Tribute to Pet Cleto, writer, activist

Community Opinion & Analysis Jan 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Pet-Cleto_CMYK-225x300Red Salute to Kasama Petronila Cleto

MAKIBAKA, a revolutionary women’s organization and allied member of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines gives a Red Salute to Kasama Petronila Cleto and pays tribute to a revolutionary woman, defender of human rights, journalist, writer, editor and organizer.

Makibaka extends condolences to Pet’s daughter, Cynthia, to her family, relatives and to the numerous kasama who regarded her as the Tita ng Bayan.

Pet, as we all called her, passed away last January 11, 2018, in a Toronto hospital, after a short illness. Her sudden passing shocked everyone, as just before her illness, she was still up and about, doing her numerous revolutionary tasks.

I met Pet years ago, in one of my trips to Canada. She impressed me with her quiet strengh, ready smile, and helpfullness.

As I got to know Pet, my admiration for her grew.

She was passionate about women’s issues, and as a woman activist, was one of the organizers and active members of Gabriela Ontario.

In the 1980’s, Pet was one of the founders of Gabriela Philippines, Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott (WOMB), Concerned Mothers League and the first Philippine women’s political party, KAIBA. She helped establish the Women’s Crisis Centre in 1989 and was a member of it’s board and staff.

She went on self-exile to Canada where she continued her activism and used her skill in writing to organize and inform the Canadian people about what was happening in the Philippines.

She edited two volumes of AKDAAN Literary Anthology, compiling the works of Filipino writers in exile. She was already working on the third volume, and, was planning on writing a novel.

I was in Montreal when she went there to promote the first volume of AKDAAN. I was amazed that, inspite of all her political work, and all her other activities, she had the time, patience and dedication to work on the anthology.

In Canada, she was invited to join the Writers in Exile Network of PEN Canada.

She invited me on several occasions to go to Canada to meet and speak to Filipino-Canadian women and men. I always appreciated the invitations and learned much from my trips there.

The last time I saw Pet was on TV Migrante, when she and Louie Queano interviewed Professor Jose Maria Sison. She was a pro at hosting the show. This was a few days before she passed away.

We will all miss Pet. We will miss her smile, her warmheartedness, her energy and most of all, her dedication to the struggle of the Filipino people, especially the women’s struggles.

And it is with great hope that the example of her life of commitment to the National Democratic Struggle of the Filipino people, will inspire many young women and men to follow in her footsteps.

Mabuhay ang diwa ni Kasama Pet!

Coni Ledesma
Makibaka International Representative, June 12, 2018

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From left: Mary Parenno, Pet Cleto, Lui Queaño, Ysh Cabana at launching of Akdaan book 2. (Reporter's file copy)

From left: Mary Parenno, Pet Cleto, Lui Queaño, Ysh Cabana at launching of Akdaan book 2. (Reporter’s file copy)

 

Gabriela sister, staunch women’s rights activist, journalist

GABRIELA Philippines extends our deepest sympathies to the family, comrades, and friends left behind by Petronila Cleto, GABRIELA Ontario leader, an exemplary writer, journalist, a warm and loving kasama, truly a revolutionary woman.

As we mourn her sudden passing, we give our highest salute to a fellow GABRIELA who, up to her last days, remained active in the women’s movement and strived for women’s rights and freedom from all forms of exploitation and abuse especially for women migrants in Canada where she has been residing.

Tita Pet, as we fondly called her, was a founding member of GABRIELA in 1984, and helped found and lead organizations such as the Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott (WOMB) fighting against Martial Law in the Philippines. Later on in 1989 she became a board member of the Women’s Crisis Center, an organization that provides services for women victims of gender-based violence. She continued to be part of various women’s and people’s organizations even as she later migrated to Canada.

Tita Pet was part of the Organizing Committee for the Montreal International Women’s Conference in 2010, the conference that founded the International Women’s Alliance (IWA). Tita Pet not only participated in the political debates during the conference but warmly welcomed women activists and conference participants by providing them much needed logistical guidance and support. Her work as a writer and journalist helped in publicizing the conference and the issues of women as she patiently reached out to friends in the media and the press industry.

As part of GABRIELA Ontario, Tita Pet helped and lead campaigns for the rights of migrant workers especially Filipino women and to end discriminatory practices and laws in Canada. She provided guidance to young activists by sharing her experience and lessons learned from her decades of activism in the Philippines and in Canada. Despite being a seasoned activist, she actively participated in educational discussions and showed her willingness to listen and learn from younger activists. She would constantly update GABRIELA Philippines on the issues and campaigns of GABRIELA Ontario and visited the office whenever she is in the country.

Last August 2017, during an anti-imperialist conference in Canada organized by the International League of People’s Struggle and IWA, despite lingering illness, she did not hesitate to take tasks and actively participate in the conference. Warm as she has always been to all kasamas, she made sure to spend time sharing and discussing with GABRIELA members from the US, Philippines, Europe and comrades from other countries.

