The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) adds its voice to the outpouring of sorrow for the loss of our sister, Pet Cleto, and to the appreciation of her life and contributions.
Pet was a veteran of the women’s movement in the Philippines, and among the founding members of several organizations involved in the anti-Marcos dictatorship movement of the 1980’s, including 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 its board and staff.
When she came to Canada in the early 1990’s as a single Mom with her daughter, Cynthia, she worked hard to survive and used her skills as a journalist and writer to inform Canadians about Philippine news and issues. She remained connected to the people’s organizations and actively participated in Philippine Canada solidarity. She was a founder of Gabriela Ontario, a Philippine women’s organization which was one of the original members of the International Women’s Alliance.
We appreciated her organizing abilities and dedication last August when IWA co-hosted the Solidarity & FightBack conference to build resistance to US-led war and militarism. Pet was one of the main IWA members on the ground in Toronto and hardly slept during the preparations for the conference, welcoming participants with her good-nature and even keel.
Pet was a creative, unique person, and was always involved in projects to serve her community, through art and information. She edited two volumes of AKDAAN Literary Journal of writings by Filipino writers in exile. She was a broadcaster on Radyo Migrante, and a host on TV Migrante, actively interviewing and reporting until only days before she died. Pet was also an internationalist and had friends in the diaspora of many communities. She was a socialist, and kept true to her ideals over the decades.
Pet was an example of simple living and service to the people, especially the women.
We will all miss her smile, her warmth and her wit and will nourish our ongoing struggles with her memory.
Mabuhay ang Tita Pet!
Long Live our sister in the struggle!
Petronila Cleto – Presente!