Category Archives: Philippines

How to Raise Feminist Kids

A New York Times published a piece called, “How to Raise a Feminist SonHow to Raise a Feminist Son” written by Claire Cain Miller popped up on my Facebook feed a couple of days. And of course, since the arrival of my son (my partner and I chose to keep the sex of our baby secret until he revealed himself), I’ve been thinking more and more how I can raise a man that respects women (both trans and cis) and people of all sexualities. I have been thinking of how this world is riddled with toxic masculinity ala Trumpian buffoonery and all kinds masculinity that doesn’t honor women.

But I also think about how I want to raise my daughter with feminist ideals. How do I raise her to protect her body? To understand consent? Not to be ashamed when someone calls her “sassy” or “bossy” which is often a gendered comment that never gets tagged on to her male cousins (also, how do I not feel ashamed when someone calls her that and inherently assumes that I allow for that “attitude)?

Anyway, I’m gonna get to my point but I’m gonna do it by talking about a pink pony.

So, a friend of ours had his daughter’s birthday party at a Build-A-Bear workshop. I was hoping that my daughter, Aya, would pick a regular schmegular bear so she could dress it up as a bear doctor or a bear astronaut–two of the things she’s super into. Instead, my lil homegirl chooses a pink unicorn pony with long tresses of purple and teal hair and eyes too big for its head but made for cuteness and a baby pink pinker than its body unicorn horn.

I look at it and I’m like, what? There’s so. much. pink.

But she loved it. Like at first sight. She hugged it and named it Porcupine.

I took her back to the choosing aisle and showed her the regular bear and what we could do with it but she was like, “I want Porcupine.” For real? Yes, yes she only wanted Porcupine, the Pink Pony/Unicorn. A little part of my feminist heart was crushed and the crumbs of it got blown away by Porcupine’s hair whip.

So, it was.

Here’s the lesson I learned from it: I gotta learn how to let Aya and Cy make their own decisions. I think this idea of self-determination is pretty freakin’ key, y’all.

When whole countries don’t have the ability to determine their nation’s political, economic and social agenda, they are often corrupted into the biggest and loudest voices–ahem, US imperialism. For example, the cancellation of the fifth round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippine is reflective of current President Détente’s inability to determine a Philippine political agenda that fits into the type of country many Filipinos want it to be–a country based on just peace.

If I can learn a lesson from geopolitics, I think I can apply that to raising my children. After all, as a friend Johanna Almiron-Johnson once said, the work of raising these children is the work of nation-building.

What if raising feminist children is not just about teaching them to treat the sexes equally?

What if its about allowing them self-determination?

On Post-Colonial Rage and Not Being Mad at Big Brother aka US Imperialism

 

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First of all, let me be CRYSTAL CLEAR, President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” is unconscionable. Thousands of people and innocent bystanders have been slain in the name of “cleaning up” the Philippines. Without due process, the Philippine National Police have become the prosecutor, judge, jury and executor of Filipinos who may or may not be involved with drugs. Its deplorable and I hope mounting national mass movement building and international attention and criticism can pierce the presidential halls of the Philippines to cease extrajudicial killings.

Okay? Okay.

The headlines regarding the Philippines this morning is deeply connected to the aforementioned extrajudicial killings. But it seems to me, it is also about a resounding slap on the postcolonial wrist of Duterte. So what am I talking about? Duterte went on (yet another) controversial tirade a couple of days before maybe meeting with President Barack Obama. When prompted by a journalist about talking with Obama about the extradjudicial killings happening in the Philippines right now related to the war on drugs, Duterte got fired up and using his best Pinoy patriarchal voice (yes, I’m being sarcastic), said, “I am not beholden to Obama, my master is the Filipino people.”

Ohhhhhhhh. Burnnnnnn.

When I was watching the press conference, I was like, “Daaaaaamn. He really went there.”

Why?

