conducted by CWEARC in the 1980s, her mind was broadened and learned about empowerment processes undergone by other women's organisations and leaders. Now, she hosts trainings herself, and continues to campaign for the rights of the indigenous peoples. With her track record of unceasing militancy, she became one of the founding members of the Save the Apayao People's Organization (SAPO), a local group set up to combat large mining projects. She is an indefatigable volunteer for SAPO, a member of various women, peasant and indigenous people's alliances, and simultaneously, working on her farm.
Her friends always chide her with, "Maria should be rich by now if not for her commitment to serve people's organisations". But Maria will always say with a laugh, "My wealth is living my value of serving fellow poor people". Indeed, Maria is woman with fire in her heart.
Nominated by: Cordillera Women's Education Action Research Center, Inc. (CWEARC)
Phone No.: +63 74 442 5347