As we say goodbye to Tita Pet, we are forever grateful to her, for spending time, talent, skills and her life fighting for women’s rights and for genuine freedom and democracy for all oppressed people. We will always remember her warmth and generosity, we will forever cherish time spent with this loving and fun sister, mother, tita, and kasama.

Taas kamao at pinakamataas na pagpupugay para kay Pet Cleto!

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tita-pet-article-image_origActivist and Community Broadcaster Tita Pet Dies at 72

By Vibe105

We salute the life of VIBE105 Ambassador Petronila Cleto who was a human rights activist, woman rights advocate, journalist, editor, writer, organizer and long-time community broadcaster.

We want to share our condolences to one of our most stalwart contributors and extend our sincerest condolences to her close family and many allies across the country that will miss her light and contribution to the many causes that impacted our communities.

We all knew her as ‘Tita Pet’. Right up until she passed away at the age of 72 (due to complications related to multiple organ failure) on January 11, 2018 – she was fighting her generous fight on behalf of the communities that she championed tirelessly.

Her list of accolades and media contributions extends beyond the scope of average belief. Tita Pet was a powerful advocate for women’s issues, and as an activist, was one of the organizers and active members of Gabriela Ontario. She was also a key contributor alongside our own Louie Queano on TV Migrante (a visual broadcast platform that supplemented her contributions on radio).Randy Reid, General Manager and CEO of VIBE105.5 FM remembers her as…

“…a kind and fair person. She always kept me honest and with very little effort, encouraged me to remember to stay true our core values.” He continues to state that “Tita Pet was easily one of the most memorable faces among our vast number of contributors because of her true passion for the causes she stood for. I will forever hold her in my heart as a best practice for staying the course toward the good fight. We love you Tita Pet!”

Tita Pet arrived to Canada in the 90’s where she continued her activism roots which originated in many years overseas back home in the Philippines and used her considerable writing skill to organize and inform the Canadian population about what was happening in the Philippines.

She edited two volumes of AKDAAN Literary Anthology, compiling the works of Filipino writers in exile. She was already working on the third volume, and, was planning on writing a novel.Please join us in memorializing Petrolina (Tita Pet) Cleto for all she has contributed to our mass community, her family and friends. We will miss her undying commitment to championing a voice for the voiceless, her dedication to all Filipino people and more over her staunch support of women’s issues. Accomplishments:

•    Founding contributor of Gabriela Philippines,

•    Women for the Ouster of Marcos and Boycott (WOMB),

•    Concerned Mothers League and

•    Member of the first Philippine women’s political party, KAIBA.

•    She helped establish the Women’s Crisis Centre in 1989 and was a member of it’s board and staff.

•    In Canada, she was invited to join the Writers in Exile Network of PEN Canada.

•    Member of Radyo Migrante (heard on VIBE105 from 1-2PM evey Sunday), award winner of the NCRA Language Content Award 2013 and 2016 J.S. Woodward Award for Human Rights and Equity

•    Member of TV Migrante•    Lecturer at George Brown College

Petronila Cleto is survived by daughter Cynthia, sister Ruth Cleto-Dunn and a brother, Dr. Samuel Cleto (Winnipeg) ​

Pet Cleto (seated, left), with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Philippine Reporter staff at Ethnic Press Holiday party 2016.

Pet Cleto (seated, left), with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Philippine Reporter staff at Ethnic Press Holiday party 2016.

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KASAMANG TUNAY
(Awit para kay Tita Pet)

Ikaw ay totoo hindi na lalayo
Laging malalapitan at masusumbungan
At kahit na ano pa mang mga kwento
Laging makikinig at may pusong totoo

Ikaw na nagbigay ng lahat mong panahon
Upang kalimutan sarili’t kapakanan
Dakilang pagsisilbi ang iyong inalay
Kaibigan ng lahat at Kasamang tunay

Koro:

Siya’y aking kaibigan, laging kadamay
At lagi’t-laging Kasamang tunay
Aking pagmamahal sana ay hindi kulang
Maghahatid sa iyo sa bago mong pupuntahan

(Aking kaibigan Kasamang tunay)
Aming kaibigan, Kasamang tunay)

Liriks at musika
Lui Queano
Enero 11 2018

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KASAMA
(Kay Tita Pet)

Kanina sa kanyang tagiliran
Namuo ang luhang gumaygay
At banig itong lumatag
Bikig na pumulak sa lalamunan
Habang laylay siyang bigat
Na kinarga ng kama sa ospital
Pilit niyang ibinabangon ang katawan
Batbat ng mga turok ng swero
Pudpod na manggas na bistida
Sa mabining katawan
Gaya ng mahabang edad na damdam:
Sakit sa tiyan
Hiningang hindi maidighay
Pusong nanaghoy.
Ngunit ang kasama’y may tigas at tapang
May rubdob ng paglaban
Hindi maigugupo ng sakit at mikrobyo
Kagaya ng rebolusyong malaon nang
Bumuhay sa kasamang
Kagaya rin ng karamihan’y
Nagsindi ng sulo sa daan ng paglaya!

Lui Queano
Enero 10 2018
Scarborough On