Sr. Aquila Sy Recounts Serving The Mistreated, Fleeing Philippines After Threats

Joyce Meyer

In many ways, time has stood still in the Philippines when it comes to people who live in poverty.

Sisters continue to stand with the people in their pursuit of justice. Social justice activism among sisters has a long history in the country, beginning in the 1970s during Ferdinand Marcos' regime. Today, these fearless women continue to be a threat to the government as they speak out against injustice and discrimination.

I remember being excited to meet a number of them belonging to a group called Sisters Association of Mindanao on my first visit to the Philippines in 2003. These sisters work in the southern part of the country with the communities of Muslims and indigenous people. I wanted to accompany them into the mountains to witness their work, but even at that time, we were turned back by military activity against the local farmers who were supposedly subversives.

Luckily, as I continued my travels, I was able to meet Sr. Aquila Sy, a sister well-known to the provincial and local government of Negros, and feared for her work for justice. Aquila was one of the first Filipino women to become a Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She courageously took on the cloak of Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Sisters in Ireland in the 1700s. Nano also engaged in dangerous activity for the sake of the discriminated.

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