Tag Archives: Philippines

Why I’m Rising

I am rising because of the thousands of Filipina domestic workers all over the world

They who face uncertainty daily

Walking into the darkness of foreign lands, foreign languages 

Pushed out of their countries, away from their families

I am rising because I carry the legacy of Filipinas who have stood up and fought against impossibly degrading situations

Gabriela Silang, Maria Lorena Barros, Liza Maza, Emmi De Jesus, Joan Salvador, Lorena Sanchez, Irma Bajar, Elaine Villasper, Tina Shauf

I am rising because it runs in my blood

The strength of my mother, my sister, my grandmothers, my cousins

Who wake up daily, rain or shine, tired or sick

Muscles achy, sleep deprived

Shake it off

Relentless

Courageous

Bamboo women, bending against strong winds

Never broken

I am rising because I am a survivor.

Nights of black eyes and quiet cries

Gone

Long gone

Only days of bright eyes and bravery

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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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maligayang pagdating

so really this is the first time, i’ve actually sat down and thought about my trip to the philippines with some type of reflection and reflexivity. and the funny thing is, i’m already here.

in the real time hustle and bustle of my life in the Big Apple, i was super uber still trying to do work, tie up loose ends, save files, get folks out prepped and ready for the summer (expo and stateside), etc. etc. right up until i almost missed my flight out of JFK on sunday morning. what followed was a blur of two–or was it three-days in the Bay Area despedida-ing, barbeQing, laughing, packing and still knotting up or putting on ice the gajillion things i try to stay on top of in my life.

the only real preparation i had for this trip was when i got bit up by 78,000 mosquitoes after the t-storm during the sandiwa conference, and R. took me to get some anti-itch cream and repellant. we walked hand in hand in the humidity from 69th all the way to 61st + 2 long blocks over, and while i held back the temptation to get on the floor like a flea-ridden dog and scratch the skin off my legs, he asked me ever so non-chalantly, “are you ready for the trip, my love?”

i could barely ek out the words, “i’m not sure,” as another mosquito try to feed on my calf.

both he and i knew, i wasn’t ready. even just to muse about the summer. i wasn’t about to sit there an dpretend that i knew nann about my trip and how i felt about. he paused a second, smiled and gave me a reassuring hug. picked my hand back up and bought me some benadryl for my bites. he’s gonna have my back, i know it. i just couldn’t even get anything out.

7 weeks. it still seemed so far away even though the clock was ticking on my sunday morning flight. i would get on that plane the next day.

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“iba talaga ang pilipinas.”

my immigrant narrative is a tale of perpetual returns and departures.

i’m as conflicted about being as i was last year. yearning for my family but ecstatic that i’m out of the belly of the beast. wishing i could share all of this with R. but excited for the lessons we will have learned at the end of our annual sabbatical from each other. kicking myself in the culo for not bringing my FiRE sisters back with me but knowing that they are doing growing with each other on that side of the world. crossing my fingers that i learn something but knowing already that i’m changing already.

all of these, dialectics. internal and external. material and metaphysical. i, then, am situated. roots growing. concrete set. beaten path familiar. i’m here in my elsewhere. between homes and making a home in between.

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the emotional train wreckage that followed me last year has been detailed, journaled, neatly folded up and stuck in my back pocket. i wouldn’t say i wasn’t feeling all my heart strings all through and while flying over the pacific, but i wasn’t a sobbing mess when the airplane landed at NAIA.

perhaps i didn’t have a knee jerk reaction to coming back because i now know what to expect a little. and perhaps still, it hasn’t hit me that i’m here. even now.

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the humidity here is not so different from new york (minus the fucking batallion of insects that attacked me in Queens a couple of days ago). yes, you are right. i have yet to show off not a one philippine grown bug bite yet. do i think i’m fucking invincible right now. HELL TO THE M-FKN YEA. and i was steady outside in the pollution and smoke yestereday too! booyah.

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today, i’ll tralala off to QC hug a couple of good friends and be back in time for galunggong at dinner time. (hopefully) imma do like mel gibson and braveheart the public transpo system in metro-manila in about an hour from now. wish me luck comrades.

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