Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pay for your Diwang Pinay 2009 Ads Online!

Welcome to the FiRE Ad Payment page! We've found a quick and convenient way to pay for your program ads for this year's Diwang Pinay! Please select your ad type below, and click "Add to Cart." It will take you to a secured Paypal payment page (takes credit card payments, and no account required!) Pardon the spacing and such, but we had some trouble with the coding! :) Please visit us at!

***note, your payment will be made to FiRE current Finance Officer, Irma Bajar.

Diwang Pinay 2009 Program Sponsorship Ad

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Upcoming events

Return to

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



We have moved our website to! Please update your browsers!




We have moved our website to! Please update your browsers!




We have moved our website to! Please update your browsers!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008



We have moved our website to! Please update your browsers!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Dear friends,

Greetings of peace!

As part of the JUSTICE FOR HAZEL, NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND MIGRANTS CAMPAIGN of MIGRANTE Japan (Interim Coordinating Body or ICB), we are circulating online this support petition to demand Justice for "Hazel" and other victims of rape and sexual violence perpetrated by abusive American soldiers stationed in the various US military bases in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.

We need to gather the widest and broadest support for "Hazel" from local and international friends and other concerned individuals and groups to add pressure and to block attempts to cover up this heinous crime.

MIGRANTE Japan (ICB) will appreciate it very much if you can help us circulate this support petition among members of your organization, friends, and networks.

Thank you very much!

Rosanna Tapiru
Campaign Secretariat


To: Peace-loving Peoples of the World

On February 18, 2008, "Hazel", a 22-year old Filipina, was raped by a US soldier barely 3 days after she arrived in Okinawa, Japan, to work as a cultural dancer. It's been more than 180 days now but so far no formal charge of rape has been filed against the accused, Specialist Sgt. Ronald Edward Hopstock Jr. The US Army Command in Okinawa is now conducting pretrial probe and will decide from now until November 2008 whether to press charges against the accused and conduct military court martial or to dismiss the case. Earlier, the Naha Public Prosecutor's Office had hastily dropped the case of "Hazel" (not her real name) citing "lack of sufficient evidence" as reason even though police and medical reports showed clear indications of sexual and physical abuse on the victim.

We, supporters and defenders of Hazel, the latest victim in a long string of sexual crimes committed by abusive U.S. military soldiers in Japan, are worried about Hazel and what will be the outcome of her case. We are afraid that like in many previous cases of rape and sexual abuse involving American soldiers, the accused may just go unpunished. The slow-paced legal process and the lack of resoluteness on the part of the Japanese prosecutors to pursue the case are clear indications of our worst fear.

We are also frustrated that the Philippine government has done very little effort to support the case of Hazel and to defend her rights. Instead of protecting her and providing all moral, legal and material support she needs, the Arroyo government through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Okinawa and the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, has shown lack of sensitivity and resolve to safeguard the interest of the victim by not making any concrete legal action to pursue the case after it was dropped by the Japanese prosecutors. It virtually surrendered the case to the U.S. Army, and has persistently issued false statements to cover up for its inaction and neglect of the plight of Hazel and other Filipino migrants in Japan.

While we condemn the American soldier for the crimes he committed, we hold the Philippine government principally responsible for what has happened to Hazel and the ordeal that she has to go through for the rest of her life. Like millions of other migrant Filipinos, Hazel took the risk of leaving the country to work overseas because of poverty and serious unemployment problems in the Philippines. She went through all the legal procedures and paid all her dues to be able to legally work in Japan. But sadly, Hazel fell in the hands of unscrupulous talent promoters and club owners because the Philippine government failed to do its job and was nowhere in sight when Hazel needed assistance and protection.
We dare concerned officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and the Office of the Honorary Consulate in Okinawa to immediately resign for failing to perform their mandated duties and obligations to its citizens in Japan. If they cannot protect and defend a rape victim like Hazel, then they have no right to hold any position in government.

