Thursday, May 31, 2007

UPDATE: 2007 FiRE Summer Screening Series

Come to our Summer Screening Series of documentaries, shorts, and films about different themes affecting Filipino women and women in general. After viewing the films, we'll have a healthy discussion! Different months have different themes (please check back for workshops and EDs, soon!)

Tuesday, July 17: Migrant Workers Month
Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves 6:30p

Tuesday, August 21: Laban for the Lolas (WWII Filipina Comfort Women)
Malaya Lola 6:30p

all screenings @ the International Action Center
39 W 14th St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 633-6646

More Filipinos Marrying Foreigners

More Filipinos Marrying Foreigners
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 11:28pm (Mla time) 05/31/2007

PASAY CITY, Philippines -- Over the last three years, more Filipinos have married foreigners, data obtained by from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas shows.

Last year, 24,904 Filipinos married foreigners, up 18 percent from the previous year's 21,100. The 2005 figure is an 11.4 percent increase from the 2004 figure of 18,933.

Minda Valencia, director of CFO's Migrant Integration and Education Office, attributed the steady increase in inter-marriages to globalization and technology.

"With more Filipinos leaving for abroad, they get more opportunities to meet foreigners. Some meet through relatives who introduce them through letters and make them into pen pals," she said.

"We've also had more cases who meet over the Internet," she added.

Citing CFO records, Valencia said most of the Filipinos marrying foreigners are female. From 1989 to 2006, Filipinas accounted for some 89.2 percent of these unions.

The same set of data shows that Americans comprise the biggest foreign spouses of Filipinos at 126,638 or 40.24 percent of the 309,745 foreigners who have married Filipinos from 1989 to 2006.

This is followed by Japanese at 94,792 or 30.60 percent. Australians are a far third at 25,073 or 8.09 percent.

The rest of the nationality groupings are: Canadians at 12,401 or four percent; Germans at 11,307 or 3.65 percent; Taiwanese at 6,950 or 2.24 percent; British at 5,780 or 1.87 percent; South Koreans at 4,582 or 1.48 percent; and New Zealanders at 2,233 or 0.7 percent.

Valencia said the figures include former Filipinos who married their childhood sweethearts.

"Many of these are from the United States and Australia," she said.

Valencia said the figures are taken from those who are applying for fiancé and spouse passports.

Citing the Passport Act and Department of Foreign Affairs' Department Orders 28-94 and 11-97, she said all these applicants are required to go through counseling which the CFO oversees.

Valencia said the figures do not include all Filipinos who marry foreigners outside the Philippines and who apply for fiancé or spouse passports in the Philippine embassies outside the country.

She said that while the Philippine embassies are required to monitor the number of inter-marriages by Filipinos in their jurisdiction, some of them have not submitted the data to the CFO.

Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cordillera Share Recap

If you've ever been to Baguio City, then you've been in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Previously grouped under the term Igorots, the indigenous peoples of the region are of Apayao, Tinggian, Kalinga, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kankanai, and Ibaloi descent. The national minority includes indigenous peoples of the Philippines who have not adapted to WEstern influences, have distinct cultural practices, and an intact decision making process. Ate Jen of AnakBayan-Cordillera and Kuya Ron of the Association of Concerned Teachers - Phils took some time away from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to share the experiences, concerns, and challenges faced by the collective national minority living in the Cordillera region. They also updated those present at Philippine Forum of ongoing campaigns directed by the Cordillera People's Alliance to fight development aggression (lands given to industrial developers that are taken from groups with ancestral rights to area), particularly focusing on the region's rich water and mining resources.

In the interest of capitalizing on the areas abundant mineral reserves (metallic ores such as gold, copper, silver, zinc, and non-metallic minerals like sand, gravel and sulfur) found within the land the national minority occupies, the Philippine government has aggressively and unfairly redistributed land in the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province to industrial developers. While private companies have been profitting from the Cordillera region, the people have been denied resources and access to basic social services such as health care, schools, roads, etc. Of course, the effects of industry have disrupted the way of life of the national minorities, especially when aided with such legislation:

Mining Act of 1995
Allows industrial developement aggressors to have a renewable 25 year lease, for up to 75 years.

