Sotto: On the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I have been looking at the personal information about you. You have two children – daughters ba or sons?
Taguiwalo: Yes, two daughters.
Sotto: Two daughters. But you’re single?
Taguiwalo: My life has never been a normal one. I never had the whole mother-father-children kind of thing except when I was growing up in Bacolod. From 1972 until 1986, I led a life underground or in prison.
Sotto: In the street language, if you have children and then you are single, ang tawag dun e ‘na-ano lang.’
Taguiwalo: Senator Sotto, I teach women’s studies. We respect all kinds of families, and that includes solo parents. Thank you.
Sotto’s quip “na-ano lang” obviously refers to the fact that it is common among single moms to have been essentially thrown away by their partners after a one night stand.
The Senator’s joke quickly earned the ire of many Filipinos especially since it insults single mothers. Sotto, who is better known for hosting “Eat Bulaga” than for authoring any significant legislation, merely verbalized the persisting social stigma against single mothers.
In the first place, single mothers, more often than not, did not choose to be in that difficult circumstance. Countless women all over the country and around the world are forced to raise their children alone either because their partner refused the responsibilities of fatherhood, left them for another woman (“sumakabilang-bahay“), or if their husbands died.
The thing is, it is really easy for men to run away from women they get pregnant because there is no legal consequence for those who don’t recognize their child or give financial support. This stands in contrast to women who cannot possibly conceal their pregnancy for nine months, an event that will inevitably bring personal shame especially if they are is unmarried. The challenges faced by single mothers is not a joking matter, and to make fun of it is simply abhorrent.
Sotto isn’t exactly an ally of women’s causes. It can be recalled that from 2011 to 2012, he did every possible maneuver to derail the passage of the Reproductive Health law – including giving plagiarism-riddled privilege speeches. He is a living proof that you can be an asshole and still get elected to the Senate four times.