We also challenge the U.S. and Japanese governments to side with justice and to refrain from making any cover up of the crime. We appeal for the speedy resolution of the case so that justice may be served to Hazel and members of her family who are also victims like her.

We support the call for JUSTICE for Hazel and other victims of rape and sexual violence committed by abusive American soldiers stationed in the various U.S. military bases and facilities throughout Japan and other countries in Asia. We demand that the accused be formally charged in an appropriate and impartial court and be punished commensurate to the crime he committed.

We will be watching the case closely. We will not allow any cover up much less a miscarriage of justice. In the past, we have seen many cases of rape and sexual abuse perpetrated by American soldiers in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere that have gone unpunished. We vow to relentlessly fight to end this impunity.

We also reiterate our demand to the Arroyo government to implement programs that truly guarantee protection to all migrant Filipinos regardless of their legal status; and to STOP treating migrants like commodities or mere source of dollar revenues for the bankrupt Philippine economy.

We commend the courage and conviction shown by Hazel to fight for justice not only for herself but also for other victims of rape and sexual violence committed by American soldiers, to advance the legitimate cause of women and migrants around the world, and to defend Philippine sovereignty and the dignity of the Filipino people.

We strongly believe that true justice for Hazel and other victims can only be achieved through the combined efforts of people struggling for peace and acting in solidarity with one another to resist all forms of abuse and violence against women and migrants.

We, therefore, appeal to all Filipinos and peace-loving peoples of the world to rally behind Hazel and to stand up for the rights and dignity of women and migrants around the world.


The Undersigned

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mabuhay, Ka Bel!

Dear Friends, Sisters and Comrades,
Apologies for cross posting.

Please find attached GABRIELA Philippines' statement on the death of our beloved comrade Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran. He passed away yesterday, May 20, due to head injuries sustained when he accidentally fell from the roof of his house while repairing it. His remains are at the Philippine Independent Church in Taft Avenue, Manila. He will be cremated on May 27.

Emmi de Jesus
Secretary General



GABRIELA National Alliance of Women mourns with the people with the passing away of Ka Crispin Beltran, representative of Anakpawis Party List, representative of the working class Filipinos.

Ka Bel was relentless in serving the oppressed people, enduring the most difficult of trials, the latest of which was his detention for more than a year for rebellion case orchestrated by the Arroyo regime. His dedication to the working class was such that he inspired and encouraged his own children and grandchildren to become part of the people's struggle.

Ka Bel was an ideal man – passionate in his commitment to serve, devoted to the cause of the people, dependable in the most trying of times.

Ka Bel's death is a great loss but more importantly his life, tirelessly dedicated to serving the oppressed peoples, will forever serve as an inspiration to continue the people's struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.

Mahal ka namin, Ka Bel, we will sorely miss you.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thank you for a GREAT MAYDAY!

FiRE received a lot of press (that we arer still trying to track down!) But here's Jackie on the NYT Slideshow!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Senate Historic Vote on FilVets a Result of Filipino Unity for Full Equity and People's Struggle

News Release
April 28, 2008

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:

Senate Historic Vote on FilVets a Result of Filipino Unity for Full Equity and People's Struggle
Fil-Ams Demand House of Representatives to Complete the Process of Righting a Historical Wrong

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, commends the perseverance of the Filipino WWII Veterans, their families, and the many grassroots organizations who have fought decades for full recognition and equity for Filipino World War II Veterans. The recent passing of US Senate Bill 1315 (S.1315), the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, is a major step towards righting this historical wrong. It is important to underscore that it was only through unrelenting advocacy and massive struggle of many individuals and organizations including our own member organization, that the Filipino WWII Veterans will get their full recognition. And as we await the vote of the House of Representatives, it is important to intensify our advocacy for justice and to demand that the bill will not be watered down.

"It was the blood, sweat, and tears of the Filipino World War II Veterans themselves, their families, and their supporters, marching on the streets for over six decades that made the US Senate turn its head our direction," states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. "Otherwise, the appalling institutional racism in the United States and historical unequal relationship between the US and Philippine governments would continue to enforce the painful 60 year-old status quo of mass deprivation of basic pension benefits for our aging veterans, many of whom have already passed away."