Because a little known historical fact is that past Philippine presidents were not only chummy with US presidents—but actually, many (and by many I mean, ALL) have been puppets to US political will, economic intervention and military occupation. See below chummy, puppet examples below of recent chummy, puppet presidents getting chummy with past US imperialist presidents:

 

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Obama is in Laos right now at the ASEAN meeting (which btw is such a problematic group prioritizing neoliberal reforms that seek to cut the potential of SE Asian countries to develop with self-determination) and he basically heard about Duterte’s comments and canceled their pending meeting. Which in fairness (that’s a Filipino phrase for, “Duterte was asking for it”), Duterte was out of pocket swearing like a Pinoy patriarch whipping out his ego for the world to see—so ain’t nobody talkin to you with that potty mouth, even if you are head of the state. (Update: Duterte is regretful. Good job GPH media relations.)

But that’s not what I wanted to get at here in my morning pages. I think there is a certain shock and disbelief running through the American media (I listened to NPR this morning, read the NY Times, even took a peek at CNN) that a president, much less the Philippine president, would say such distancing comments about the US.

Underlying this shock is a sort of assumption that the Philippines, Filipinos and especially the head of state should remember the history of benevolent coloniality and current-day “help” US imperialism provides in the Philippines by way of military, aid, Justin Bieber tours, etc. What I read in today’s headlines was an aversion to a post-colonial state disavowing US intervention. How dare Filipinos be mad at the US? How dare Duterte say that his only master is the Filipino people? How dare he show anger at his American Big Brother whose only showed kindness, fairness and benevolence?

Yo, people are straight mad that anyone who has been shown US kindness (read: military aid, money, disaster aid, money) have feelings that are not of subservient gratitude—much less rage.

Don’t get it twisted, my people. I think Duterte should be held accountable for a police force and armed forces that has gone rogue. (Haters, see the opening paragraph before you come for me in the comments.) Not only the extrajudicial killings from the “war on drugs” but also the slain community leaders of the Lumad tribe in Mindanao. Duterte must stop killing his so called “masters”.

However, the shock wave that Duterte’s comments have made in the international media demonstrates that no matter how long its been since colonies have been signed into sovereignty on paper. They are still considered colonial projects, that should be grateful, passive, non-confrontational and dutiful. The Philippines as a former US colony should never be angry about US intervention, they should only have the utmost respect for a past-colonizer/neo-imperialist occupier.

Duterte’s comments regarding his accountability to the Filipino people is refreshing. Ain’t no president before him had the gall to put the Filipino people first. Now, the challenge is to see if he really is for the Filipino people.

Enough with them fightin words, Duterte has to ensure that outside of press conferences and big international meetings—he revokes the fetters of US imperial powers on the Philippines. He must terminate unequal agreements between the US and the Philippines such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperating Agreement (EDCA).

4 Reasons Why Filipinas/os Should Support Black Lives Matter

I have been struggling the past few days. Here, I’ve put my words down again to implore my community to join in solidarity and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

4. Anti-Black racism has plagued our community.

As a young darker-skinned Filipina, I was often taunted as “Black Beauty” and told never to go under the sun so that I wouldn’t get darker. What that meant was dark = not good, black = bad. My grandfather always warned me about watching the show, Martin, and having Black friends because they were no good. Instead of seeing the commonalities between our communities, our elders and families have bought into the American racial order before they even got to the US. They swallowed the pill that white was good and Black was bad. Colorism is just a small part of the consequences of this type of internalized racism.

Much more toxic is our rejection of mixed race Filipinos/as in our community. Much more dangerous is that Filipinos/as think that our histories are completely separate and that the consequences of anti-Black racism can not touch Filipinos/as. But it does. Everyday it does. White supremacy recasts Black and Brown bodies (I consider Filipinos/as as Brown) as lesser than white, in very different and relative ways. But my point is that we will never be assimilated into whiteness. And as long as we continue to front like we can be white by rejecting Blackness, we are part of the problem.

