Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Filipinos in San Francisco Celebrate International Women’s Day

March 11, 2008

Reference: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae - San Francisco,

Filipinos in San Francisco Celebrate International Women’s Day
By Remembering Victims of U.S. Military Occupation

San Francisco, CA – Union Square passersby received quite a surprise this past Saturday when a group of Filipino Americans gathered around the Dewey Monument, subsequently dropped to the floor. Scattered amongst the bodies on the floor were placards containing documented statistics of rape, abuse, even murder committed by U.S. military personnel against women from different countries.

This attention grabbing action was organized by Babae San Francisco, a local Filipino women’s organization, to commemorate International Women’s Day. “March 8 has long been a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women globally, but we live in a time where violence against women is heavily increasing, particularly in locations with U.S. military presence,” explains Marisa Mariano, Chair of Babae. “As we celebrate the beauty of sisterhood on this special day, it is also our responsibility to shed light on issues that continue to affect the well-being of women. Each person laying on the floor signifies hundreds of others who fall victim to violence perpetrated by the U.S. military.”

Some recent accounts of violence highlighted by the action were the two rapes that occurred only a week apart in Okinawa Japan. On February 2008, a 14-year old Okinawan girl came forward as a victim of rape by 38-year old U.S. Marine sergeant Tyrone Hadnott. A week later, a 21-year old Filipina woman came forward as also being raped by a U.S. serviceman. The rape occurred only two days after the woman arrived on the island as a contract worker from the Philippines.

“It is situations like these that affirm the need for a militant women’s movement,” adds Mariano. “A corrupt president like GMA only serves her own personal interests, so it is up to us to fight against atrocities committed against us. We must insist to be the change that we seek.”

Babae used the Dewey Monument “die-in” to also project the newly formed GABRIELA-USA chapter composed of Babae SF, Pinay sa Seattle, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in NY. The chapter is the first international chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, an alliance of over 250 women’s organizations in the Philippines. Members of Babae passed out buttons and informational postcards about GABRIELA-USA as crowds gathered around the bodies on the floor.

The simple act of resistance successfully carried out a strong and stern message on this International Women’s Day.

Friday, March 7, 2008


For Reference:
Joanne Alcantara
GABRIELA National Organizing Committee Coordinator
(641) 715-3900

March 8th – Overseas Filipinas Rally and March as GABRIELA-USA,
Extending the Philippine Women's Movement Internationally

On March 8, 2008, Filipino women in the United States will proclaim
the formalization of a GABRIELA-USA Chapter, the first international
overseas chapter of the Philippine-based women's organization
GABRIELA, through nationally-coordinated protest actions celebrating
women's resistance and calling for the ouster of Philippine President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

GABRIELA, the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity,
Equality, Leadership and Action, was first established in 1984 by 42
women's organizations in the Philippines uniting against the US-backed
Marcos dictatorship. In November of 2007, Pinay sa Seattle, babae in
San Francisco and FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New
York planted the seeds for a USA-based GABRIELA. Subsequently,
GABRIELA has committed to expanding our work in the US by providing
organizing around the conditions of Filipinas in the USA.

In the seven years that the US-backed Arroyo has been President in the
Philippines, she has worsened the economic conditions of the Filipino
people and especially women. Her stark human rights violations
record, subservience to US imperialism and militarization has
materialized in the murder of Filipino women and children in the hand
of US troops supposedly training the Philippine military in Balikatan
exercises. Arroyo has also stood silent on the increasing numbers of
Filipino women raped by US military troops in the Philippines, and
recently in Japan.

The corruption of President Arroyo has been exposed through the
NBN-ZTE scandal and the Filipino people are expressing their
intolerance. We are uniting across continents and oceans to call for a
new brand of people power. The intensifying political climate in the
Philippines calls for genuine social change, an ouster of a decrepit
president and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

GABRIELA-USA will rally to this call. As migrant women, we recognize
that the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers are women. The
worsening economic and political crisis of the Philippines pushes
Filipino women out only to be subjected to exploitation, human
trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, torture and even death.
We recognize our place is in the struggle to oust a puppet president
and we will mobilize around our responsibility to the Filipino people.

During these times of heightened political crisis in the Philippines
the women of Pinay sa Seattle, babae San Francisco and FiRE New York,
all members of GABRIELA-USA, will continue to carry out the vigilant
task of intensifying the people's resistance against a tyrannical and
immoral government. GABRIELA-USA stands behind all working women and
Filipino progressives to expose the truth and call for Arroyo's ouster
from presidency.

On this March 8, we call on all peace loving people, advocates for
human rights, and women's organizations to stand in solidarity with
GABRIELA and its newly formed USA-based chapter by joining us in the
following mobilizations:

New York:
A Salute to Women's Resistance
Union Square

Women Hold Up Half the Sky
Cultural Performances and Speakers
Jose Rizal Park

San Francisco
For Our Sisters, We Must RESIST
San Francisco Dewey Monument
Union Square Plaza at Stockton and Powell

Women unite!
Struggle against oppression and exploitation!
Fight the Arroyo regime's corruption and tyranny!
Oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Long Live International Working Women's Day!
Long Live International Solidarity!