Abraham Manila Hostel Takes Pride in Pioneering Advocacy Events in Poblacion
Abraham Manila is not your ordinary hostel amid the concrete jungle of Poblacion, Makati. Aside from offering affordable and aesthetically-pleasing accommodation, they also opened their doors to artists and women’s rights advocates in celebration of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
Abraham Manila’s “Better Than Yesterday”
On May 19, 2023, the seventh floor of Abraham Manila was transformed into an art gallery for their “Better Than Yesterday” art exhibition. The event was welcoming and cozy, creating a safe space for artists and visitors to talk about their experiences.
Four Filipina artists were selected to launch their works to raise awareness about sexual assault. The hostel provides a free avenue to support local artists.
True to their brand “come as you are” Abraham Manila empowers sexual assault survivors and local artists in amplifying their voice in telling their stories.
They aim to provide their guests with a comprehensive experience and understand relevant social issues in the Philippines such as sexual assault.
“It really speaks about certain social issues that we want to talk about and we aim to really touch hearts and build a strong community,” Erica Chloe Mañalac of Abraham Manila told the Village Pipol.
Abraham Manila takes pride in being the first hostel in Poblacion to hosts art exhibitions and promote artists by connecting them with people.
“I believe that our advocacy really sets us apart. In Abraham, we want a full all around experience for our guests,” she added.
Sagip Babae Foundation
Sagip Babae Foundation Co-Founder Francesca Fugen bravely shared that the trauma she had experienced led her to create a safe haven for women. She and her friend Melissa Profeta decided to fight for these women in need and help them recover from their painful experiences.
“It feels as if I’m shedding something because whatever we fight for, I’ve experienced. Kasi ‘yung mga pinaglalaban namin na-experience ko,” she said.
The foundation is currently helping 37 women heal in a three-month program that they can choose what to do. Sagip Babae Foundation aims to empower these women that there’s life after abuse.
“There’s life after it. Life doesn’t have to end just because of it,” Fugen added.
The gallery walk
The exhibition was followed by a gallery walk. Featured local artists Marj Laurena, Jonnafe Adraque, Andreian Espanto, and Eleanor Oberio connected with the audience by telling the story behind their paintings.
The four painters expressed their excitement after doing their first gallery walk. Although they had done several art exhibitions, they said it was their first time to speak about their creative process and to communicate with people through their paintings.
The Dark Valley Series
Marj Laurena retold her healing journey through “The Dark Valley” series. She featured four muted black-and-white artworks depicting her as she arose above her hiding place. Laurena said she drew strength in sharing her past to make other survivors feel like they’re not alone.
“It’s not the end of our story, we can emerge from it. Our identities are not defined by what happened to us, it’s defined by who God says we are,” she said during the gallery walk.
Laurena proudly shares that her healing journey started when she developed a deep relationship with God. Inspired by her late mom who was also an artist, Laurena picked up her brush and poured her emotions in each canvas.
“From that darkness, the Lord is calling me to emerge up. We can rise above what happened to us,” Laurena added.
For those who choose silence
Jonnafe Adraque’s trilogy painting tackles the strength of women to heal and their ability in finding happiness once again. Aside from using her art as therapy, Adraque also utilizes her skills to encourage women to tell their truth to the world.
“Isipin natin na kapag hinilom natin ang sarili natin bukas okay na tayo. Hindi naman mabilis pero darating ‘yung time talaga na magiging matapang at malakas,” she said.
She painted the different faces of women with flowers blocking their lips to illustrate the survivors who stayed silent about their experience. As an older sister to seven girls and now a mother, she draws inspiration in her paintings in wanting to keep her loved ones safe.
Did I Say Yes?
Andreian Espanto showcased the importance of consent in her piece showing a pair of jeans with an open zipper revealing a garden of pink roses. She dedicates this piece to all victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence.
“This is for all the victims regardless of their gender and age who don’t have the courage to speak up,” she shared.
She urges the public to practice a healthy understanding of boundaries in all aspects. Respecting one’s decision about their own body without question weighs the most for Espanto.
“I’ll use this chance to spread the importance of consent and how to respect each other’s boundaries,” Espanto reiterated.
Beyond the blindfold exists a crown of courage
Eleanor Oberio highlighted the courage and resilience of women to move forward after their unpleasant experiences. She represented the abuse by painting a white blindfold over the women’s eyes.
“It signifies her determination to let go of the past and embrace a future that is filled with hope,” Oberio shared.
After working for an outreach program, the stories of abused children had left an impact on Oberio. She opted for bright colors to signify hope and new beginnings for the survivors of sexual assault. She believes that they are capable of escaping the past and welcoming a colorful life ahead of them.
“I believe that every survivor’s journey is unique. I think it’s very important to find support and focus on self compassion,” she added.
Abraham Manila exceeds their tasks in providing comfort to its guests. They made their hostel a creative comfort zone where you can be who you are without judgment.
Jurelyn's passion has taken her from writing in her diary to pursuing journalism as her bachelor's degree. She finds joy in listening and telling people's stories. Jurelyn believes that there's something extraordinary in mundane things. She juggles her studies and work as an assistant social media producer. When writer's block hits, she seeks serenity and inspiration in watching K-dramas.