3. Black and Filipino solidarity is historical.

David Fagen deserted the American imperialist forces to join the Filipino independence forces at the turn of the 20th century. One journalist stated, “the negro soldiers were in closer sympathy with the aims of the native population than they were with those of their white leaders and the policy of the United States.” Filipinos were openly called the n-word and caricatured as “little brown brothers”. Well, it was Black people who stood up for us against US empire. It was Black soldiers that took up our mantle, put it on their backs and fought for our freedom. Our liberation was bound together then, and it is even more so now.

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2. US empire in the Philippines relied on anti-Black racism at home.

The encroachment of US empire in the Philippines was imbued with anti-Black racism. Imperialist cartoons show Filipinos as dark skinned savages in need of saving. This was set in the backdrop of increasing racial repression against Black people in the US via Jim Crow laws and segregation, not to mention continuing settler colonialism and cultural genocide of indigenous people in the US. The American colonial project got its fire from the racialized oppression of Black people. It gave them moral logic and the state-sanctioned practices to go abroad and subjugate Filipinos. Caricatured and racialized as Black people in SE Asia, Filipinos were made to swallow this racial ideology even before we were being exported for profit.

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It’s about damn time that we reject these two interlinked racial ideologies. And its about time that we step up to acknowledge that both are not the same in egregiousness but they work together to divide and subjugate

1. It is the right thing to do.

In the past 3 days, two men (and perhaps more (men, women, trans people) who are under the media radar), Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were murdered by police officers. Sadly, they were not the first nor the last Black people whose lives will be taken by police. These men were complying. These men were simply living their lives. They were doing nothing that deserved death. Their humanity was sacrificed in the name of institutionalized racism, the internalization of Black criminality and acceptance of Black death by police officers.

Filipinos/as cannot stand by while Black people and the Black community are clamoring for a stop to these killings; this crisis in human rights violations. Our community has been fed the idea that if we work hard enough, we could buy into the institution of whiteness. Well guess what, y’all? We can’t. We  will never be part of that institution. So if you are standing still, silent and inactive during this epidemic of Black death by police, then you are finishing the project of white supremacy. You are holding up white supremacy.

Instead of being silent because its not happening to the Filipino community, we have to gather our resources, our organizing experience and join in the national and international movement to value Black lives by holding police accountable and demanding a STOP to the killings. We must challenge white supremacy as it continues its centuries-long reign and attack on Black lives.

We have to stand on the right side of history here, ya’ll. We can not be silent. We must act with and under the leadership of Black people. Its the right thing to do. Its the only thing to do.

The Problems with “The Problem With Filipinos”

So, an article called “The Problem With Filipinos” has been posted and shared on social media over the last couple of days. A friend and colleague, Dr. Akissi Britton, shared and tagged me and a Pinay kasama-sista-scholar, Dr. Johanna Almiron-Johnson on it to get our takes on it.

First of all, especially, as tribute to the fake ass Philippine independence day, an article that spells out all of the problems of our community is such a tired and misplaced start. C’mon. Let’s get our lives and start in the place that’s most vibrant, exciting, thrilling, hopeful–the revolutionary mass movement in the Philippines. As Dr. Almiron-Johnson said and I quote

Deep as colonial is deep but it misses the FACT of Filipino history–namely our revolutionary resistance against imperialism and colonialism. It erases the fact that the Philippines continues to be one of the few countries in contemporary history to overthrow its own government not once, twice but three times by People Power. It’s easier to perpetuate the notion that we ain’t woke than that we always have been woke but the violence of white supremacy aka. American imperialism is as relentless as it always has been. What the article does get right is that the damage of colonialism is so far reaching and so deeply internalized that Filipin@s have figured out how to enjoy it. Our colonialism is so queer it hurts.

Ain’t nobody forgetting the travesties under the Marcos dictatorship. While the author states that we are “quick to hate and quicker to forget” but I think she is the one forgetting a mass movement’s continual projection and strategies to avoid re-electing a Marcos to vice presidency. Girl, it was us, it was our people: Filipinos were in the forefront telling the Marcoses to have several seats.

