By Mia Laarni Nacionales
Masculine. Audacious. Cocky. Dauntless. These are just some of the stereotypical responses of people when they see a group of motorcycling riders hovering the streets. Fair enough? Maybe, but if you are on the receiving end, those opinions are not exactly that appealing to the ears.
This is one of the main reasons why Mr. Aries Mendoza, President of Naked Wolves-Philippines, deemed it important that the members of his riders group become advocates of Male Responsibility on Gender And Development-Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya (MR GAD KATROPA). The said program is one of POPCOM’s strategies to reach out to the male population and open their minds to the duties and responsibilities attached with being the head of the household and/or being a male in the family/community as a whole.
Through Mr. Mendoza’s communication with Ms. Marilyn F. Ogaya, along with the support of Regional Director Lydio M. Español, Jr. and GAD focal person Ms. Cheryl Marie A. Malayang, the orientation on MR GAD-KATROPA for Naked Wolves-Philippines was made possible. The activity was conducted last August 20-21, 2016 at Caliraya Laguna. It was attended by the Naked Wolves-Philippines motorcycling riders together with their official back-riders, usually their spouse. A total of sixty (60) participants attended the activity (45 males, 15 females) with the objective targeted on capacitating the group of riders with the ability to recognize gender issues and identify the different perceptions and interests arising from their various social positions and gender roles. The design of the two-day activity was a mixture of plenary and breakout sessions wherein the male participants were separated from the female participants at one point.
The topics discussed were focused on the roles of the male in taking care and improving wellness of the family and the community as a KATROPA. The speakers from POPCOM IV also shared presentations that allowed the participants to gain tips and ideas on how to better handle issues within the family and themselves as individuals. One of the breakout sessions also included topics on Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) for the female participants to be made aware of their own rights and their children’s rights when faced with adversities. Personal anecdotes from both the male and the female participants during the sessions made the discussion more meaningful for them, and for the speakers.
The concluding part of the seminar involved the male participants reading their love letters out loud to their spouses. It was a different experience for them because men are not really that open when it comes to expressing their thoughts and feelings. Thus, tears were inevitable when it came to the reading of said letters; it was mostly tears of joy, of course. The participants also got the chance to explore the venue, bond with their partners and fellow participants after the seminar, which made their connection even stronger.
As the activity ended, Mr. Mendoza shared how grateful he was to POPCOM IV for granting his request. He expressed that at first his main intention was to break the stereotype of how society viewed motorcycling riders, but what they were able to take away after undergoing the seminar/orientation was so much more meaningful than that. Even the members of the group who gave an impression of the activity declared how they were able to develop a deeper sense of appreciation towards shared responsibility between men and women in society. Mr. Mendoza also assured that their group will soon pilot their own MR GAD-KATROPA to other chapters of Naked Wolves-Philippines, with the trained members as speakers, in order to continue to spread the GAD lens.
Seeing how the participants of the seminar have become advocates of GAD after just a short time, POPCOM IV has achieved yet another milestone in being able to break societal stereotypes on gender and gender roles by tapping into a group like Naked Wolves to extend GAD lens in their community.