Last week, in a historic vote, the US Senate voted an overwhelming 96 to 1 in favor of passing S. 1315, a bill that would finally provide Filipino World War II Veterans their veterans affairs (VA) pension. Before that, the issue of full equity for Filipino World War II Veterans stood as the single most unifying concern for a broad Filipino-American population of nearly four million in the United States. Numerous Filipino groups took the concern annually to Capitol Hill as well as organized marches and rallies around the veterans' cause.

The Philippines was the first and only direct colony of the United States government acquired through a violent takeover at the turn of the 20th century. At the time of World War II, the Philippines, then a US Commonwealth, provided over 140,000 Filipino men under the US Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) Program, to fight alongside US soldiers in defeating the Japanese Imperial Army. While considered US nationals at the time, the Filipino veterans were only foreign nationals recruited to the US Armed Forces that did not avail of the US government's promise of pension benefits once their service to the United States was completed.

Of the 140,000 Filipino men who fought during World War II, there are less than 18,000 surviving, and many continue to die weekly impoverished and uncompensated for their bravery.

In 1946, the same year the Philippines was granted nominal independence from the US government, Congress and President Truman passed the infamous Rescission Act, which voided Filipino veterans who served alongside US soldiers in the same cause to receive pension benefits. It stated -- "the service of Filipinos shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits."

"We must continue to expose this shameful episode in US history, and hold the US government accountable for its many unforgivable acts," Quijano added.

S. 1315 is a bill that would enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, burial allowances and household grants, and provides for over $221 million in new pension benefits.

As the issue now moves into the House's hands, Filipino-Americans are stepping up their demand that the deal be sealed.

"We cannot back down now. We need to keep the momentum going and keep the pressure on Congress. We urge all freedom-loving citizens to contact their local state representatives and demand full equity for the Filipino veterans especially when the issue is up for a vote in the Lower House this year. We will not cease our collective efforts and actions until justice for our brave veterans is finally attained," Quijano ended. ###

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New York Pinays Redefine the "Struggling Artist"

For Immediate Release

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Secretary General, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, 925-726-5768,

New York Pinays Redefine the "Struggling Artist"

New York, NY--On April 19, 2008, a women's organization, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), held a cultural night dedicated to the artistic talents of Filipino American women. Pinay artists from all over the US showcased their work, alongside New York Filipina artists.

Using art as a vehicle, Diwang Pinay urged Filipino American women in New York to connect their struggles in the US to the ones faced by their counterparts in the Philippines. The evening brought together over 100 people in Greenwich Village's historic Judson Memorial Church, and began with a Brooklyn-based artist, Fly Lady Di, setting up a blank canvas and gradually painted an abstract Philippine flag.

The audience was called to attention as members of Kinding Sindaw, a Moro dance troupe, began playing the kulintang as a backdrop to traditional ceremonial dances. Then, Pinay artists like singer/songwriter, Taospuso, and 1st Quarter Storm, a hip hop duo based inSeattle, Washington performed politically charged work which forced attention to the unresolved human rights situation in the Philippines. The night affirmed an intact community of Filipino women able to nurture artistic growth across their mediums in the New York City area, as well as across the nation.

The featured speaker of the night, GABRIELA secretary general Emmi De Jesus, was flown in from the Philippines and ended the New York leg of her US speaking tour at the first annual Diwang Pinay. After a few days of attending forums representing various local communities organized by FiRE, De Jesus brought a sobering testimony of Filipino women's resistance amidst the corruption and the atrocious human rights record of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"Although GMA is a woman president, she is a shame to Filipino women in the Philippines and all over the world," De Jesus stated, "GMA's blatant neglect of basic rights to life, education, employment and the repression of women's right to fight for social justice is an attack on Filipino women globally."