I mean, I could go on but really I wanted to write this because the problem with the identifying Filipinos as the culprit in all of our struggles is:

  1. It doesn’t give Filipinos enough credit for the movement-building that’s happening in our homeland and in the diaspora. I mean Filipino/a-American youth are spending their summers connected to people’s organizations learning about indigenous people’s struggles in Mindanao! Not on that Gawad Kalinga-blame-the-poor-for-being-poor mess, but actual organized youth caring about what organized youth movements are like in the Philippines!
  2. It takes American empire and monopoly capitalism off the hook for the conditions under which Filipinos “don’t know who we are”. We don’t know who we are?? Girl. Bye. We definitely suffer from colonial mentality and often over-value American pop culture but these are vestiges of American colonization and current neocolonialism and cultural imperialism (not just in the Philippines, either!). And as Dr. A-J has said up above, Filipinos have always been “woke” and there’s an unforgettable history and a vibrant movement TODAY that continues that legacy. Peep the list within my list below:

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As the author Sade Andria Zabala predicted, yea, I’m mad. Why? Not because of

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Because for someone who is “airing out” dirty laundry of the community, I hold dear and LOVE, I’m mad that she didn’t even take the time to research the deeply passionate, committed and revolutionary people who make up our community: the migrant worker leaders trailblazing the way for other Filipino/a migrants who are rendered silent because of a broken immigration system. The daily community organizers using their ivy league degrees to make Filipino/a immigrants lives better. The after 40-hours a week volunteers who are meeting until the wee hours of the night to coordinate campaigns to take back SoMa Pilipinas as Filipino/a American geography. The teachers from K-12 to the college classrooms making ourselves visible in the pages and history of the “United” States of America.

We are ALWAYS standing up for our rights. We are ALWAYS standing up and showing up for each other.

So the problem isn’t Filipinos. It isn’t ourselves.

The problem is the system that undervalues our migrant worker mamas, papas, titas and titos, kicking our our elders from SoMa blocks, militarizing our schools (right here in the Bay and in the Mindanao), pouring billions of dollars into political and economic occupation of the Philippines.

Now. The real problem is if you ain’t with the Filipinas/os working tirelessly everyday to upset the set up.

Filipinos in Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica last week, me and my crew took an excursion to the Manuel Antonio national park to take in the beautiful, lush greenery that is Costa Rica and follow a trail to a popular local beach. When we were walking towards the entrance of the park, we wandered into a souvenir shop. As we thumbed through Costa Rican tank tops, beach towels and locally made crafts, one of the shop workers, Kuya Rudy, walked towards me and asked, “Pilipino?” And at that moment, we began a fantastic conversation with these Filipino migrants who live and work in a small town in Costa Rica called Manuel Antonio. They invited us back to lunch after our short hike and stint at the beach and here’s what I learned about them.

 

Ate Gina is the woman to the left of Kuya Rey. She is his wife but she clearly ran the whole show. The storefront, the kitchen and the finances were all under the reign of this Pinay. She told me her story of migrating to Costa Rica and that her business sense migrated with her too. She hopes that in two years, if they work hard enough, they’d like to buy this building to expand their store, restaurant and bed and breakfast. She gave us all discounts and told us there was no other kind of beauty in the world than Filipina beauty.

Gina and Rey

This is Kuya Reynaldo, the cook, the anchor in this family’s chain migration. He came to Costa Rica as a key cutter and then graduated to be a cook at a bed and breakfast. When his employer abandoned him at his workplace, he decided to pick up the work and run the place himself. He brought his wife and family members. Now, he owns this small souvenir shop and restaurant in Manuel Antonio. He cooked and served us Pork Adobo with plantains.

 

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Ate Edna was one of the first to greet us. She gave us a warm smile and invited us to have lunch in their karinderia as she promised us pansit and adobo. She is also the cook of the restaurant and does the books. When I thanked her for our delicious food, she told me how nice it is to speak Tagalog again.