Presidential Decree 705 (Under Marcos)

All land a certain number above sea level are granted lands to corporations, leaving the people of Cordillera in a bind, since the area is comprised mostly of mountain ranges.

NIPAS: National Integrated Protected Areas System
Lands taken under the guise of protected "sanctuaries", but denying those with ancestral claims to land to access sites.

CADT: Certificate of Ancestral Domain and Title
CALC: Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim

Both entitle groups to land usage, but not land ownership. Also, people from areas where the mining industry is centralized have better access and recources to acquire these forms. As a result, these options create a further divide among the different national minority groups. This certificate also allows people not belonging to these clans or tribes to occupy a space in ancestral domain.

IPRA: Indigenous Peoples Rights Act

Says indigenous peoples have rights to land, but does not overpower the Mining Act of 1995. There is currently a critique of this act available through the Cordillera Peoples Alliance; this document is still a point that the Philippine government uses in the international arena to laud how it has been the only Asian nation to recognize its indigenous peoples.

While the Cordillera region is historically known for its resistance against development aggressors, FiRE can only hope to aid the national minority's struggle toward their self-determination, genuine autonomy, and rights to basic social services without imposed conditions. When FiRE asked what organizing can be done by Fil-Ams and other Filipinos abroad, Ate Jen quickly responded to the Philippines' need by saying, "Come home, and see for yourself. Maybe even stay for a long time. Then you'll know what is needed."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Launch National Week of Action Against Illegal Recruitment Agency

News Release
May 24, 2007

Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), email:

Sentosa 27+ March for Justice, Launch National Week of Action Against Illegal Recruitment Agency

New York-- Upon the launching of the Justice for the Sentosa 27 campaign by the abused Filipino healthworkers and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), more victims of abuse and exploitation at the hands of the Sentosa Care LLC, a healthcare management company based in Woodmere, New York are coming forward and joining the fight against illegal recruitment and fair and equal treatment for overseas contract workers.

According to Sentosa 27+ lawyer Felix Vinluan, at least 10 more Filipino healthcare workers have come to his office with similar stories of fraudulent recruitment by Sentosa Care LLC
and have signified their willingness to join the Justice for the Sentosa 27+ campaign.

The national campaign initiative for justice launched last May 6th during National Nurses Week will also embark on a National Week of Action for the Sentosa 27+ beginning on Sunday, June 3rd until Sunday June 10th. Actions in support of the 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist from the Philippines will begin with a Sentosa 27+ contingent that will march during the Philippine Independence Day Celebration in New York City on June 3rd. Solidarity actions are also for San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Chicago under the banner of NAFCON.

"We want our nurses to know that we support them all the way. Filipino nurses and other healthcare professionals are part of the backbone of this country's healthcare system. We will not back down until justice is served," stated NAFCON Vice President Rico Foz.

The alliance of Filipino organizations in the US spanning 23 cities has issued demands along with the Sentosa 27+ for all criminal and civil charges against the healthworkers to be dropped, for immediate compensation of all backwages and due overtime pay, for an investigation of Sentosa Care LLC and its owner Bent Philipson against anti-trafficking laws and involuntary servitude, a permanent suspension of Sentosa recruitment license in the Philippines, and clarification from the offices of US Senator Charles Schumer and former Philippine Chief of Staff Michael Defensor on their roles in having the previous order or suspension of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) lifted last year.

An online petition supporting these demands can be found at

A public information campaign blog with a primer and updates on the issue can also be found at

The campaign has also garnered support from various cause-oriented groups in the Philippines including the Alliance of Health Workers, Migrante International, BAYAN Philippines, and the Health Alliance for Democracy.

The Sentosa Recruitment Agency at the Ortigas Center in Manila continues recruitment trained Filipino healthworkers under so-called employer contracts with various nursing facilities in the New York Area. There are over 4000 outstanding job orders with Sentosa in the Philippines.