FiRE, as a part of the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA, committed to calling attention to the human rights violations enacted on women leaders and activists in thePhilippines. Diwang Pinay was intended to be an evolving space tackling issues faced by Filipinas in the United States and abroad. Ultimately, FiRE hopes to encourage women to continue developing the culture of resistance surrounding these turbulent times by bringing awareness to how these violations impact women's lives daily.

FiRE's first annual Diwang Pinay in New York precedes the Diwang Pinay being held in San Francisco on April 25 with a women and art theme, organized by babae-San Francisco and League of Filipino Students and San Francisco State University.


Friday, April 18, 2008

People Power Tour 1!


April 18, 2007

Premier Filipino American emcees, Kiwi (formerly of Native Guns) and Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown of Seattle's Blue Scholars) launch social justice benefit, People Power Tour.

Media Contact:

Bernadette Ellorin – Secretary General of BAYAN USA –
Brian Myers – People Power Tour – National Coordinator -

Two of the West Coast's premier Filipino American emcees, Geologic aka Prometheus Brown of Seattle's Blue Scholars and San Francisco's Kiwi, formerly of Native Guns, are teaming up again to rally youth and students to raise awareness with a nationwide People Power Tour. Geologic elaborated, "We are volunteering to do this concert because we have a responsibility, beyond music, to raise awareness and hopefully incite action that addresses the human rights crisis and government corruption in our homeland."

Over the next 3 weeks, this dynamic duo will criss-cross the West Coast and Midwest, collaborating with local groups and emcees for 13 shows in 11 cities. Proceeds from the tour will be donated to Bayan-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino American organizations advocating for social justice and democracy in the Philippines.

Both Kiwi and Geo are active Filipino community organizers, drawing connections between the struggles of Filipinos in the US and their compatriots back home. They share the view that art is not only a reflection of the world, but a tool which can shape a more just future society. Kiwi shares, "For me personally, I found my identity and was eventually politicized through hip hop, and I feel like I owe it to this culture to make music and do shows that will hopefully have the same impact on this generation of youth and hip hop fans."

From the rapidly gentrifying street-corner to the Ivory Tower of academia, Kiwi and Geo bring forth a message of resistance and self-determination in the tradition of pro-people hip-hop music by such artists as Dead Prez, Public Enemy and KRS-One.

Kiwi adds, "The name of the tour was inspired by the "People Power" movement that drove out two corrupt Presidential regimes in the Philippines. Because part of the focus of this tour is the corruption of the current GMA regime, we felt like the name made a lot of sense." A rapidly growing movement comprising of all sectors of the Filipino community are mobilizing to oust the corrupt administration. In the two previous non-violent People Power movements, the Filipino people ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1986) and the corruption-ridden Joseph Estrada (2001).

While 2007 has seen a decline in politically-motivated killings (a decline, not a stop), in 2008 political and economic conditions in the Philippines have worsened. The GMA administration is wrought in corruption scandals, including the rice crisis, election fraud, corporate nepotism and kickbacks. Increased US military presence threatens Philippine civilians' lives and livelihood. The February, 4, 2008, Sulu Massacre and numerous military rape cases are just some of the most recent violence.

Proceeds from the tour will be donated to support Bayan-USA's local and international campaigns advocating for social justice and democracy in the Philippines. People Power Tour, Part 1 includes shows on International Workers Day - May 1st, and through Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Contact Brian Meyers ( to book People Power Tour, Part 2, during Filipino heritage month (October 2008).



UWM Fireside Lounge
2200 E Kenwood Blvd
Milwaukee, WI - FREE | 8PM

SUNDAY - APRIL 20, 2008
Adobo Express
5343 N Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL
w/ Bagwis
All-ages | 7PM | $10 donation | BYOB


FRIDAY - APRIL 25, 2008
RAW Sushi
523 W 1st Ave.
Spokane, WA
8PM | $7 | 21+ event
w/ Dj Daps1

MONDAY - APRIL 28, 2008
Berbati's Pan
213 SW Ankeny St.
Portland, OR
w/ 1st Quarter Storm, Chev, and DJ Daps1
8pm / all ages