 

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This is Kuya Rudy, a salesman of salesmen, charming and funny, fluent in Spanish, Bisaya, Tagalog and English. He could probably sell ketchup to a man dressed in white. Here he’s pictured with his merchandise mostly manufactured in Costa Rica and some in the Philippines. His humor was typically Filipino, silly and punchy. He made sure he converted all our colones to dollars and all the shoe sizes from 39’s to size 7’s (or something). He told me to come back with my asawa and kids in the future.

Kuya Rudy

 

#migrante #diaspora #globalFilipino #centralFilipinoAmerica #costarica

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Diwang Pinay for academics

In 2009, I had the privilege of being part of a dynamic group of people that did research, wrote and acted in a play and built very strong basis for community-building and migrant worker organizing in New York City. That year, Diwang Pinay as a theatrical production was the first and most impactful way we shared our process. Years later, as the play continues to stay with me, I’ve written about it for academics. The article will be free for 30 days and you can peep what it’s about on Action Research Journal’s blog.

If that doesn’t work, the link is here: http://arj-journal.blogspot.com/2014/01/lights-cameraaction-research.html?spref=tw

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Legal Trafficking is The Philippines’ Labor Export Policy

Forced migration puts hundreds of migrant workers to Louisiana to work long hours without fair wages and indentured servitude. Their living conditions are cramped in substandard facilities. They are kept from the passports and freedom of mobility, therefore kept from their family.

This has got to be a scene out of Django.

Nope. Its about Filipino migrant workers working at an oil barge in New Orleans in 2013.

Here are the 5 things I think you should know about the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) workers:

  • Filipino workers employed by the Grand Isle Shipyard were systematically recruited and sent to Louisiana through the Philippine Labor Export Policy–a legal and institutionalized human trafficking program.When people are like, oh those workers wanted to leave the Philippines, they should be thankful that they have jobs. Well, except for the fact that the Philippine government is in bed with multi-national corporations with companies like GIS and they actually trade the Filipino people like tickets at Chuck E. Cheese–where tickets are the people and money are the prizes. (I know I’m reaching with the analogy here!)
  • The Grand Isle Shipyard’s part in trafficking workers from the Philippines is completely deplorable, but more  offensive is their treatment of the workers: no days off, threats of deportation, 12-14 hour work days, refusal for workers to see their families. Trafficking is usually associated with sex workers and industry. But trafficking happens more and more frequently in low-wage migrant labor. Andhonestly, the trafficking part of migrant workers lives isn’t the worst part. The part where they get to the US and they don’t get paid or get underpaid or when they are stuffed in small living spaces or they get no days off or they don’t get to see their families. That’s absolutely the worst part of it, and really the worst thing that workers face in the history of forever.
  • RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL. Xenophobia is the word used to describe extreme hate for immigrants but what the word elides is that xenophobia is the second cheek on the face of bigotry and discrimination (American as apple pie). Jim Crow didn’t die just yet. Immigrant, undocumented or migrant worker are part of the “collective Black” at the center of racism.

The lawsuit also alleges that American employees weren’t billed for housing and were given preference for sleeping accommodations. “If a Philippine national were assigned to the lower bunk, he would be required to relinquish to an American worker, if he requested it,” the suit said. Read more: Grand Isle Shipyard Lawsuit – The Sociopathic Way We Do Business – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/grand-isle-shipyard-lawsuit-112112#ixzz2IHzamt8f

  • Migrant workers x Oil x Philippine government x multimillion dollar Grand Isle Shipyard Co. The connections between migration, precarious labor, global demand for oil, consumerism, corporate greed, neoliberal states (the Philippines as labor brokering and the US as imperialist), and New Orleans as a historic Filipino migration port leaks with the blood and tears sacrificed by workers for the profit of US imperialism and global capitalism. Migrant workers strung along, exploited and discriminated against, carry the ever-increasing weight of the rest of the world’s (corporations, imperialist governments, and us included y’all) need for fast cars, fast food, fast money.