The original 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist that comprise the Sentosa 27 came forward when none of the terms of their contracts with Sentosa were recognized. A class action suit against Philipson was filed last year for workplace discrimination.

For more information, email NAFCON at ###

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Sandy has been an amazing organizational partner and friend. When we had to wish her well as she starts a new life this fall in London (though she will be making a quick stop in the Philippines--- where she and Val will reunite during Expo trips), everyone's hearts broke a little. As a one of the six founding members of FiRE, she has been an incredible asset to this organization, community, and movement. Best of luck, Sundraaaaa, and we can't wait to see you when you return for Diwang Pinay next year! <3

Young Women's Safety Summit

Young Women's Safety Summit
10AM – 4PM

Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women
420 East 12th St. between 1st Ave. and Ave. A
(Take L train to 1st Ave.)

A day for young women to gain the confidence and skills to stay safe in unsafe situations. Lunch will be provided! Raffle prizes!

Workshops: self-defense, pregnancy and STD prevention, internet safety and relationship violence!!! Free henna tattoos and photo/poetry books!!!

RSVP to Lorraine Marasigan at (212) 925-3320 x24
or by May 26th

FiRE Summer Screening Series 2007!


Film Screening of Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves and Discussion
Tuesday, July 17th 7-9 pm

International Action Center (IAC)
55 West 17th Street between 5th and 6th Ave, 5th Floor
Take N, Q, R, W to 14th Street/Union Square

In light of the recent NYT article, "A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves" By JASON DePARLE, it has come to the attention of the mainstream U.S. that there is a dire need for reform in the way the Philippines views its terms of accountability to its Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs.) Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) invites you to join this dialogue by attending our screening of Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves which touches on the poor economic conditions in the Philippines, where thousands leave and seek work as domestic workers in "developed nations." This crucial source of revenue to the country's economy has prompted the Philippine government to call these contract workers "modern day heroes." Despite the obvious exploitation experienced by these workers, the Philippine government is reluctant to pressure foreign governments for fair treatment in fear of losing revenue. With New York City accounting for one of largest populations of domestic workers on the east coast, this screening of Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves is the beginning of a much needed dialogue in our community.


Film Screening of Malay Lolas and Discussion
Tuesday, August 21st 7-9 pm

International Action Center (IAC)
55 West 17th Street between 5th and 6th Ave, 5th Floor
Take N, Q, R, W to 14th Street/Union Square

Kaisa Ka introduces us to the surviving Filipina comfort women of World War II.

Both films will begin promptly at 7 pm, the discussion and Q and A will follow, and light fare will be served.

We look forward to seeing you!

These events are sponsored by Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE). Please learn more about us by visiting // Email us:

6/3: Philippine Independence Day Parade!

Please join us!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Recap: Fely Garcia's Wake

FiRE Statement

The women of FiRE would like to express our sincere condolences to Garry, Gliff , and to the rest of Ate Fely Garcia’s family.

FiRE is honored to have contributed to the campaign by helping to provide press statements and other additional support during the process of the campaign.

Kahit hindi namin nakilala, nakasama, o nakausap si Ate Fely naiintindihan namin ang pagpunta niya dito, ang pag sakripicio para sa pamilya.

We are fortunate enough to be a part of a community that supports and protects, without a doubt, her rights and the rights of Filipinos here and abroad. It is within our community that we have our strength in solidarity, and with our solidarity, we will continue to fight against the injustices that Fely faced as well as for our sisters and brothers who come to live the American Dream. Let us not say goodbye to Ate Fely as a fallen sister; she is instead out inspiration for a brighter, more dignified future for those home in the Philippines, for those here now, and for those to come.

On Sunday April 29th, 2007 the Filipino American community of NYC/NJ came together to bid farewell to Felisa “Fely” Garcia, a domestic worker who was found dead in her apartment in the Bronx on March 14th. The organizers of the wake, Kabalikat Domestic Workers Support Network, worked to convey the messages of sorrow, hope, and the need for justice in the community.

