The original article can be read online at Pinoy Weekly HERE
Upping the ante in its call to action to end violence against women, this year’s One Billion Rising for Justice (OBR4J) in the Philippines called for justice for all women victims under what it calls a “disaster presidency” under Benigno Aquino III.
The whole-day, country-wide affair featured flash mobs near “places of injustice” such as the Malacanang Palace, the National Housing Authority, schools and other places, as well as creative performances and political speeches condemning various forms of violence against women and children.
In Mendiola near Malacanang in the morning of Feb. 14, women activists and members of community-based women’s groups danced, while others held up placards calling for justice for victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and taking the Aquino administration to task for its “criminal negligence” on the ensuing humanitarian crisis.
In the afternoon, thousands of participants held a colorful cultural parade from Quezon City Memorial Circle to University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where a huge cultural program was held to culminate this year’s OBR4J campaign.
“After Yolanda hit the country, the Aquino administration has proven itself as a major disaster to the lives of the victims. Instead of acting in response to the need of the victims, (it) has been pushing for public-private partnership to rebuild the affected areas,” said Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary-general.
The thousands of women and men who participated in the OBR4J events also called to public attention the corruption issues, especially pork barrel and Disbursement Acceleration Program, implicating the Aquino administration, as well as the increasingly high prices of basic commodities and utilities.
As with last year’s “rising,” the protesters noted that the present administration also recorded the highest number of cases of violence against women. They have taken the President to task for the impunity that revails in the country.
OBR4J was led by women’s groups Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party, pioneering theater group New Voice Company and participated in by countless grassroots organizations, schools, workers’ unions, government employees’ and teachers’ unions, local government agencies, youth groups,
Women worse off under Aquino
Gabriela, a women organization in the Philippines promoting women’s rights and welfare, said that Filipino women have “suffered more than enough” under the Aquino administration.
For this year’s OBR4J, they were determined to hold this administration accountable for its criminal negligence against the people especially for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). According to Salvador, under Aquino’s regime, impoverished women have been further victimized with unabated price hikes form power, water, oil, and other services.
Meanwhile, women and men from disaster-stricken areas like Eastern Visayas and Bohol and even Mindanao, have yet to recover. Until now, countless families continue to live off meager relief goods, while services and especially medical help, remain scarce. The people also urgently need jobs and livelihood to help them recover from the tragedy and devastation.
Gabriela Women’s Party’s representative in the Lower House, Rep. Emmi De Jesus, added that the Aquino administration also perpetuates injustice by refusing to stamp out patronage politics that has bedeviled Philippine governance for decades. Specifically, the administration has continued the practice of lump sum appropriation—a practice that breeds corruption and unaccountability.
OBR4J also became occasion to honor women heroes such as Maria Lorena Barros, Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida, Maita Gomez, and even the women farmers at the forefront of struggles for democratic rights such as those of Hacienda Luisita, who have been besieged by violent landgrabbing orchestrated by the Aquino-Cojuangco family’s Tarlac Development Company (Tadeco).
“Women themselves sit in front of bulldozers to prevent it from destroying their crops. Women are the ones facing the armed security guards who want to destroy the land they are tilling. And women
also suffer repression and persecution like Tarlac City Councilor Emy Ladera who sided with the farmers in their struggle for land reform,” according to Angie Ipong, former political prisoner and now part of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
Ladera, who is sister of martyred Tarlac councilor Abelardo Ladera, now faces what UMA calls “harassment suits” because of her steadfast support for farmer beneficiaries’ right to till the land in Hacienda Luisita.
Photo by Macky Macaspac
Workers have also joined OBR4J, dancing in front of the House of Representatives, as well as Malacanang and even their work places. They bring to the campaign their issue of low wages and contractualization that have victimized women workers under the Aquino administration, according to Yolly Mabaquiao, 64, from Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
“Even women workers suffer from different abuses in factories like what happened in Advan (a shoe factory with many women workers). Women workers suffer from sexual abuses from the management, aside from facing repression of their labor rights,” according to Mabaquiao.
Women workers are rising for living wage and against contractualization, Mabaquiao added.
“Being contractual means low wage, no or minimal benefits, and no job security which are unjust labor practices especially for women,” Mabaquiao said.
Meanwhile, youth organizations led by Kabataan Party-list also joined the OBR4J in Morayta, Manila in the afternoon and marched to Mendiola. They took the Aquino administration to take for failing to stem tuition and fee increases in public and private universities.
“This year’s One Billion Rising campaign focuses on the concept of justice in all its forms. For us students, justice is putting an end to students’ rights violations perpetrated by school administrations
and ending the cycle of tuition and other fee increases that have vastly affected thousands of students and families throughout the country,” said Sarah Jane Ilago, national president of the National
Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and one of the organizers of OBR4J-University Belt.