LASTLY.

  • 80 Filipino overseas workers are filing a lawsuit agains the Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS)–an oil company linked specifically to Black Elk Energy in the Gulf of Mexico.

Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers’ claims are false and should be dismissed. Read more: http://www.katc.com/full-coverage/oil-platform-explosion-november-2012/

Despite the difficult situation they’re in Filipino workers are fighting back. You should think of how you can support them.

In November an explosion claimed the lives of 3 Filipino workers, Avelino Tajonera, Ellroy Corporal and Jerome Malagapo. Let’s honor them by joining the struggle for Grand Isle Shipyard Workers.

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Resources:

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/11/grand_isle_shipyard_charged_wi.html

http://www.wwltv.com/news/eyewitness/brendanmccarthy/Practice-of-enlisting-Filipino-guest-workers-under-question-182119891.html

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/grand-isle-shipyard-lawsuit-112112

http://www.philippineforum.org/2013/01/18/for-immediate-release-family-members-of-filipino-workers-killed-in-louisiana-oil-rig-explosion-demand-justice/

January 11, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 0933-6503487
 
Support statement for OFWs’ lawsuit vs. Grand Isle Shipyard
Justice for victims of Black Elk explosion, stop human trafficking!
Migrante Partylist today expressed support for and strong solidarity with at least 80 Filipino migrant workers who filed a class suit against companies Grand Isle Shipyard, Black Elk Energy and DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
The Grand Isle Shipyard is a company based in Louisiana, USA that hired and deployed Filipino migrant workers to oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico, specifically Black Elk Energy. Filipino workers were recruited in the Philippines through local agency DNR Offshore Crewing Services.
Last November 16, 2012, three Filipino welders were killed while three more were severely injured in the explosion that rocked Black Elk. The Filipino casualties were identified as Avelino Tajonera, Ellroy Corporal and Jerome Malagapo. Black Elk has since had a history of safety problems. Since 2010, Black Elk has been cited 315 times for safety violations. In 2012, Black Elk was cited for 45 incidents of non-compliance to company safety standards.
As a result of the tragedy, more than 80 OFWs filed a class action for violation of the FLSA, discrimination, labor trafficking, slavery and forced servitude, and fraud. The class suit is currently pending at the Louisiana Federal Court.
Since their employment by the said companies in 2005, the Filipino migrant workers have experienced abuses and violations of their rights. They were refused days off, made to work 12-14 hours a day without overtime pay, made to pay illegal fees, were refused visits from and to their families, discriminated against (not allowed to speak to their American co-workers), threatened of deportation and other labor violations.
One worker plaintiff, Saxon Gannod, became temporarily blind because of welding for long hours without rest. While getting medical treatment, he was continuously required to work. Another worker burned inside a tank. He only received three days of medical treatment. Instead, he was hidden in one of the recruiter’s homes without sufficient medical treatment.
At least 500 Filipino workers will potentially benefit should the complainants win the class suit. While American workers enjoy the civil liberties granted any other worker in the US – namely, days off and work holidays and other benefits – Filipino workers are treated like slaves and blatantly discriminated against.
They are being guarded 24 hours a day. Surveillance cameras are set up outside their bunkhouses to prevent them from leaving or escaping. They are asked to leave their rooms and vacate their beds should an American worker decide that he wants to occupy it. Filipino workers are also charged US$1000-US$3000 a month per person for rental of their bunk beds.
Migrante Partylist fully supports the fight of Filipino workers in the said companies and vow to actively campaign for the immediate resolution of their plight. The violations committed by the companies against them are unacceptable. The companies perpetuate modern-day slavery and allow for the discrimination and dehumanization of migrant workers.
Migrante Partylist calls for justice for the three Filipinos who died in the Black Elk explosion. It calls on both Philippine and US Congress to conduct an independent and thorough investigation of the tragedy.
It also calls on the Philippine and US governments to investigate, punish and hold accountable perpetrators of labor trafficking, contract substitution and contract violations of the Filipino migrant workers.
Migrante Partylist likewise denounces any form of neglect and possible white-wash by the Philippine Embassy in the US for denying knowledge about the lawsuit. According to the migrant workers, they have requested a dialogue with the Philippine Ambassador but he refused. In a media interview right after the explosion, he even had the gall to declare that “all is fine” and that “they (Philippine government) are looking forward to bringing in more workers to the companies.
As in other cases of trafficking, discrimination, abuse and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers in the US and elsewhere, it has been proven time and again that only through unity and collective action can Filipino migrant workers assert their rights and obtain justice. ###