The community wake took place at the Greenwich Village where over 200 people came to pay their respects. Two of her five children, Garry and Gliff, came from the Philippines to collect the remains of their mother.

Garry, Fely’s eldest son shared a few words about his family and his mother, noting that his mother came from humble beginnings and was a teacher in the Philippines. He expressed a deep gratitude for the work done to help his mother’s case and for facilitating he and his brother’s arrival to claim their mother’s remains.

The public outpour of support produced a gathering of some of Ate Fely’s friends and family, as well as community organizations such as FiRE, Lakas Diwa, AnakBayan NY/NJ, Philippine Forum, Kinding Sindaw, and BAYAN Philippines offered statements, songs, and poems.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sentosa 27 Online DEVELOPMENTS!


The Sentosa 27 discussion guide is availablle on this website at:

A PDF version of the discussion guide is also available for download at: (Right clisk, then "Save As") to make available to print and pass out.

Fil-Am Groups Laud "Sentosa 27" Healthworkers for Fighting Injustice International Campaign, Online Petition Launches on National Nurses Week

News Release
May 8, 2007

Reference: Archiel Buagas, Justice for Sentosa 27 Campaign, email:; Rico Foz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email:

Fil-Am Groups Laud "Sentosa 27" Healthworkers for Fighting Injustice International Campaign, Online Petition Launches on National Nurses Week

New York - At the end of an intensely emotional town hall meeting at the Philippine Forum headquarters last Sunday evening, individuals and groups officially kicked off National Nurses week in the United States with vows to clear the 27 former Sentosa-employed health workers, including one of their lawyers, Atty. Felix Vinluan, from all criminal and civil charges filed against them by the former, officially registered as Sentosa Care LLC and its various health care facilities in New York.

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), a national alliance of Filipino
organizations in the US with international networks, is spearheading the "Justice for the Sentosa 27" campaign along with said healthworkers that also aims to collect unpaid overtime and back wages due the Sentosa refused to release, have the State of
New York investigate the agency's overseas hiring and work operations, and have US Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat of New York and Philippine senatorial candidate Michael Defensor to explain their roles in the lifting of the suspension of the
Sentosa license in Philippines two weeks after it was ordered by the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency (POEA).

An online petition outlining these demands can be found at

"We arrived in New York in November, in the cold season. We were brought to the staff house where we were stay for two months for free and save money we need when we move to an apartment. When we got there, Dr. Jacinto (the famous top notcher doctor-turned-top notcher nurse) and I shared the room with other Filipino nurses. We took turns sleeping on the bed and on the floor. It wasn't comfortable, but I didn't complain. I told myself, if Dr. Jacinto who topped the board exams is not
complaining, I shouldn't be complaining," said James Millena, also a nurse-turned-doctor who revealed that he was assigned to handle 100 patients by himself throughout his shift.

NAFCON hailed the "Sentosa 27", as the health workers are now called, for "standing up to Goliath" in the defense of their rights as immigrant workers and as Filipinos. Stories of how Filipino workers, particularly health professionals, suffer in the
hands of their employers in the United States circulate from time to time.

"For the first time, health professionals bravely came out to fight for what is right. To defend not only their dignity but that of the Filipino people in the US," community lawyer Merit Salud said in his statement of support to the Sentosa 27.

The World Health Organization has cited the Philippines as the "largest source of registered nurses working overseas". They also cite that there are about 15,000 nurses who leave the Philippines annually to be farmed in 30 different countries. The
United States remains to top destination for Filipino nurses, who train aggressively under the Philippine government's Labor Export Policy (LEP).

"We are launching this campaign with our international friends to expose failures in the US government's domestic policies on immigration and labor and the Philippine government's domestic policies in outmigration and protecting the basic rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers," stated Berna Ellorin, Special Commissioner on
Philippine Affairs for NAFCON and secretary-general of BAYAN USA.

