In continuing partnership with the UP Diliman Gender Office headed by Director Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel and the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos’ Commission on Women headed by its newly appointed Commissioner Hon. Dalisay Aaliyah Macadawan, the Institute of Islamic Studies celebrated Hijab Day with “Hijab Challenge,” a forum designed as a talk show, Hijab fashion show and exhibit all rolled into one.
Hijab Challenge was held last February 1 and 7 respectively, where IIS Hijab Teams visited selected offices within UP Diliman and issued the challenge. Non-Muslim officials, employees, and students were invited to wear the Hijab for one whole day. On February 4, 2019, the forum “World Hijab Day 2019” with the theme “Breaking Stereotypes, Shattering Boundaries” was held featuring selected representatives coming from last year’s “Hijab challengers” in UP Diliman and non-Hijabi Muslim women. The talk show was anchored by Dean Macrina Morados.
The talk show reflects this year’s leveled up Hijab discourse which sought to look at other perspectives and contexts besides the common concern of having the right to wear the Hijab. In other words, it also dealt with the experiences of non-Muslim women who tried wearing Hijab for a day and the plight of non-Hijabi Muslim women who are being discriminated for not choosing to wear Hijab. The first group was represented by Ms. Ma. Theresa Reamon, Administrative Staff of DZUP 1602 and Ms. Cindy Cruz-Cabrera, Gender and Development Officer of UP Diliman Gender Office. On the part of non-Hijabi Muslim women, invited guests included Hon. Amina Rasul of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, who is also a member of the MSU System Board of Regents; Captain Hannah Paisa, a member of the Philippine Military Academy corps of Professors; and Ms. Baibonn Sangid, a Bangsamoro human rights advocate and a graduate student of the Institute.
The Hijab fashion show displayed the different types of Muslim women headgear such as Purdah, Burka, and Hijab. It also demonstrated mix-match options of Hijab with executive dress, sporty dress, the colorful dress of Southeast Asian Muslims, the traditional black dress of Middle Eastern Muslims, and the simple combination of Hijab with a long sleeved dress and trousers. Pictures of participants from the previous “Hijab Challenge” events since 2016 were displayed at the exhibit.
Besides being part of the World Hijab Day celebration, the program was also held in observance of the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week. The United Nations, in its resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on October 20, 2010, has proclaimed the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. This resolution has mandated member countries, churches, temples and places of worship to observe weeklong programs that seek to promote mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue in as much as they constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace by establishing harmony between people regardless of various religions.
Praising the program in her Facebook account, Director Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel of UP DGO says, “The content and the way the forum was organized were commendable. It was balanced, substantial, critical and liberating” (Translated from Filipino). It was a well attended forum represented by personalities in the academe, women’s sector, interfaith partners, students and friends of the IIS.
IIS thanks Hijab sponsors Engineer Sadoun Abd’ Ul-Aziz and his wife Khadijah Zainab Carmela for their generosity; Ms. Zeny-Linda S. Nandu, graduate student of IIS, for the use of Baluy Laminusa, a native mat from Sulu, as part of the decoration; and the following UP Diliman offices and colleges for accepting the Hijab Challenge this year: Accounting Office, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Office of Scholarships and Student Services, College of Music, Center for International Studies, School of Statistics, Office of University Registrar, Office of Admissions, Budget Office, College of Arts and Letters, Asian Center, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration, Office of the Chancellor, and UP Human Resource Development Office.