TUESDAY - APRIL 29, 2008 (Daytime Show)
Portland CC
Portland, OR
w/ 1st Quarter Storm

TUESDAY - APRIL 29, 2008 (Evening Show)
Chop Suey
Seattle, WA
w/ 1st Quarter Storm, Chev, Language Arts?
8pm/ all ages / $TBA

WEDNESDAY - April 30, 2008

The Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen
1212 N State Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
w/ Yogoman Burning Band
1st Quarter Storm, Chev, Language Arts and Dj Daps1
$10 / Doors 9:00PM Show at 10:00PM / 21+

THURSDAY - MAY 1, 2008
Geologic performing w/ Blue Scholars
Seattle, WA 4PM
more information:

FRIDAY - MAY 2, 2008

Sacramento State University Sacramento, CA w/ Manifest One and Caprice
$12 adv / $15 at the door / all ages / 8pm

SATURDAY - MAY 3, 2008
Hip-hop in The Park -Berkeley, CA - 12PM | Free!

MONDAY - MAY 5, 2008
Cafe Du Nord
2170 Market St.
San Francisco, CA
$15 | 21+
w/ Kasamas & Nomi of Power Struggle


La Pena
3105 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705 USA 510-849-2568 /
$15 / all ages / 9pm

SUNDAY - MAY 11, 2008
Knitting Factory
Los Angeles, CA
Details TBD

Kiwi's website:
Geologic's website:
Bayan-USA website:


Monday, April 14, 2008

FiRE's Birthday!

Today, FiRE turns one year old! Congratulations to all of us and all of you who make this organization a success! :)

Long live international solidarity!

We know this page has been Diwang Pinay consumed for the last couple of days, but we'd like to invite you to another even earlier this Saturday. This would be a fantastic opportunity to meet Emmi De Jesus, GABRIELA Philippines' Secretary General. It's before Diwang Pinay, and a fantastic thing to attend in the event we won't see you later that night.

You are invited to a reception to meet and greet

Emmi De Jesus
Secretary-General of GABRIELA Philippines
Saturday, APRIL 19 3-5 pm
Solidarity Center
55 W. 17th Street, between 5th and 6th Ave, 5th Flr.
Take N, Q, R, W to 14th Street/Union Sq.
Take F train to 6th Ave./14th St.

GABRIELA Philippines has been a model for other women's movements all over the globe in its near-quarter century of existence through brutal regimes and dictator- ships in the Philippines. It is a national alliance of over
200 women's organizations all over the archipelago. GABRIELA women's militancy has represented the woman's voice against the fascist Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, they continue to rally against the political repression and the increasing militarization in the Philippines.

As an overseas chapter of GABRIELA, FiRE will be hosting the secretary general of GABRIELA Philippines, Emmi De Jesus, a long-time feminist, activist active momentous forum with the Women FightBack Network, she will speak about GABRIELA’s work in the Philippines numbers of Filipino women in the U.S.

Further, the forum will serve to inform our broad and international work towards a women's international movement.

Please join us on Saturday, April 19 from 3-5pm at the Solidarity Center to learn more about the women's situation and movement in the Philippines and build a women's international solidarity movement!

For more information, please contact Valerie at or visit

This event is co-sponsored by Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York City, GABRIELA-USA and the Women's Fightback Network. Everyone invited.

Rsvp by emailing
by Thurs., April 17

Official DIWANG PINAY after party: Katra Lounge

Please join us for the official DIWANG PINAY after party at Katra Lounge. Help us welcome back two of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment's founding members: Robin Castel (now living in the Bay Area, CA) and Sandra Panopio (currently in London, England.) Thank you to these two women for taking the time to return to ring in our first anniversary! We can't wait to see you all!

Katra Lounge
11 pm
Sorry, 21+ only
217 Bowery
(6 to Spring St. / F to 2nd Ave / NR to Prince St. / JMZ to Delancey)

Many thanks to the fabulous Isis for landing this space!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jonna Baldres!