International carriers of the "Justice for the Sentosa 27" campaign include the Philippine-based Alliance of Health Workers, Migrante International, Health Alliance for Democracy, and BAYAN Philippines. US-based carriers include labor groups as well as Filipino-American groups spanning over 23 cities under NAFCON.

Philippine Forum conferred the "Gawad Bulosan (Bulosan Award)" to the Sentosa 27 "for their bravery and courage" to fight for their rights as immigrant workers. The award is given annually in honor of Filipino immigrant worker Carlos Bulosan who became a celebrated writer/activist in the United States in the 1930s and 40s.

Sen. Schumer wrote the Philippines Government after the Order for Preventive Suspension was given to the Sentosa Recruitment Agency, the Philippine branch of Sentosa Care Group. Acting on the US senator's letter, the aspiring Philippine senator Defensor called POEA administrator Rosalinda Baldoz. The "Sentosa 27" acquired copies/records of said correspondences.

"We came to America, like most Filipinos, in search of the better life," Maricelle Dealo said to stress that what they found out as soon as they arrived in New York to work for the Sentosa facilities was exactly the opposite.

The next public campaign meeting for the Sentosa 27 is this Sunday, May 13th, 5pm at the Philippine Forum office at 54-05 Seabury Street, in Elmhurst. (Take V/G/R to Grand Ave/Newtown).

For more information on the Justice for the Sentosa 27 campaign, email: or call 718-565-8862. ###


12 May 2007
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, 0917- 3221203 / 371-2302


Armed with brooms, flyswatters and ladles, the women of Gabriela vowed they would use all "arms" at hand to defend the votes of Gabriela Women's Party, the only women's sectoral representative in the 13th Congress.

"We are well aware that there is a grand scheme against progressive partylists like Gabriela Women's Party, and we are calling on all women to be vigilant against misinformation, disenfranchisement and fraud," said Emmi de Jesus, Gabriela Secretary General.

Clad in white, the women's group marched from Sta. Cruz Church to the Commission on Elections this morning to call for clean and honest elections.

"Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo owes her seat in Malacañang to systematic fraud and dirty machinations and she can only maintain presidency by cheating her opposition. Any "Hello Garci 2" operation is bound to fail. We will protect our votes and defend our democratic right to choose our representation, " added de Jesus.

De Jesus added that they have hundreds of women volunteers for poll and canvass watch nationwide. "Young women, mothers, professionals and even elderly women have volunteered their time and resources to protect the votes of Gabriela Women's Party. We are confident that with this spirit, Gabriela Women's Party will win in this partylist elections."

Please visit, or go to

Saturday, May 12, 2007

TEXT B.A.C.K. Campaign!

Dear Friends:

In this final push for clean and honest elections in the Philippines, the TEXT B.A.C.K. (Text Brigade Against Cheating and Killings) Campaign of BAYAN USA is happy to announce new RINGTONES by various BAYAN USA artists, including:

KIWI (formerly of Native Guns)

download your free ringtones at:

Each TEXTBACK ringtone sends a message against intensified election fraud and violence during this critical time.

and remember....


In Struggle,
BAYAN USA Executive Committee

TEXTBACK: Fil-Am Women Launch National Text Brigade Initiative For Philippine Elections

News Release
May 11, 2007

Donna Denina, Chair, Pinay Sa Seattle & BAYAN USA Women's Committee Representative

Joanna Robledo-Maderazo, Education Development Officer, babae - San Francisco & BAYAN USA Women's Committee Representative

Valerie Francisco, Chair, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FIRE) NYC

TEXTBACK: Fil-Am Women Launch National Text Brigade Initiative For Philippine Elections
A Mother's Day Gift for Women of the Philippines- Gabriela Womens Partylist

On this Mother's Day, Filipino Americans are celebrating the women in their lives by stepping up to promote better legislators in the Philippine Congress, specifically ones who will defend and promote the rights and welfare of women in the Philippines. Pinay Sa Seattle, babae - San Francisco, and Filipinas for Rights & Empowerment New York City, women's organizations of the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN USA, are targeting friends, family, and loved ones of the Filipino-American Community in the Philippines to vote for Gabriela Women's Party through a nationwide text brigade called TEXT BACK (TEXT Brigade Against Cheating and Killings), an initiative of BAYAN USA which began on May 6, 2007.

