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A woman’s way with words

Writer-poet and producer Kooky Tuason launches a unique book featuring a gallery of Filipino women, their struggles and beliefs
/ 05:30 AM March 27, 2015
ENTREPRENEUR, professor and mom Jana Estrevillo-Tupas

ENTREPRENEUR, professor and mom Jana Estrevillo-Tupas

What can’t a woman do? Ask Kooky Tuason and she will tell you instead what a woman can do.

Tuason, a writer-poet and producer, documents those answers in “Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves and For Eves”—a book that shows the different struggles and beliefs of Filipino women, launched March 8, International Women’s Day, at Clay Café in Makati.


The book features 100 portraits of women from all walks of life, who shared what words they live by, written on their bodies.

“‘Picket Lines’ is a rally of sorts. But instead of marching on the streets, this is our way of sharing a piece of ourselves with the world,” Tuason said.


SYNCHRONIZED swimmer Ida Calumpang

SYNCHRONIZED swimmer Ida Calumpang

“These are statements of women, what they believe in. We all know that, despite modernity, not all women are empowered. Through these photos and words in the book, I wanted people to be willing to expose themselves, that they shouldn’t be afraid,” she added.

Tuason, 39, had played many roles but would always go back to her two causes: words and helping other women. Most of the time, these come together, as Tuason has been helping the Women’s Crisis Center since 2005 through donations and workshops as avenue for expression and healing. This time, the two causes come together in book form.


Tuason worked with Marty Tengco; the conceptualization, enlistment and photo shoots were completed in only three months, but post-production took three years, mainly because of funding difficulties.

“We chose different women with stories to tell. I wanted people to identify with them,” said Tuason.

The book features a painter, an actress, a former Miss Universe, a musician, a dancer, a breast cancer survivor, a racer, an athlete, a fashion designer, an LGBT advocate, an ambassador, a philanthropist, a celebrity, a chef, a yogini, a CEO, an NGO worker, and many others.

At the launch, most of the women featured in the book came to celebrate, some of them meeting their fellow models for the first time.


“Picket Lines” is part of Tuason’s continuing passion to create avenues for dialogue on women’s issues.

“Words can unify people, which is our cause. We are here to inspire,” she said.

Kooky Tuason

KOOKY Tuason

She herself has been healed through and empowered by words—having released two spokenword albums, 2005’s “Romancing Venus 1” and 2006’s “Romancing Venue 2,” and hosted a spoken-word radio show, “Bigkas Pilipinas,” on Jam 88.3 FM in 2007. It was revived via podcast in 2011 on

“Bigkas Pilipinas” was nominated at the 2007 Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Golden Dove Awards for Best Culture and Arts Program.

Tuason has also launched a webcast series. With director August Lyle Espino, she came up with “Thinking Man’s Classroom,” a show described as an alternative classroom experience online. It is composed of four segments.

One is “Principals on Principle,” and deals with philosophy in modern times, hosted by Alma Anonas-Carpio, Angel Jones, Vince Dioquino, Kim Tengco, Niccolo Cosme and Nii Foronda. Tuason said the segment deals with topics hardly discussed in mainstream media such as suicide, technology’s effects on society, procreation and even masturbation—“the things people don’t usually talk about,” she said.

Another segment is “Random Fandom,” a forum for geeks hosted by Jon Sideno, in which the first few episodes have been dedicated to the likes of Marvel vs DC, and Dr. Who fans.

School of rock

In “The Museum of Randomly Perfected Broken Bodies,” theater actor and writer Manu Respall hosts gothic and dark fantasy stories similar to the styles of Neil Gaiman, Anne Bishop and Joe Abercrombie.

The fourth segment, “ForWord and By Word,” Tuason’s own show, is spoken- word poetry.

“In a way, the Thinking Man’s Classroom is like a school of rock. It won’t restrict viewers on what to think or talk about. We allow people to think for themselves. We’ll give them options, so they pick up what works for them,” she explained.

The show is about to conclude its first season this month and will open its second season in May. It airs every Tuesday, 4-6 p.m., on


“All the signs point to you and in you I find myself lost.” —Gigi Lapid, visual artist

“Time is too short to hold back feelings.”—Babzi Torres, entrepreneur and musician

“If you love me, then I have everything I need.” —Anita Linda, actress

“I am your goddess and she’s your wife.” —Hanah Faraon, writer

“A new life is always waiting.” —Jodi Sta. Maria, actress

“There’s no need to follow a path. Veer off and leave a trail for others to follow.” —Gloria Diaz, Miss Universe 1969

“The food that feeds the soul is what I crave for everyday.” —Natalia Moran, chef

“You define your own limitations.”—Gaby dela Merced, professional racer and gallery owner

“I have seen, I have been to places far and deep in my mind, only to find comfort in your strangeness.” —Cynthia Alexander, musician

“Move more to live more.” —Lydia Buendia, 82-year-old fitness instructor for the elderly and PWDs

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TAGS: kooky tuason, picket lines, spoken word, thinking man's classroom
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