Our loyal kasama and the current SecGen of AnakBayan NY NJ! In lieu of a trraditional bio, she instead submitted a short description of her work which will be on display at Diwang Pinay:

"Baril, Baraha, Biktima"
Everyday, a woman activist's life in the Philippines is at stake. Ironically, the perpetrator of the hundreds of our fallen and missing fellow Filipinas fighting for their rights in the homeland is also a woman. Apparently, violence inflicted upon women is not only a matter of sexism but of class struggle -- the poor versus the rich, the oppressed versus the exploiter, the people versus the hegemony. And at these times when no one is spared, it is not impossible that the next victim of this growing state terrorism could be YOU.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1st Qtr Storm!

All the way from SEATTLE El Dia and Rogue Pinay will be in NYC this SATURDAY for DIWANG PINAY!

1st Quarter Storm is a Filipina hip-hop duo currently based in Seattle, WA. They first appeared on the scene as rogue pinay and El Dia in late 2006, taking to the mic like babies take to the nipple. Their commitment to social justice and cultural work, combined with their love and respect for hip-hop, led to a number of significant collaborations, which organically grew into a partnership in early 2007.

This pair of bisexual Filipinas use their art to speak truth about today's world, contextualizing their struggles in the current conditions of their homeland and promoting a message of conscious action for all. Known for their fierce performances and raw delivery, they call themselves the 1st Quarter Storm in honor of the legacy of warrior women and men who have dedicated their lives to defending the Philippines against conquest and corruption. With Tagalog and English lyrics and a wide range of musical influences, their music grasps imperialism by the horns in hopes of casting it away for good.

Starting here in NYC, 1st Quarter Storm will be sweeping the nation with a walis ting-ting, with plans to drop a full-length album in 2009. They will open in late April for Geologic (Blue Scholars) and Kiwi as a part of the People Power Tour, raising funds and mobilizing support for the Filipino people in their fight to oust current dictator Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The 1st Quarter Storm mixtape, which includes both solo and collaborative efforts, is now available. For booking, contact More information can be found on

Our Keynote Speaker, Emmi De Jesus!

Emmi Amaya De Jesus was born to parents of humble and hardworking peasant backgrounds from different Philippine provinces. Due to economic conditions both moved to the capital city Manila for a better life where they met and married. Even in the city, the De Jesus family struggled economically with her father working as a taxi driver and her mother being a home care provider. The eldest daughter of 7 children Emmi took on responsibilities of helping her mother raise her siblings and maintain the household. She excelled in school and was conscious of her family’s economic struggles, once citing that even though school was free sometimes her siblings didn’t have enough money for transportation to go to school. Despite this Emmi was salutatorian of her elementary school and passed the exam to enter Manila Public Science High School, one of the more prestigious public high schools. She went to the University of the Philippines for college and graduated with a BS in Physics.

During her college years, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law to quell the uprising social activism that challenged his corrupt government. Emmi was a part of “First Quarter Storm” a time period of militant student activism during martial law. She honed a lot of her organizing skills as a student and had the opportunity to work with trade unions and learn more about the exploitation and oppression of Filipino laborers.

In 1977 as part of a May Ist labor day action, she and two other colleagues were putting stickers on jeepneys (Philippine public transportation) that highlighted workers issues and demands. Unfortunately one of the passengers was a police agent and arrested two of the three activists when they ran from the jeepney. This arrest exposed Emmi to how brutal the military was and how Martial Law was being used as means to exercise state power through military might. Emmi’s house was raided and her sister was picked up for questioning and later Emmi’s husband was arrested with very vague charges. The military subjected to mental and psychological torture, often letting her hear how they tortured other arrested activists.

Emmi was released ahead of her husband because of humanitarian reason when she found out she was pregnant. Her husband was released together with other political detainees during the visit of international human rights lawyer as part of the people's organizations' campaign on human rights and against fascism by the Marcos' government.