Whether she is an aunt, cousin, sister, sister-in-law, daughter, grandmother, or mother, the majority of Filipino Americans have a woman relative affected by the policies of the Philippine government. The Gabriela Women's Party, has been the sole voice of Filipino women in the Philippine Congress since 2004. Gabriela Women's Party, represented by Liza Maza, has brought the issues and plight of Filipino women to national and international attention. This election season, Gabriela Women's Party aims to win three seats in the Philippine Congress to increase the representation of progressive women, as well as to further push the issues and concerns of the majority of Filipino women within the the Philippine Congress.

"With over 750,000 women exported from the Philippines to over 203 countries in 2005 alone, and 30% of those women being trafficked into the sex trade, it is imperative that we have a Gabriela Women's Party list to ensure that women's voices in the Philippines be heard in Congress and the issues which make these women susceptible to the sex trade be addressed." states Donna Denina, BAYAN USA Women's Committee Representative.

Denina also relayed the importance of recognizing and supporting all progressive partylists such as Kabataan Party, Suara Bangsamoro, Anakpawis, and Bayan Muna. "The unabated killings and disappearances of activists in the Philippines continue and it's imperative that progressive Filipinos have the avenue to voice their opposition and demand government accountability of these killings in Congress.

Beginning Saturday, May 12th 5pm PT/8pm ET in the United States, nationally-coordinated text messages will be sent from texters in New York, San Franciso, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Honolulu and other US cities to various Philippine cities including Manila, Baguio, Davao, and Cebu City. The texts will reach the Philippines on their Mother's Day.

Text messages will be sent in Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano, and English. Messages will include catch-phrases such as: Itong araw ng mga nanay, Ipakita ang mahal na tunay, Pandaraya, labanan, Para sa isang bayan na Malaya, Political killings tutulan, Para sa kabutihan ng taong-bayan, Iboto Gabriela Women's Party (On this mother's day, Show love that is true, fight against fraud, for a nation that is free, Stop political killings, for the goodness of our people, Vote Gabriela Women's Party) and signed TEXTBACK USA.

The action aims to encourage Filipinos in the US and in other global regions to forward text messages to their respective loved ones back in the Philippines .

BAYAN USA and its member women's organizations: Pinay sa Seattle, babae - San Francisco, and FIRE - New York, hope these texts will spread like wildfire to deliver the most valuable Mother's Day Gift of all - justice for Filipino women. ###


Please take a minute to send the following message to your relatives
and friends in the Philippines this Mother's Day.

Send them via text message, e-mail, Yahoo messenger, Gmail chat or
any other form. Post them to various listserves, websites, discussion
groups. Send them as testimonies on Friendster or messages on Myspace.
Any which way, just spread them as far and wide as possible:


On this Mother's Day
Show love that is true
Fight against fraud
For a nation that is free
Stop political killings
For the goodness of our people

TEXT BACK (Brigade Against Cheating & Killings) - USA

"Our votes may not count, but our voices will be heard:
No to cheating! Stop Political Killings!
Vote for Progressive Party Lists!"


For more information about the TEXT BACK Campaign contact:
Joanna Robledo-Maderazo, babae - San Francisco, E:, P: 415-637-4129
Valerie Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FIRE) New York, E:, P: 925-726-5768

Donna Denina, Pinay Sa Seattle, E: , P: 206-300-0927

Friday, May 11, 2007

Support Gabriela Women's Party!

FiRE Supports Gabriela Partylist Nominee, Flora Baniaga-Belinan! (Official statement at link.)

Bulatlat feature found here:

Gabriela Women’s Party is a sectoral party dedicated to promoting the rights and welfare of marginalized and under-represented Filipino women through participation in the country’s electoral system and organs of governance. It is a sectoral party composed of women 18 years and above, having varied occupations, education, interests, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. The Gabriela Women’s Party seeks to harness the potential, initiative, skills, and leadership of marginalized women towards empowerment, justice, and equality.

