Sunday, May 24, 2009
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2009
Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207, email@example.com
Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599, firstname.lastname@example.org
SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW
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."
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
For Immediate Release
May 19, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com, 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
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
April 21, 2009
Contact: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae-GABRIELA USA, 415-333-6267, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 http://sites.google.com/site/
Thursday, April 23, 2009
GABRIELA USA Denounces US-Philippine Collusion in the Acquittal of a High-Profile Military Rape Case
Read news article here: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090423-201022/US-Marine-in-Subic-rape-case-acquitted
For Immediate Release
April 23, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com, 415-244-9734
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.
JUNK THE VFA!
JUSTICE FOR NICOLE!
PUNISH DANIEL SMITH FOR HIS CRIME!
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.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
March 21, 2009
FilAm Women Remember Rebelyn
On Rebelyn Pitao's 21st birthday, GABRIELA-USA remembers the life of the slain daughter of a New People's Army commander, Leoncio Pita known popularly as Commander Parago. The abduction and murder of Rebelyn by armed men is characteristic of past executions linked to the Philippine government and the military.
With so much of Philippine politics swirling around the maltreatment and downright abuse of Filipino women and their rights (namely the controversial Nicole case and the Visiting Forces Agreement), FilAm women are moved to look to Rebelyn's life as a teacher, daughter, woman and friend to claim her life as evidence of a guilty and corrupt administration only looking to silence its people.
"Rebelyn, among so many other Filipino women, was unnecessarily taken by a fear mongering government in the name of insecurity," Melanie Dulfo the poet who wrote the below poems in Tagalog and English on behalf of GABRIELA-USA, "In the endlessly rotten administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it's the ordinary people that get hurt. But we will not forget their lives and remember them in our art and work even across the oceans."
*trapo= a dirty rag; in colloquial use, a traditional politician,
Baka nagkamali sila.
Inisip na, komo,
Sintinig ang pangalan mo
Ng kinatatakutang uri
Sa lipunan nating lubog
Sa dumi at basura
(Ni ‘di malinis ng mga
Sandaan trapong nagkalat)
Eh, dapat ka nang paslangin.
Nabulag kaya sila?
Inakalang banta ka
Sa buhay nila,
Ikaw na babae,
Ikaw na guro,
Ikaw na biente anyos pa lamang?
Kaya ka ba nila pinaslang, Rebelyn?
Kaya ka ba nila pinahirap
Kasi akalang armas ang lapis mo?
Ikaw ba ang
Ibinuhos ang dugo
Ang mga Kastila,
Ang mga Amerikano,
Ang mga Hapon,
Si Marcos, at
Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng
Sa kalokohang ipinamumukha
Iyung tipo na
Sa pagnanakaw ng mga
Ng mga korporasyong
Nagmula sa ibayong dagat?
Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng
“May ibang paraan
May ibang klaseng buhay.
Hindi lamang ang paghihirap
Ng tumataas na tuition,
Tumataas na bilihin,
Tumataas na pamasahe,
Ngunit walang taas
Kawalan ng trabaho,
At kawalan ng sariling lupa” ?
Dapat silang matakot.
Ang mga hindi tatahimik,
Ang mga ordinaryong tao
Na siyang itinataas
Ang kanilang kamao
Ang nagpapakita sa lahat
Na tayo’y nasa gitna
Ng isang kotradiksyon,
Ang simpleng dignidad
Ng mga magsasaka,
Ng mga manggagawa.
Sila ang pinaka-makapangyarihang
Ang mga ordinaryong tao
Ang siyang tinatawag mong
Ikaw ang pinaka-makapangyarihang
Ang siyang walang ginawa
Kundi ang panindigan
Ang kanyang pagkatao,
Sa iyong ama.
Maybe, they made a mistake.
Your name marked you
As one of those feared
In our society that’s been steeped
The trapos could not freshen up),
They should kill you.
Did they go blind?
Assumed you were a threat
To their lives---
Someone who was 20 years old?
Is that why they killed you?
Is that why they tortured you?
Because they thought your pen was a sword?
You’re a rebel,
Would you say?
Who gave up
To drive out
Are you the rebel
Who was just tired
From the lies
Offered to the people?
The type who
Would never be silenced,
Who would scream,
At the depredations
Of the landed elite,
Of the multi-national
Are you the rebel
“There is another way
There is a different kind of life
From the one we lead now,
With no choice
But to accept the tuition hike,
The rice crisis,
The energy crisis,
Without a rise
In wages for ten years.
No choice but to migrate.
Because there are no jobs,
And there is no land”?
They should quake and tremble.
For, those who will not stay silent,
Those ordinary people
We are stuck
In a contradiction
As every day,
Simple human dignity
Is crushed under a heel.
