Sunday, March 22, 2009

FilAm Women Remember Rebelyn

Immediate Release

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?

Rebelde ka,


Anong klase,

Kung ganun?

Ikaw ba ang


Ibinuhos ang dugo

At buhay

Para patalsikin

Ang mga Kastila,

Ang mga Amerikano,

Ang mga Hapon,

Si Marcos, at

Si Erap?

Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng

Napagod lang

Sa kalokohang ipinamumukha

Sa sambayanan?

Iyung tipo na

Hindi tatahimik,

Na hihiyaw,

Sa pagnanakaw ng mga

Panginoong maylupa,

Ng mga korporasyong

Nagmula sa ibayong dagat?

Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng

Nagsabi na,

“May ibang paraan

Para mabuhay.

May ibang klaseng buhay.

Hindi lamang ang paghihirap

At pagdurusa

Ng tumataas na tuition,

Tumataas na bilihin,

Tumataas na pamasahe,

Ngunit walang taas

Ng sahod. .

Pag-iibang bansa,

Kawalan ng trabaho,

At kawalan ng sariling lupa” ?

Kung gayon,

Kung gayon.

Dapat silang matakot. .

Ang mga hindi tatahimik,

Ang mga ordinaryong tao

Na siyang itinataas

Ang kanilang kamao

Sa galit,

Ang nagpapakita sa lahat

Ng katotohonan:

Na tayo’y nasa gitna

Ng isang kotradiksyon,

Sa araw-araw

Na inaapakan

Ang simpleng dignidad

Ng naghahanapbuhay,

Ng mga magsasaka,

Ng mga manggagawa.

Ng kabataan,

Ng kababaihan.

Sila ang pinaka-makapangyarihang

Rebelde, Rebelyn.

Ang mga ordinaryong tao

Na ito,

Ang siyang tinatawag mong

Bayan. .

Ikaw ang pinaka-makapangyarihang

Rebelde, Rebelyn.

Ang siyang walang ginawa

Kundi ang panindigan

Ang kanyang pagkatao,

Nagsisilbing ilaw

Sa iyong ama.




Maybe, they made a mistake.

Thinking that

Your name marked you

As one of those feared

In our society that’s been steeped

In dirt

(Something even

The trapos could not freshen up),

They should kill you.



Did they go blind?

Assumed you were a threat

To their lives---

A woman,

A teacher,

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,


What kind

Would you say?

Are you

The rebel

Who gave up

Her life

To drive out

The Spaniards,

The Americans,

The Japanese,

Marcos, and


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

Who said,

“There is another way

To live.

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

Who raise

Their fists

In anger,



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

Rebels, Rebelyn.

These ordinary


Whom you call

The people.

You are the strongest

Rebel, Rebelyn,

The one whose only crime

Was to affirm

Her humanity,

By living as a light

To your father.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


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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

”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

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!