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Tagpuan sa Bahay ni Io Co-Working Space is Isis and Io, past and present, combined

For all of Isis International’s 45 years as an organisation focusing on supporting  and strengthening feminist movements, the women’s resource center has always been its heart and soul.  At its peak, the library firmly established “itself both as a repository of materials on feminist movement building and a space for conversations among feminist activists. It was far more than a structure that indeed backed up the direction of Isis as an information-sharing platform among Southern women’s rights organisations and networks.”

It came therefore as no surprise that when the decades-old international women’s organization decided to switch directions in 2017, along with the name change came the idea to turn the library into a co-working space; a proper successor for such a storied and important component of the organization. 

Named “Tagpuan sa Bahay ni Io,” the new space aims to provide a comfortable and safe physical venue for varying needs. By using the Filipino word for meeting place, “tagpuan,” Io “hopes to harness the evocative and metaphoric possibilities of the term to bring people together to work and engage each other in its newly renovated Filipiniana building.”

On December 11, 2019, the Tagpuan sa Bahay ni Io Co-Working Space was officially launched with the first-ever Io Conversation Circle on “The Personal is Political But the Collective is Powerful.” Invited are some of the most vibrant and committed young feminists we have today in Manila to talk about what it means to live as a feminist. This includes Shebana Alqaseer (Bantay Bastos), Alice Sarmiento (Grrrl Gang Manila), and Dawn Macahilo (She Decides).  The conversation circle was facilitated by Loyola Schools Gender Hub director and Io Board Member Mira Ofroneo. Completing the circle were other feminists, young and the not-so-young, eager to share and connect across generations.

A short ritual to welcome the new space was headed by Girlie Villariba, former Executive Director (ED) of Isis International from 1994 to 1998. A fitting role for Girlie, as it was her who was the ED that opened the Isis house in 1997, six years after Isis International moved from its original home in Rome to Manila. 

Of course, it won’t be a proper launch if it does not come with a celebratory meal. Cocktails and a simple dinner prepared by the staff of Bahay ni Io followed the forum with more Io friends, former board members, and staff joining. The night ended with much cheer and hopeful proclamations for Tagpuan sa Bahay ni Io.

It was a day filled with flowers and chocolate kisses, of meaningful conversations among kindred spirits, promises of future exchanges, of good food with colleagues and friends. Truly a great way to welcome an old information sanctum made new. 

Photos by Malen Ibañez-Tarrobago and Earnest Mangulabnan-Zabala.