Website: http://migranteinternational.org
Office Address: #45 Cambridge St, Cubao, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

“Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers’ claims are false and should be dismissed.”

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http://www.interaksyon.com/article/33424/aquino-signs-ilo-convention-to-protect-domestic-workers-rights

“The committee is chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda. We must act fast if we want the Philippines to be the second state party of the ILO to ratify the convention, next to Uruguay, (although Uruguay has not deposited yet the ratification instrument with the ILO) … The convention requires at least two ratifications to enter into force,” Sana said.

The new ILO standards set out that domestic workers around the world, who take care of families and households, must enjoy the same basic labor rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work; weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours; a limit on in-kind payment; clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

 

To Be A Woman in the Philippines

This picture is from a mobilization for International Women’s Day in the Philippines. The yellow sign says, “Fight (President) Aquino’s Oil Cartel Conspiracy!” and another sign says, “Decrease the Prices of Oil!”  The women are hurling paint balls at the US embassy in this picture as a militant protest to the collusion of the US government, its corporations with the Philippine government. This action commemorates international actions for women’s rights but it also reflects the widespread problem of the rising costs of basic goods. This is an example of womanhood in the Philippines.

A recent article in Foreign Policy, entitle “Five Surprisingly Good Places to Be A Woman” lauds the Philippines as its first site to be surprised about when thinking about the good life for women. I read this article and was irritated by its confluence of the closing of the “gender gap” and a good life for women.

Here are three things that I’d urge you to think about a bit more:

1. Foreign Policy lists “educational attainment” and “health and survival” as top ranking statistics for women in the Philippines. But without a discussion on the hotly debated and often rejected Reproductive Health Bill (See Gabriela Women’s Party’s speech)? This bill that prioritizes education about women’s health and survival keeps getting knocked down.

The second paragraph in the Philippine feature states the obvious caveats that religious (and I’d argue, capitalist) patriarchy also puts the Philippines as the only country in the world who hasn’t legalized divorce or abortion or contraceptives. Yay, what a great place to be as a woman.

2. Being a woman in the Philippines can only be good if her father, son, daughter, bakla neighbor, etc. has a good life. The women in that above picture aren’t fighting for oil decrease for women. They are fighting for oil prices to decrease for everyone. The idea that women will have it good because they can read as fast as men is misleading. Yes, education is important. But so is food. If no one has access to basic goods or jobs, how can life be good for women if its not good for men?

How good is it to be a woman in a country where life isn’t good for any person?

I don’t think the only accurate measure of a having a good life for a woman is their ability to work in the same place as men. I think its better to measure women’s well-being in context of their people’s well-being.

3. The only thing I do agree with Foreign Policy about is that women in the Philippines have a good sense of their democratic and revolutionary potential. The picture above which includes one of my personal sheroes, Nanay Neri (in the purple shirt hurling a paint ball) who is a mass leader of women’s organizations from the urban poor sector, shows that women feel the need to act, militantly and without reserve, against the neoliberal retreats of the state. They don’t only feel the need to act. But they act. All the time. Every day. In new ways. That’s good. Really good.

Happy Women’s History Month!

