(October 18,1945 – January 11, 2018)
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!
Makibaka International Representative
12 January 2018