This was where Emmi started her involvement with the women's movement. She was one of the founding members of SAMAKANA, formed in September 1983. Originally, the name stood for Samahan ng Malayang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (United Free Women) and composed of women of various professions but majority were women from the urban poor communities. SAMAKANA was one of the organizers of the all-women march in October 28, 1983 where they were able to gather around 10,000 women from various sectors carrying the demand to end Marcos dictatorship.

This led to further coordination and processing among women's groups until the decision was arrived at to coalesce and form an all-womens group.In March, 1984, GABRIELA-Philippines was born, a national alliance of women's organizations where SAMAKANA was a founding member.

Emmi continued to work as an organizer of women in urban poor communities. With 3 children growing up and with a very supportive husband who agreed to be the primary income earner for the family, she had the opportunity to continue and develop her work in the women's movement. Emmi made it a point to expose her children to the work she would do and bring them whenever possible; be it in the community, in the meetings, or in street actions. She shared with them the issues and the work that is done vis-a-vis the national situation, the women's situation.

In 1987 Emmi became part of the GABRIELA National Office. She held various positions ranging from part of the administration to coordinatorship of the Campaigns Department. She also did organizing work among women professionals, young women based in schools and women workers while part of the National Secretariat. In these years structures and other organizational matters of the alliance went through various changes. More importantly, GABRIELA principles were sharpened and made sure that its programs of actions are more direct and pronounced for women of marginalized sectors.

In 1998, at the 8th GABRIELA National Congress, Emmi was elected Deputy Secretary General and held this position until 2003. In 2001, Liza Maza, the elected Secretary General, ran and won as one of the 3 representatives under the Bayan Muna Partylist, and Emmi practically functioned as the SecGen of this alliance. In 2003, at its 9th Congress, she was elected as the Secretary General and holds the position at present.

In reflection, Emmi notes that “…24 years of my existence have been fruitful as being part of GABRIELA. With my 3 children now grown-up and all married, with two grandchildren (one each from my two daughters), I take pride that they know me not just as their mother but an activist. My being a GABRIELA is not just delivering my work but a way of life, a 24/7 thing, applying our principles in practical life.”

She also notes that though age and the accompanying stress brought about by my involvement are now taking their toll with my physical capacity she is still trying to her best to deliver what is expected of her. It is the strong support of Gabriela co-workers that makes this possible. She is inspired by the expansion of the organization in the communities and the successful campaigns launched. Youngblood in the organization gives her confidence that this work shall continue to develop and improve as long as the basis for our existence to struggle for women's rights and welfare are there. She is looking forward to the growing support of Gabriela friends internationally and the empowerment of Filipina compatriots with the formation of a Gabriela USA chapter that will educate, organize and mobilize Filipinas towards our liberation.

Your host for the night!

Isis Arias is proud to have been one of the original pinay brunchers before the fire started, and is super proud to be here to watch the flames! Her grandparents hail from Samar but mom was reared in Brooklyn. Bronx born, Brooklyn & Queens raised, she attended Montclair HS in NJ and continued on to Rutgers University. College was an important time for Isis' cultural growth and she went on to run the Douglass Asian Women's Association where she gained most of her event planning and hosting experience. Isis is alumni to the Tagalog On Site program from 05 and sites the trip as one of her most 'spiritual experiences'. She currently works in music publicity for a major label, works events on the side and loves what she does. Shoutouts to FiRE, Moms, Grandpa and all the folk that are in attendance! Peace and love to Grandma, and respect to all that have paved the way.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm perfoming, too!

Hanalei Ramos is a writer, performer, and community educator. She has toured around the nation to various college and university campuses as a spoken word artist. Hanalei has authored Letters to Martha, a personal testimony to her firsthand experience with domestic violence, and published her first collection of poetry and prosetry, Foiled Stars. Hanalei developed her first one-woman show, Guns and Tampons: A History of Violence Against Women I Know, through the generosity of the Asian Arts Initiative, which was performed at the first ever National Asian American Theater Festival. Most recently, Hanalei and Jiny Ung were named fellows for Project Rowhouses (Houston, TX). Hanalei is a proud founding member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) and lives and works in her native Jersey City, New Jersey. Please visit