After in Morayta, students and youth marched to Mendiola, saying that their call for education and justice must penetrate the guarded walls of Malacanang.
“It is exactly the Aquino administration’s ineptitude that has aggravated the current state of women and the youth sector,” according to Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.
Families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) also joined the event, calling for justice for abused migrant women. Led by Migrante International, Filipino migrants have also led, or participated in, similar “risings” in countries with large Filipino communities such as Hong Kong, the United States, Middle East countries, among others.
Gabriela’s Salvador stressed that one of OBR4J’s messages is that one cannot separate physical or sexual violence against women from economic and political violence that women and children bear the brunt of.
“There is a need to name what or who are accountable for the poverty and violence against women. These structures are still in place and foreign domination particularly the United States are pushing their
neo-liberal agenda beyond their boarders that lead to the sufferings of women across the globe,” added Salvador.
She said women must unite with the men, and other sectors to confront state-sponsored violence and impunity in the country and around the world. The OBR4J events in the Philippines have proven the interconnectedness of various people’s issues and the need for people’s collective action.
In its second year, the One Billion Rising campaign has been successful in calling for action to end all forms of violence against women. But the battle continues.
Text by Pher Pasion & KR Guda | Photos by Macky Macaspac, Jaze Marco, Pher Pasion & Karla Ujano
Photos of events in Mendiola, QC Memorial Circle and UP Diliman, as well as other Filipino-led risings in other places:
Theater artist and One Billion Rising for Justice Global Director Monique Wilson leads the flash mob of hundreds of women activists dancing “Isang Bilyong Babaeng Babangon” in Mendiola, Manila as a protest against Aquino administration’s “criminal neglect” in Yolanda (Haiyan)’s wake and other forms of violence against women. Macky Macaspac
Monique Wilson with Gabriela dancing the OBR Philippines dance. Macky Macaspac
Women workers from Kilusang Mayo Uno join the flash mob. Macky Macaspac
Photo by Pher Pasion
Dancing at Mendiola. Jaze Marco
Grassroots women joining the One Billion Rising read a special print issue of Pinoy Weekly that came out Feb. 14. Pher Pasion
Women and men from People Surge, alliance of survivors of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), joins the afternoon march. Macky Macaspac
Start of the afternoon march in Quezon City. Macky Macaspac
“Aquino: Disaster President” Macky Macaspac
Foreigners join in the parade. Macky Macaspac
Photo by Macky Macaspac
The award-winning UP Pep Squad before the OBR4J crowd in UP Diliman. Pher Pasion
Flashing the OBR hand sign. Karla Ujano
Monique Wilson opens the program in UP Diliman. Macky Macaspac
Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing “I Am Rising”. Pher Pasion
With Bayan Chair Carol Araullo and Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan, among others. Monique Wilson joins V-Men, fellow theater artists, singers and other women leaders in singing “I Am Rising”. Macky Macaspac
Monique Wilson sings “I Am Rising” with one of Yolanda survivors. Macky Macaspac
Fire dancers. Macky Macaspac
Bayang Barrios. Macky Macaspac
Legendary folk musician Lolita Carbon. Macky Macaspac
Community dancing to close the program. Macky Macaspac
Youth organizations as well as people’s groups in Manila gathered in Moryata Avenue, Manila for their own OBR4J event. Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions
Women and youth leaders lead the One Billion Rising for Justice event in Manila. Tudla Productions
Marching to Mendiola. Jun Santiago/Tudla Productions
Risings in different provinces/regions in the Philippines:
OBR4J dancing in UP Los Banos, Laguna. Southern Tagalog Exposure
OBR4J in Rizal province. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Southern Tagalog
OBR4J in Legazpi City, Albay. Contribution/Rico de Mesa Manallo
OBR dancing in Legazpi City. Rico de Mesa Manallo
Baguio City and Cordillera. Contributed Photo/Audrey Beltran
OBR4J in Capiz. Photo courtesy: Gabriela Capiz
Around 3,000 participated in OBR4J event in Capiz, according to Gabriela-Capiz. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Capiz
Dancing in Cotabato City. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Cotabato
OBR4J in Cotabato. Photo courtesy: Gabriela Cotabato
Color-coordinated attires in Davao City. Kilab Multimedia
OBR4J dancing in Davao. Kilab Multimedia
Risings led or participated in by Filipinos in different countries:
Amid the rain, thousands of Filipinos and other people from different nationalities danced for OBR4J in Hong Kong, SAR.Carlos Piocos
OBR4J dancing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy: Gabriela-Riyadh
Gabriela Australia, Anakbayan Melbourne and Migrante Melbourne participated in OBR4J in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. Roni Oracion
Members of Gabriela New York in NY, USA participated in OBR4J event there where V-Day and OBR founder Eve Ensler spoke glowingly about Gabriela. Photo courtesy: Candice Sering