MANILA – Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla on Wednesday said the wearing of hijab will unite women in the country as he expressed his gratitude that many women in the Senate, including Christians, wore it as a show of unity with their Muslim brethren.
Padilla, chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Community and Muslim Affairs, led the commemoration of World Hijab Day and thanked the Senate leadership for allowing the holding of the ceremony.
"Napakasarap na makita ang mga nagsusuot ng hijab, nakangiti at sila ay excited (It is very good to see you wearing hijab and smiling and excited). May Almighty God bless you all,” Padilla said in a speech.
By wearing the hijab, he said women will experience the trials that Muslim women go through, including discrimination.
This is not a matter of religion but of culture, he added.
Padilla said hijab, which means freedom and respect for one’s culture and belief, will unite all citizens regardless of religion.
Padilla also voiced hopes that Senate Bill 1410, which he co-authored to institutionalize National Hijab Day in the Philippines on Feb. 1, will be passed in the 19th Congress.
"Malungkot man sabihin, marami pa tayong kababayan ang hindi nakakaintindi ng ibig sabihin ng hijab (Sad to say, many Filipinos still do not understand the significance of wearing a hijab)," he said.
Padilla urged Muslims and non-Muslims alike to listen to the voices of hijabi, or women who wear the hijab.
He also paid tribute to the Bangsamoro Parliament for passing last Jan. 25 Resolution No. 162, which supports setting Feb. 1 as National Hijab Day.
National Hijab Day bill
Meanwhile, Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman urged senators to approve their own version of the National Hijab Day bill that was already passed by the House of Representatives last year.
“As we commemorate World Hijab Day with the rest of the world, it is my sincerest prayer that this measure passes the Senate’s scrutiny. Sana (Hopefully), this time around, maging batas na ito para sa susunod na taon ay National Hijab Day na ang ating ipinagdiriwang (this will be passed into law so that by next year, we will be celebrating our own National Hijab Day),” said Hataman during a short program commemorating the 10th World Hijab Day at the North Wing Lobby of the House of Representatives.
“It will be a big win in the fight against religious discrimination,” he said.
Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is one of the principal authors of House Bill No. 5693 which was approved on the third and final reading in November last year, and transmitted to the Senate.
The Senate version has already been approved at the committee level and waiting for plenary deliberations.
The Muslim lawmaker said his proposed measure includes an education campaign provision that aims to enlighten the knowledge and understanding of our countrymen on the tradition of Muslim women of wearing a hijab, that this is part of their expression of their religious right.
“Ang hijab ay simbolo ng dangal at dignidad ng mga Muslim, hindi instrumento ng diskriminasyon. Kaya naman, tinatawagan ko ang mga kagalang-galang nating mga senador na aprubahan na ang National Hijab Day Bill, para nang sa gayon ay masimulan na ang pambansang pagmumulat at pagtutuwid ng maling kaalaman (The hijab is a symbol of honor and dignity of Muslims, not an instrument of discrimination. That is why I am calling on our honorable senators to approve the National Hijab Day bill so that we can start the national reformation and correction of mistaken beliefs),” Hataman said.
“Nagsisimula ang diskriminasyon sa isip, sa maling paniniwala, na maitutuwid lamang sa pamamagitan ng tamang pagtuturo sa kahalagahan ng hijab sa kultura at pananampalataya ng mga Moro (Discrimination starts from the mind, from mistaken beliefs, that can only be corrected through a proper education on the importance of the hijab in Moro culture and faith)” he added.
Speaker Martin Romualdez fully supported Hataman, saying World Hijab Day is celebrated in recognition of a very basic human right - the right to the free exercise of religion.
“It is a right that is enshrined in our very Constitution. In this instance, it is to recognize the right of every Muslim woman who chooses to wear the hijab as an expression of her faith,” he said in the same program.
However, he noted that instead of demonstrating the rich cultural and religious significance of the hijab to the Islamic faithful, it often becomes the object of discrimination, which “hampers our ability to grow and mature as a country and society with diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, and is therefore a deterrent to nation-building.”
“Tama po ang ating butihing congressman from Basilan: kailangan nating ituwid ang paniniwala tungkol sa pagsusuot ng hijab (Our good congressman from Basilan is right: we need to correct the mindset on the wearing of the hijab). We need to mandate, by force of law, pathways to understanding that instead of discriminating against those who wear the hijab, we should honor and recognize their right. We need to make our citizens understand the true meaning or symbol of the hijab, which is to live a life of modesty as a Muslim woman,” the Speaker said.
“I congratulate the organizers of this event for the success of our commemoration of World Hijab Day 2023. And I sincerely hope that this time around, the National Hijab Day Bill will become a law. Rest assured that we will have the force of the leadership of the House behind this all the way,” he added. (PNA)