MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – U2 held their historic first concert in the Philippines on Wednesday, December 11, and paid tribute to female gamechangers all over the world – Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa included.
After their performance of "Beautiful Day," Bono said, "Human rights drown out human wrongs, that’s a beautiful day. When sisters around the world go to school with their brothers, that’s a beautiful day. When journalists don't have to worry about what they write, that’s a beautiful day. When women of the world unite to rewrite history as herstory, that is a beautiful day."
He then said, "For Maria Ressa," before launching into the band's 1991 song, "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)." As they performed, the big screen backdrop displayed photos of revolutionary Filipinas throughout history, including Maria, Philippine Revolution heroine Melchora Aquino, zarzuela singer Maria Carpena, former president Cory Aquino, world-renowned singer and actress Lea Salonga, Senator Pia Cayetano, the #BabaeAko movement, the One Billion Rising movement, Grrl Gang Manila, youth activist and typhoon Haiyan survivor Marinel Ubaldo, activist Lidy Nacpil Alejandro, and environmental and indigenous rights advocate Joan Carling.
Women from around the world were also highlighted, including comedians Ellen Degeneres and Hannah Gadsby, primatologist Jane Goodall, protest punk band Pussy Riot, Syrian Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, AIDS awareness advocate Connie Mudenda, and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was named Time magazine's Person of the Year on the same day as the concert.
WATCH: U2 dedicates their song ‘Ultra Violet’ to female gamechangers all over the world, including Filipinas like Cory Aquino, Lea Salonga, Lidy Nacpil, and Maria Ressa. Video courtesy of Iñigo de Paula pic.twitter.com/aCAu64WeXP — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) December 11, 2019
"Women who light up history, your own Maria Ressa, is an incredible woman. But the extraordinary thing is, even Maria will say it's not about individuals. It's about collective action. It's about social movements. And so then all of you can grow up to be the President or Maria Ressa," he said after the song.
Throughout their tour, the band has played "Ultra Violet" to honor women, choosing representatives from each country they visit. In Seoul, South Korea where they played before heading to the Philippines, the band showed photos of historical Korean women, including South Korean first lady Kim Jung Sook, feminist painter Na Hye Sok, Korea's first female civilian pilot Park Kyung Won, and K-pop star and actress Sulli, who died in October.
U2's choice to include Maria in their tribute is not surprising – U2 frontman Bono had stressed the importance of a free press and safety for journalists.
“President Duterte is very popular, he doesn’t need me on his side, and as it happens I have a very deep conviction about journalism," he said at a press conference in Manila on Tuesday, December 10.
"The safety of journalists is very important, and I think a democracy requires a free press,” he said.
U2 is known for speaking up on social and political issues – and not just through their music. At the same press conference, frontman Bono sent out a "soft message" to President Rodrigo Duterte, saying "you can't compromise on human rights." – Rappler.com