Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pinay Fil-Am Activist Kidnapped!

The first Fil-Am activist abducted by suspected GMA personnel is a founding member of BAYAN-USA. Please help us spread the word about Melissa Roxas and her two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.



May 24, 2009

Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207,

Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599,


BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

"We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions to be immediately surfaced unharmed," said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. "We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and victimized thousands of innocent people."

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. "We appeal to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community, and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005, BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under Arroyo."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GABRIELA-USA condemns Alec Baldwin's Mail-Order Bride Comment and Demands a Public Apology

For Immediate Release

May 19, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA,, 415-244-9734

Hyper-sexualization of Filipina Women Rooted in the History of U.S. Bases in the Philippines and Current Neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines as codified in the Visiting Forces Agreement

Ten days before the 10-year anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the recent news of another young Filipina “Vanessa” alleging rape by a US Marine in the Philippines, Alec Baldwin's comment about perhaps getting a "Filipina mail order bride" to "have more kids" is a cutting reminder of how Filipina women are normalized as sexual objects in U.S. society.

These images and stereotypes, pervasive among former U.S. military personnel who have been stationed in the Philippines, have seeped into American mainstream media and discourse. They speak to legacies of U.S. colonial occupation of the Philippines, the history of U.S. bases and the Arroyo administration colluding with U.S. military abuse of Filipino women.

With the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) dictating US-Philippine relations, the reversal of the rape conviction of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Smith, and now the Vanessa rape case, this seemingly harmless “joke” on The Late Show with David Letterman points to the ongoing perception of Filipino women as objects for sexual disposal. Indeed, these are symptoms of the larger political and economic sketch. The precedent for Filipinas and the Philippine nation to be dehumanized, sexualized and given second-rate status can be found in US imperialist policies and the Philippine government's acceptance of this treatment.

Baldwin's comments about acquiring a wife in his desired flavor, "Filipino" or "Russian" demonstrates how deeply seeded the problem of sex trafficking is in the US. This comment is not only a joke about Filipino women, but an insult to all women, especially those who are economic refugees of colonized and under-developed countries. We must remember Susanna Blackwell, a Filipina mail-order bride who was killed along with her two Filipina friends in a Seattle court house where she was seeking divorce from her abusive husband in 1995. To this day, GABRIELA USA receives calls from mail order and pen-pal brides under distress, and seeking to escape from mental, physical, and emotional abuse by their American husbands.

After insults about Filipino doctors on Desperate Housewives and domestic helpers on European TV and, and now this recent racist and sexist comment, GABRIELA USA calls on all Filipinos and friends to publicly denounce these derogatory remarks and work towards addressing their root cause—the U.S. military occupation of the Philippines, U.S.impunity against sex crimes and human rights abuses, and the underlying neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.

We also re-commit to educating our community and the larger public about the true contributions of Filipina women in U.S. society and the plight of many mail–order-brides who often become victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Too often Filipina women who come to the U.S. through marriage suffer from uneven power relationships and become dependent on their American husbands, sadly mirroring the subjugation of the the Philippines under the U.S.

GABRIELA USA calls for a public apology from Alec Baldwin. Filipina women from across the country renew their demands for the end of US Troops in the Philippines, an end to the Visiting Forces Agreement and justice for all victims of military rape.

GABRIELA USA are comprised of members organizations: Babae in San Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York City, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, and Sisters of Gabriela, Awaken! (SiGAw) in Los Angeles.


Friday, April 24, 2009

San Francisco Filipino Women Rise Up Through Art

For Immediate Release

April 21, 2009

Contact: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae-GABRIELA USA, 415-333-6267,

San Francisco Filipino Women Rise Up Through Art

San Francisco, CA—As the weekend of International Worker’s Day, or Mayo Uno, approaches, the women of Babae-GABRIELA USA, League of Filipino Students, and Diwata Young Women’s Group prepare to not only celebrate the contributions of the working class worldwide, but to also celebrate the experiences and contributions of one of San Francisco’s distinct immigrant working populations, Filipino women. On Sunday, May 3, 2009, Babae, LFS, and Diwata hosts the 7th Annual Filipina Women’s Showcase, Diwang Pinay.

Diwang Pinay (Spirit of the Filipina) is an annual performance and silent art auction by Filipina/Filipina-American performers, writers, and artists. “With a 40,000 Filipino population in San Francisco, and more than half of whom are women, it is only appropriate to give light and praise to the different ways Pinays are living, resisting, and surviving today in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond,” states Marisa Mariano, chairperson of Babae.

This year’s celebration is themed “Still We Rise,” highlighting the Filipina’s fighting spirit to rise above adversity. With a global economic crisis impacting our communities, especially immigrant working families, and a system that continues to see women as second class citizens, Filipinas wage a battle every day to provide for their families and live with dignity. Transcending beyond their everyday struggles, Filipino women build resistance with a fervor that can be traced back to the legacy of historic women like Gabriela Silang and Tandang Sora. The evening is also in dedication to the 25th Anniversary of GABRIELA Philippines, a grassroots alliance of over 200 women’s organizations in the Philippines that has been at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights since its conception.

