To the women and the men (post-hike brain fart)

January 6, 2019

We were about 30 minutes away from the summit, then we heard it again. “'Yong mga lalaki, kaya 'yan. Pero kayong mga babae, 'yang bata, hindi (The men can do it. But you women, that child (Lia), can't).

This is not unusual  for male mountain guides. Female guides always prove to be doting, enthusiastic, and thrilled about hiking with fellow women (moreso, one who's under seven). However, half of male guides have given us dirty looks and snide remarks. They say, “You can’t because you’re a woman”.

There were seven women and four men in our group. All of us hiked for three hours, all putting the same amount of effort. Nobody among us asked to be carried, or have our packs carried for us. And with the exception of Lia and me - who are always last to arrive anywhere - everyone was hiking at the same speed.

But we weren't able to summit, not only because the guide forgot his jungle bolo - which would’ve been useful in hacking through thick and tall grass (as well as his food and water but hesitated to receive any food we offer) - he also didn't think we should and can summit based on our gender.

(This is why we need more female guides! And better training for all guides that they are not just there to show the way up, but provide the morale boost to all hikers to get there.)

Sometimes you get used to it, but when such perceptions become hindrances in moving forward, that’s when it becomes problematic. It's one thing to think of a gender a certain way, and another to keep people of said gender from realizing their greatness, no matter how well-intentioned it is. 

Women are not a pity project or an after-thought. Our sex isn't a disability or a setback. Some of us scale mountains, surf, or race. Some of us raise citizens. Some of us become CEOs, doctors, engineers, journalists, astronauts, leaders, authors, teachers, chefs, people who create and sell every day essentials, visionaries. And all of us have the ability and power to be great, no matter the size or age, just like men.

We must realize this and inculcate this in our children. Because discrimination doesn’t just exist in the mountains. It exists across all landscapes and industries. The lessons we teach our children are passed on from generation to generation, and if there is a flawed lesson that keeps being passed on, change will only remain a dream.

To the men who support and believe in women, thank you for choosing empowerment over misperception. May you always with us, side by side, believing that we can do life-changing things alone or with you.

To the women, may the people who discredit you not become a reason for you to stop believing in yourself. Do not let them prevent you from going further. Never tire of fighting for your greatness. You owe yourself that. 

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