TIGLAO, Raquel A. Edralin

by Maria Katherine De-Jesus Clarin

Rock looked so calm in that picture where she was walking like a Dyosa (a goddess), in her softly flowing sundress in a beach in Bali. She told me then, that that beach is one of her most favorite places. That picture is how many of her sisters in the feminist movement remember her. That picture is enshrined at the women's NGO, Women's Crisis Center (WCC), an institution Rock headed for many years, providing safe refuge for countless women and girl-child survivors of rape, incest, abuse in intimate relationships, and other forms of violence against women (VAW).

Rock of course, is how Raquel Edralin-Tiglao is known and called, not just by close friends, but by all. And she really is like a rock to many – someone you can trust and anchor yourself on, through the difficulties you face. This is especially true for many, many survivors of VAW who Rock has devoted her life for.

Rock, together with her sisters at the Kalayaan Feminist Collective, at a time when feminism was still a “bad” word in the Philippines, refer to adherents of this movement who were seen as home-wreckers, and bra-burning, man-hating lesbos, fought to put women's rights as human rights at the discourse table among the left. Other issues she helped put the national spotlight on were reproductive rights, trafficking in women, the personal is political, and feminist counseling, among others. Now all these are household words, and many posers claim credit to mainstreaming them. But Rock was genuinely part of those at the forefront of having popularized these issues, from the grassroots to the national and international levels.

Such development was not surprising for Rock. If there is such as thing as being born an activist, Rock must be one of them. Even before her feminist days, Raquel Edralin, born in Manila, grew up in Mindanao, where her father was posted at the Bureau of Lands. Her mother, a nurse, a wife and mother reared eight children.

In college, Rock went to the University of the Philippines for a BA in Psychology, and joined the Kabataang Makabayan (KM). She was a regular at many anti-Marcos rallies and demonstrations, even helping organize a women workers’ union, a first in the '70's. She, like thousand others during the Martial Law years, became wanted by the military, so she stopped her schooling and went underground (UG).

Together with husband, Rigoberto "Bobby" Tiglao, Rock was captured and charged with sedition and rebellion. They were imprisoned for almost two years. Their eldest daughter, Ria, was with them at Fort Bonifacio.

 Upon their release and under house arrest, Rock resumed her UP studies, but had to quit again because of military surveillance. When they went to the US for husband Bobby's 1987 Harvard Fellowship, Rock took courses in psychology and women’s studies, visited women’s crisis centers, helped develop protocols for rape and domestic violence survivors, as well as train in feminist counseling.

These were seeds for her return to the country, where she actively worked with the Women’s Crisis Center, and together with sisters from Kalayaan, helped set-up many other feminist organizations and networks – the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, both the Philippine and Asia Pacific formations, WomanHealth, WEDPRO, KALAKASAN, the Sama-samang Pagkilos ng Kababaihan para sa Pagbabago ng Batas at Lipunan (SIBOL), to name a few. All these groups that Rock help found played a crucial role in bringing women's issues and concerns the limelight they deserve.

And Rock was doing all these even as she was, for years, been battling with cancer. In 2001, Rock succumbed. The women's movement, here and elsewhere mourned her loss, but surely Rock's legacy lives on. More precisely, Raquel Edralin-Tiglao continues to Rock On!

Birth: June 26, 1947

Death: February 28, 2001

Place of Death: Cardinal Santos Medical Center, San Juan, Metro Manila