There are many women who embrace the sacrifices and challenges of life in the New People’s Army (NPA). With firmness, they perform their tasks as equal counterparts of male fighters. These women include Paolin, Mimi and Jellyn, young women fighters from various walks of life who found acceptance and equality in the people’s army.
Ka Paolin, revolutionary mother
Ka Paolin is a member of a propaganda and education committee in a province. She serves as teacher to her comrades who are unable to read and write. She also teaches cultural performances, and mass and Party courses.
Her parents are both leading cadres of the Party and NPA. She decided to follow their footsteps and joined the people’s army when she turned 18. This was where she met her husband.
She became pregnant and temporarily went on leave of absence to ensure the safe delivery of her baby at the height of martial law in Mindanao. She was very stressed as she knew that soldiers would not respect her rights as a nursing mother.
With a heavy heart, she had to leave and entrust her three-month old baby to the care of a trusted relative. Returning to the NPA unit, she brought with her photographs of her child. Upon arriving back in camp, she was welcomed by her mother with a tight embrace. “Now, you probably already know why I had to entrust you to your lola,” her motherly jokingly told her while in tears.
Ka Mimi, semi-proletariat
Ka Mimi is a platoon medic. She is responsible for ensuring the health of comrades and cleanliness in camp. This pandemic, she actively participates in conducting medical missions and education campign on Covid-19 in communities within their unit’s area of responsibility. As a fighter, she feels very fulfilled seeing the trust of barriofolk whom they serve.
Ka Mimi hailed from a city. At the age of 18, she worked as a contractual employee of a palm oil processing plants. In one of these, she received a measly ₱180-daily wage for 12 hours of work. The amount is lower by ₱100 compared to what her male counterparts receive. Like other factory employees, she was not allowed to sit, only allowed to have a 30-minute lunchbreak, and limited bathroom breaks. She had no health benefits.
As her salary was not enough to make ends meet, she was pushed to engage in several antisocial activities to feed her children. She was also abused by her husband who once electrocuted her.
Ka Mimi first met and spoke to comrades when she returned to her home province. She attended an educational discussion in an NPA camp and decided to stay there for a week until she decided to become a full-time fighter.
Ka Jellyn, Lumad
Ka Jellyn, a Manobo, is a company supply officer and a platoon political instructor. She does not find life in the people’s army different as she is used to life in the mountains. As a child, she would help her parents do household chores and harvest sweet potatoes at their farm.
She joined the NPA in November 2014 at the age of 18. In 2018, she was able to take part in an NPA ambush against a unit of the 66th IB wherein 17 soldiers were killed. One Red fighter was killed on their part. Ka Jellyn said that this has not terrified her, but has further strengthened her revolutionary spirit. She said that she fully knows that death is a part of warfare. However, she is also aware that fighters should at all times be careful and follow regulations in order to lengthen their service to the revolution.
Like Ka Paolin at Ka Mimi, Ka Jellyn is inspired whenever she gets to meet the masses and see that they trust her. In deep regard, the masses especially women often ask them: Is life not the peoples army? Are you not afraid? What is it like to be a woman in the people’s army? They are conscious that by serving as Red fighters, they are able to gradually contradict and break the low stereotypes against women. They prove themselves capable of shouldering various lines of work, including military work.