The dignity of those who just want to live,
They are the strongest
Whom you call
You are the strongest
The one whose only crime
Was to affirm
By living as a light
To your father.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
GABRIELA-USA Celebrates International Working Women’s Day with Month Long Activities Culminating in the Formation of the First Overseas Chapter of GABRIELA- USA
Los Angeles, CA--To honor International Working Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Babae, FIRE, and PINAY sa Seattle will undertake a slew of activities during this March 2009. These celebrations will culminate in the National Founding Assembly of GABRIELA-USA, where Filipinas from across the nation will gather on March 29, 2009 at the University of California, Los Angeles Downtown Labor Center, to establish the first overseas chapter of the Philippine-based progressive women’s alliance, GABRIELA. Presenting the keynote address will be GABRIELA’s renowned Secretary General, Emmi de Jesus.
This commemoration of 25 years of GABRIELA history comes at a very challenging time for women all over the world. In the Philippines, the current global economic crisis affects Filipino families gravely as the daily struggle for wage, healthcare and basic social services become increasingly more difficult. The Philippine import-dependent and export-oriented economy is heavily reliant on remittances from overseas workers. Filipina women, who represent over 70% of the overseas workers, are dramatically affected due to dwindling dollars impacting the welfare of families still living in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Department of Labor, over 3,770 workers were sent abroad daily for work in 2008 and in the same year, ten million overseas Filipino workers (OFW's) remitted over $16.4 Billion USD.
The Philippine government heralds these economic gains as national successes, yet it neither recognizes the vulnerabilities and exploitation of overseas workers, nor protects individuals when they face abuse. In the past year, over 20 overseas workers were sent home in body bags labeled “mysterious deaths,” but are suspected cases of employer abuse. Despite this, the Philippine government, under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has responded by increasing the number of laborers sent abroad, rather than strengthening the local economy which might help retain talent and skills within the nation.
Today’s economic crisis; coupled with the rise of U.S. unemployment, underemployment, and international xenophobia; has a severe impact on Filipino families in the United States and abroad, but especially on Filipina women who are a majority of that exported labor force. Since 1984, GABRIELA has operated as the broad-based women’s alliance which addresses the concerns of women in the Philippines, prompted by the Martial Law era. Today, GABRIELA’s work has expanded internationally due to the increasing number of women who leave the Philippines in order to find work abroad through the country’s Labor Export Program.
To ensure the needs of Filipinas are addressed in the United States, the country with the largest overseas Filipino population, a working alliance between Pinay sa Seattle, Babae (San Francisco) and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (New York) was formed. These Filipino women in the United States have worked during the past four years to build the foundation for GABRIELA-USA, which maintains the issues of economic and social violence Filipinas experience globally at the forefront of their campaigns. By educating, organizing, and mobilizing Filipina women in the U.S., these women’s organizations critically address the economic crisis, militarization and violence that affect their communities.
In light of the ongoing economic, political and physical violations that Filipino women face at the hands of the Philippine and US governments, there continues to be a need for Filipinas to rise up, resist, and demand that their basic human needs and human rights be honored. GABRIELA-USA invites the public to celebrate International Working Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by attending the following events.
SEATTLE: ”Women’s Struggles and Successes: Eyes on the Global Economic Crisis from Seattle, Palestine to the Philippines” SUNDAY March 8, Event will include performances and women’s updates. at 1pm Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine at 2000 S Jackson St., Seattle, WA. Co-sponsored by Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, Communities Against Rape and Abuse, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Anakbayan Seattle
NEW YORK: ”International Working Women's Day, Uphold the legacy of women's resistance!” SUNDAY March 8, Rally at 1 pm at Union Square 14th & Broadway in Manhattan, NYC. In collaboration with the citywide women’s coalition, Women's Fight Back Network.
SAN FRANCISCO: “Conference on Gender and Resistance in the Age of Empire: From Gaza to Oakland” THURSDAY March 12 at 11am at SFSU - 1600 Holloway Ave. San Francisco, CA. Co-sponsored by San Francisco State University's Women's Center and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED)
LOS ANGELES: "Get Up, Stand Up! For Human Rights in the Philippines" SUNDAY March 8, Silent auction fundraiser/exhibit at 4pm at Tribal Café, 1651 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Co sponsored by BAYAN USA, Southern California.
“Sulong GABRIELA: Celebrating the Advances of the Filipino Women's Struggle! Twenty Five Years and Onward!” SATURDAY, March 28th – Cultural Night 7-11pm SUNDAY, March 29th – Founding Assembly. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
GABRIELA-USA, consists of Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York. We continue to demand the removal of all U.S. troops from the Philippines and the abrogation of the VFA! Halt all military aid to the Philippines!