Please take a minute to send the following message to your relatives and friends in the Philippines. Send them via text message, e-mail, Yahoo messenger, gmail chat or any other form. Post them to various listserves, websites, discussion groups. Send them as testimonies on friendster or messages on myspace. Any which way, just spread them as far and wide as possible:

Itong araw ng mga nanay
Ipakita ang mahal na tunay
Pandaraya labanan
Para sa isang bayan na malaya
Political killings tutulan
Para sa kabutihan ng taong-bayan
Iboto Gabriela Women's Party

On this mother's day
Show love that is true
Fight against fraud
For a nation that is free
Stop political Killings
For the goodness of our people
Vote Gabriela Women's Party


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Laban Para Sa Mga Lola!

"World War II Comfort Women are the 200,000 girls and women abducted by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII forced to experience a life of systematic rape and enslavement. They are now mostly in their 80s and they are dying. They were taken from Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Of the 200,000 women and girls abducted 1000 of them were Filipina and only 173 of them have come forward. That means your lola may be holding onto a painful and (to her) shameful experience. We need to demonstrate that this is a Fil-Am issue too, our lolas’ issues and our WW2 generation’s especially. If we want to represent the lolas, we’ve got to be a presence in the coalition."

The 121 Coalition was created to push the passage of House Resolution 121, introduced by Congressman Mike Honda. HR 121 calls upon Japan to apologize to the victims of "comfort stations." In light of recent comments by Japan Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo, denying that comfort women were forced into slavery by the Japanese government during WWII, it is even more important to back survivors coming forward who have been silenced for all these years, nursing this shame.

Within the 121 Coalition, there are nearly 200 civic groups that are members. They are mostly campaigning for people to write to their Representative in Congress to co-sponsor the resolution. They are aiming for 120 co-sponsors. If you go to 121 Coalition's, website you will see dozens of Korean American Collectives and Organizations, however the Filipino American community needs to mobilize in order to clarify that this is not just a Korean American issue. Many stories of surviving Filipina comfort women can be found on M. Evelina Galang's website,, where through LILA Pilipina, she has met many of the remaining few.

Time is running out. The Lolas need our help. Here is what we can do:

  • Sign the online petition. It takes one minute:

  • Send your congress person an email, individually AND as an organization, supporting House Res 121. You can find that info here:

  • Make your Filipino community aware of this issue! Especially if you are in California: host briefings, film screenings, and contact M. Evelina Galang at , to see how you can best serve this cause!

  • Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

    FiRE received a chockfull of information regarding sexual harassment. In light of the workshop we just did yesterday at the Sexual Harassment Summit, we thought this information might be pertinent, and prove useful for folks inthe future.

    Unfortunately, there aren't that many non-profit organizations out there that provide services to those who have endured sexual harassment. Much unlike domestic violence, there isn't as much programming as readily available. However, we were able to find an online support forum for sexual harassment and stalking survivors.

    To find a lawyer who concentrates in sexual harassment cases, visit the followin site:FIBASH Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment is an excellent free legal advice and assistance site with just about everything you need to know to file a complaint, a grievance, or a law suit, including finding the right lawyer in any state, understanding the laws in force, and how to collect written and taped evidence. More links to online resources can be found here:

    According to Atty. Cristina A. Godinez, a lawyer practicing from the NYC area, "it's best to start the process by calling the NYS Division of Human Rights. (details below) Once you report your case, this office is required to begin an investigation. One should:

  • write down the details of the incident and include dates, time, place, persons present, verbatim remarks of the harasser, if any, and how you felt about the incident, etc.)
  • if there are witnesses, write down their names and contact details.
  • keep relevant documents as well. This will make the work of the investigator easier and a detailed recollection of the incident is generally considered
    more credible.