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RH Bill in the Philippines

The RH Bill has and continues to stir all kinds of frenzy in the Philippines, the only country in the world that still hasn’t made divorce illegal nor has it legislated comprehensive reproductive health education and services. In the 21st century, the resistance of the Philippine government to provide women with access to pap smears, breast and cervical cancer scans, etc. is at best negligent and, at very worst, abhorrent.

Of course we can’t keep the Catholic church’s influence out of this disucssion. A relative of mine, a staunch anti-RH Bill person, has said before its ‘population control’ that we need not birth control or abortion. The problem with that is that  ‘Population control’ attributes a growing population to the unruly behavior of poor people, without taking into consideration the lack of education and health services that is needed for family planning.

Anyway, just recently the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has tried to catch the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), one of the co sponsors of the House Bill 4244 otherwise known as the RH Bill, in the snares of the population control debate, claiming that GWP  admits that the bill they themselves are proposing is not “pro-poor and pro-women.” They left out the rest of the sentence that said that the RH Bill can’t be pro-poor and pro-women “as long as it espouses population control.”

Bulatlat has a better written piece on this HERE.

I think we, Filipino Americans, who think we’re thousands of miles away from the islands from this debate need to listen up (or at least READ up), since similar retreats from basic women’s health care and attacks on women’s bodies are happening right here at home too.

Rep. Luz Ilagan, one of my modern day heroines has written a response which I’m quoting below:

21 February 2012

 

CBCP for Life

470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
1002 Manila, Philippines

 

Dear Editors,

 

In the interest of fairness and accuracy we hope that the “CBCP for Life” will find space for this clarificatory statement in response to an article which appeared in the “CBCP for Life” website on February 20, 2012. The undersigned was quoted out of context thus making it appear that Gabriela, a primary author and advocate for the RH bill supposedly admits that the RH bill is not pro-poor and pro-women.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party has long advocated for a national reproductive health policy that will guarantee marginalized women’s full access to comprehensive maternal and reproductive healthcare.

 

The consolidated RH bill currently contains several provisions that will help ensure poor women and children’s access to healthcare, such as the following:

 

§  Mobile health clinics that will ensure the delivery of health services to far-flung communities and barangays.

§  Improvement and upgrade of equipment available in public health care facilities, including barangay health centers to ensure that they are able to conduct basic reproductive health care procedures such as pap smears.

§  Pro-bono reproductive health care services for indigent women by making it mandatory for all health care workers to provide at least 48 hours annually of reproductive health services free of charge to indigent patients, especially pregnant adolescents.

 

However, the RH Bill currently contains three provisions pertaining to population control:

 

§  Section 2, Guiding Principles, (l): The limited resources of the country cannot be suffered to be spread so thinly to service a burgeoning multitude that makes the allocations grossly inadequate and effectively meaningless;

§  Section 12, Integration of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Component in Anti-Poverty Programs; and

§  Section 25, Implementing Mechanism, where the Population Commission, rather than the DOH per se, is mandated to serve as the coordinating body in the implementation of this bill.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party believes the RH bill’s provisions on population control will overshadow its pro-poor provisions and threatens to effectively confine the delivery of reproductive and maternal health care services to the implementation of population control programs, the distribution of contraceptives and population control mechanisms.

 

Moreover, the population control aspects of the RH bill conveniently blame poverty on women’s bodies, fertility and population while disregarding the impact of social inequities and neo-liberal policies on the country’s growing hunger and poverty.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party remains firm in its position against population control. It will continue to push for amendments to the bill, including the removal of provisions pertaining to population control.

 

Gabriela Women’s Party will continue to fight for full women’s access to healthcare and fight not just for the retention of the pro-poor provisions in the RH bill but will also fight for increased budgetary allocation for healthcare as well as the granting of increased maternity benefits for women workers, among others.

 

Lastly, it is our fervent hope that the Catholic hierarchy, with its preferential option for the poor, will join us in the struggle for genuine reforms to help uplift the lives of poor Filipino women and their families.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN

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