Diwang Pinay hosts a range of performances from talented pinays from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area such as singing, dancing, guerilla theatre, poetry and film. On display will also be an art gallery showcasing artworks of different mediums by artists such as Jessica Antonio, Heather Boyer, Catherine Lagman, Bean Rabino, Dezi Suarez, Elaine Villasper, and Jenifer Wofford.

Join us on May 3, 2009 from 4:30-7:00 pm at the Bayanihan Community Center located in the South of Market District at 1010 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103. The suggested donation will be a sliding scale of $7-10, $5 for students age 10-17 with a valid ID, and free for children under 10 years of age. For more information, visit Diwang Pinay’s official website at


Thursday, April 23, 2009

GABRIELA USA Denounces US-Philippine Collusion in the Acquittal of a High-Profile Military Rape Case

For Immediate Release
April 23, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA,, 415-244-9734

GABRIELA USA Denounces US-Philippine Collusion in the Acquittal of a High-Profile Military Rape Case
Filipina-Americans in the United States express our disgust and anger at the news that the Court of Appeals in the Philippines has acquitted Lance Corporal Smith in the 2005 rape case of "Nicole." Lcpl. Smith was convicted of raping "Nicole" on December 4, 2006, and legalities around custody and sentencing has been ongoing for the past three years. Due to the highly contentious Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Smith has been in the custody of the U.S. Embassy instead of a Philippine prison. However, on March 12 of this year, a questionable recantation by "Nicole" was released while in the same month, monetary compensation and the termination of her legal counsel casted doubt on who prepared the content of the affidavit.

In this long and dirty case, US and Philippines collusion through loopholes in the VFA have demonstrated that in the Philippines, the rule of law and justice are commanded by American interests and corrupt politicians. The Court of Appeals has failed Filipino women worldwide. Instead of holding Smith accountable of rape, the appellate court has repealed the justice that was already rightfully won by "Nicole" and her family. After years of struggling and fighting with huge and broad support from Filipino organizations like GABRIELA in the Philippines and worldwide, Smith's acquittal from his legitimate conviction in 2006 is a betrayal to both Nicole and her loved ones, but also to all of the Filipino women, children and men who have been victims of sexual assault and crimes by US military servicemen.

Women's accounts of rape and assault are often spun into heresy through the manipulation of justice under the auspices of governmental righteousness, as in the case of the US military occupation in the Philippines. Valerie Francisco, Vice Chair of GABRIELA USA stated, "We are witnessing 'Nicole's' story becoming increasingly co-opted by the blind loyalty of the Philippines to American idealism about 'helping' us with our perpetual, undefined 'war on terror.'" Francisco continued, "Nicole's legacy will not stop at a recantation and acquittal. The fight for justice for Nicole, among so many other victims of militarized gender violence, will not cease at another silenced victim of US aggression."

Today, when there are 10 women that are "delivered" nightly to US service men for Balikatan excercises, GABRIELA-USA calls for the end of the commodification of Filipino women. With U.S. military exercises held in Bicol this summer, the presence of US troops in very poor rural communities creates a demand that practically coerces local Filipinas into in the sex trade. This is due to the lack of economic options in highly militarized zones of the Philippines.

"This injustice will only fuel anti-VFA movement," commented Raquel Redondiez, chair of GABRIELA USA, "Under Gloria Arroyo, this seemingly easy deal between the US and her administration for a convicted rapist was an exchange for Philippine sovereignty, justice and democratic ideals. Although Nicole's family has been through enough and are tired of the trickery, Filipino women's organizations from the Philippines to the US will continue the fight for justice for Nicole and all victims of sexual crimes under US occupation!"

GABRIELA USA, comprised of Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGaW), Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York City, strongly denounces the acquittal of Lcpl. Daniel Smith and condemn the collaboration of the broken Philippine judicial system and US military interests for again revoking Nicole what was rightfully hers, justice and dignity. We challenge this decision and demand that the Philippine government and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo overturn this acquittal.


Palace, US hand seen in Smith acquittal

Original article can be found here:
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Tetch Torres
First Posted 19:08:00 04/23/2009

Filed Under: Subic rape case

MANILA, Philippines – A left-wing lawmaker and a militant leader said the Court of Appeals decision to acquit American marine Daniel Smith of rape was due to the maneuverings of Malacañang and the United States government.

But while they said the acquittal was expected, Gabriela party list Representative Liza Maza and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes were nonetheless outraged by the development.

Gabriela partylist Representative Liza Maza said: “The stage has been set up for his [Smith’s] acquittal."

"I deplore the grand scheme concocted by the US and Malacañang meant to save Smith and to justify VFA," she said in a text message.

Reyes said the recantation of Smith’s accuser, Nicole, and the government’s inaction to comply with a Supreme Court ruling for it to regain custody of the US soldier led up to the appellate court’s decision.

“This denial of justice is but the logical conclusion of the maneuvers of the US government and the Arroyo government. The Smith acquittal is exactly what Malacañang has been praying for and working for from the onset,” he said.

Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros called the decision to acquit Smith "shameless and thoroughly disgusting."

"It is a complete and treacherous abandonment of our sovereignty, all the more repulsive because it was handed down while the Supreme Court is still deliberating on a complaint filed by women's groups," she said.

"If we can't even uphold our own Constitution and laws and protect our citizens within our own territory, then how can we defend our country from other nations? The decision is an insult to our collective dignity," Hontiveros added.