By now, you probably know what has happened because like ours, your social media feeds are on fire with words and memes of disbelief and anger, all targetted at Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.
At the confirmation hearing of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Sen. Sotto made a huge mistake when he wanted to go on a "lighter note" by asking Sec. Taguiwalo about her personal life in front of the Commission on Appointments (CA). He remarked that she had two daughters, but noted the fact she was still single.
Taguiwalo responded by explaining her non-conventional family life. "I never had a whole mother-father-children kind of thing, except when I was growing up in Bacolod," she said. She brought up that she graduated from UP in 1970 and from 1972 to 1986, she did organizing work. "It has been a life underground or in prison. My story would be different from the stories of those who have gone through corporations, et cetera," Taguiwalo said.
That's when Sen. Sotto, who has two daughters who are single moms, quipped, "In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag lang ay na-ano lang," he said, prompting "soft laughter" from the audience during the hearing.
To our immense relief, Sec. Taguiwalo did not let Sen. Sotto's remark pass. She replied in a firm but calm manner, "Senator Sotto, I teach women's studies. We respect all kinds of families, and that includes solo parents. Thank you."
Soon after the incident, Gabriela Women's Party, as well as celebrities and netizens took to social media to condemn Sotto's uncalled for comment.
"The senator clearly went out of bounds, insinuating malice at Taguiwalo who raised her two children as a solo parent, dubbing such as 'na-ano,'" the party's statement read. "Solo parents, including the DSWD secretary, should in no way be at the receiving end of such insults," read Gabriela's statement, which demanded a public apology from the senator.
One of the DSWD secretary's daughters also demanded an apology from the senator. "I'm asking Tito Sotto to apologize to mama...No woman should be treated like that," June Taguiwalo said in a message to GMA News Online.
Gabriela also commended Secretary Taguiwalo for standing her ground. "She is an inspiration to marginalized women and is more than deserving of a confirmation from the CA," it said
International award-winning Filipino singer Lea Salonga was one of the celebrities who instantly took to Twitter to react to the incident. "For much of my growing-up years, my mother was a single mother. I curse anyone and everyone that sees women like her as 'less than,'" she tweeted, adding that for a time, her husband was also raised by a single parent.
"For those that look down upon these beloved ladies, there's a special place in hell for the likes of you," Lea added.
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Many netizens followed suit, condemning the senator's crass remarks on solo moms, including tv host Bianca Gonzalez-Intal and comedienne Pokwang (real name Marietta Subong). Some individuals posted photos of them with their mom, paying tribute to the sacrifices solo mothers make for their kids.
When asked to explain his side, Senator Sotto said Taguiwalo did not appear to have been offended by his joke as she was ready to answer any and all kinds of questions during the hearing. He did, however, still apologized to people who didn't understand the joke. "It's a common expression as a joke, but then again, I said, if they feel offended then I'm sorry, I’d like to apologize for that," he told reporters after the CA hearing.
"I will be the last person in this country to disrespect a woman because my mother was the founder of the women’s rights movement," Sotto said, adding that he has two daughters who are in the same boat as Taguiwalo. "I have two daughters, who are separated, single, and have children; so I don’t think there should be any big fuss about it," he added.
What do you think, moms? Sound off your thoughts in the comments below.