MAKATI, Metro Manila—The independent Scout news organization, Amateur Media Association of Philippine Scouts (AMAPS), launched its anti-sexual violence initiative through the leadership of its top officers on the International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women, on Friday, November 25, in Barangay San Isidro, Makati City.
Eagle Scout Mika Grace Regala, 19, of Negros Occidental Council and Venturer Scout Samantha Lorraine Jauco, 16, of Tarlac Council led the launch of Scouts Against Sexual Harassment and Abuse (SASHA)—a helpdesk and advocacy group for Scouts to fight gender-based violence and abuse against children who are the main stakeholders of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).
AMAPS President Eagle Scout Win Sharm Cinco and TOBS 2021, AMAPS Vice President for Sustainability Eagle Scout Bianca Mae Elpedes attended the launch and shared their sentiments on the advocacy. “Let’s stand up and fight for a better world—and a Scouting movement where Scouts and women are safer from harm,” Elpedes remarked as she opens the event.
Elpedes presented the official SASHA neckerchief to Jauco as she took the stage, followed by a call to heed women’s call to stop abuse, harassment, and violence by seeking collective action against perpetrators.
“We cannot deny that gender-based discrimination, oppression, and violence still persist today but we are Scouts, we are messengers of peace, advocates of change—and peace and change start now and it starts with us,” Jauco calls for allyship in ending gender-based violence and opens SASHA as a platform to join the fight for women, children, and the LGBTQIA+.
Regala, known for standing against the discrimination against female Scouts, followed and also donned the official SASHA neckerchief as she insisted on the power of individual voices, “Our voices should be used to bring us together, not to tear us apart. The use of one’s voice is among the most powerful weapons an individual can have. Do not underestimate the power of a single voice. For it is within this single voice that can inspire and start change.”
“Find your voice. Own your voice. Use your voice. Because our voice matters,” Regala expressed as she promoted SASHA to be the one to hear the voices of the oppressed.
The launch was concluded with a message from Cinco, accounting for her own experiences with sexual abuse and the importance of SASHA as an initiative within the Scouting Movement. Attendees of the in-person launch each signed the call to action and pledge board.
Regala is the incumbent Secretary of AMAPS, while Jauco serves as the current Editor-in-Chief of its official publication, The Philippine Scout Tribune.
AMAPS is known for being led by women and girls since its conception. Press freedom and gender equality are among its primary advocacies.