V-Day opens via poetry and art

By Jelanie Rose T. Elvinia and Kristine Ann M. Fernandez

“Empow ering” poems writt en by women detailing their experiences and emotions were presented as part of the V-Day celebration last Feb. 10 at the Luce Auditorium lobby.

Michele Joan Valbuena, Dumaguete V-Day organizer, said the poetry reading aims to acknowledge women’s work in literature and to understand their anger, joy, happiness and love, among others.

Valbuena added that the “V” stands for three things: Valentine’s, as it is celebrated in February; vagina, as a sign of their call to end violence against women and girls; and victory among women, as it is the goal of their campaign.
“V-Day is an event that empowers women by reminding people that oppression against women should come to an end.

Because it’s only when all of the oppression ends that injustices can also truly come to an end,” she said.

She also said they want to change the popular notion of Valentine’s Day as a “dating day for couples” by making people aware that “we have to express love to everyone, even to the environment.” Valbuena added that they also hope to transform people’s perspective of the word “vagina” as a “curse word.”

“We want to reclaim [the word vagina], that it is not a curse word.

It is simply a female organ – the part that defines women and the part that is much violated in terms of rape,” she said.
Meanwhile, last Feb. 14, the V-Day movement launched at Robinsons Dumaguete the first
ever all-women art exhibit in the city entitled “Herstory,” which showcased talents of 35 women artists.

Ratzel Salvarita, organizer and curator of the exhibit, said the event was a celebration of art by women of different ages and backgrounds.
“It is an intergenerational kind of fusion of women really celebrating arts through their paintings,” he said.
The title “Herstory” was inspired by Australian contemporary abstractionist Elle Divine’sart exhibit entitled, “Mapping the History of Herstory,” which was held in Dumaguete last month.
Salvarita said they “played around with the idea of ‘Herstory’” because the word “history” is often used.
“[Herstory] became a symbol and a word for women which thrusts also the campaign to really empower women and utilize their creativity through painting, movement and poetry,” he said.

He added that he hopes the exhibit will be “replicated in a wider scope not just in Dumaguete” but also globally.
“It’s rippling. The effect of [Elle Divine’s exhibit] is now gaining impact [and many are] joining in the wave of highlighting the experiences and the stories of women through art,” he said.

The event was organized by the Women’s Justice Fair, Salonga Center for Law and Development, Silliman University Law Alumni Association, SU Law Batch 2014, and Foundation University Law Forum.
V-Day is a global activist movement celebrated every Feb. 14 and was started in 1998 by author and playwright of episodic play The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler.

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