    "If she is not yet prepared to make written notes about the incident, it's okay.
    The intake officer will conduct an interview in person or by phone. Then, be sure to take note of the name of the interviewer so that you can follow up the case.

    New York State Division of Human Rights
    ( )
    55 W 125th St.
    New York, NY 10027

    For a listing in other states, please visit this site:

    To determine other NY departments to file your grievances, visit:

    If you're a member of a women's organization who has internal committees
    or working groups that address this issue, please let us know: .

  • Street Harrassment Summit Workshop Recap!

    Thank you to those who chose to attend our “How to DEAL” workshop at the Summit! The young women of the Sisters In Strength Program did a stellar job in planning this conference. Even better, we were treated to some tasty 5Borough ice cream: Staten Island flavor!

    The workshop was very intimate, and we were glad to have youth from the Girls & Young Women’s Initiative present! The young women were very open in sharing their personal experiences with street harassment within a very specific portion of the city. With another woman present who attended school in the same area, as well, it was an unfortunate realization that students are still preyed upon, followed, and left to feel unsafe. The workshop covered scenarios that people frequently hear about, then relegate to urban legend--- mostly involving unwanted advances from predators. The youth leaders from the Girls & Young Women’s Initiative shined during the break out sessions and really tackled the scenarios in creative ways, teaching the FiRE facilitators a thing or five.

    Again, thank you for attending FiRE’s first public youth workshop since its founding! WE appreciate your participation and would really love opportunities to collaborate, SO KEEP IN TOUCH!!!

    Monday, May 7, 2007

    Sentosa Townhall Meeting Recap

    The Sentosa Townhall Meeting this past Sunday was a step forward to seeking justice for our sisters and brothers in the health field.

    We learned about the numerous breaches of contract by the Sentosa Agency involving 27 nurses who have volunteered to step up. There may be many more. The trafficking conditions ranged from unspeakable living conditions, withholding green cards, withholding pay, etc. An online petition outlining these demands can be found at

    Stay tuned for the discussion guide and featured stories of some of the Sentosa nurses.

    DISCUSSION GUIDE: Facts about the Justice for the Sentosa 27 Campaign

    An online petition outlining these demands can be found at

    A .pdf version of this document can be found at: (Right clisk, then "Save As")

    Together with the Filipino-American community, community-based organizations, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), solidarity networks worldwide, allies and friends; we call for the following demands:

    1. to have all criminal and civil charges against the Sentosa 27 dropped by the State of New York;

    2. to seek unpaid overtime wage compensation and all other backwages for the Sentosa 27;

    3. to permanently revoke the recruitment license of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency in Manila;

    4. to call for an immediate investigation by the state of New York of all Sentosa operations on the basis of violations of human trafficking laws and involuntary servitude;

    5. to seek explanation from the Office of US Senator Charles Schumer of New York State on matters regarding correspondences between his office over the handling of the victims' class action suit against Sentosa with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and the Philippine Consulate General in New York, Ms. Cecilia Rebong ; and, to seek explanation from the Office of the Philippine Secretary of State and senatorial candidate Michael Defensor on matters regarding correspondences between his office over the handling of the a previous license suspension by the POEA of Sentosa that led to the eventual lifting of the said suspension

    Q: What is Sentosa?
    A: Sentosa Care, LLC is a healthcare management
    company owned and by Bent Philipson. Philipson is also the managing partner and chief operating officer of several nursing home facilities affiliated with the Sentosa Recruitment Agency.

    Q. Who are the Sentosa 27?
    A: The Sentosa 27 are 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist who signed up to work in the United States through the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in Manila, Philippines. They each signed to work for different nursing facilities in New York as termed in their employment agreement contracts. Among the Sentosa 27 is Elmer Jacinto, a medical doctor who scored the highest in the national medical board exams in the Philippines.

    Q: What violations did Sentosa commit?
    A: Upon their arrival in New York, most of the nurses were surprised to find themselves assigned at nursing home facilities different from the ones that sponsored them. Worse, all of them discovered that they were made agency employees of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa Services. Other contract violations followed, including but not limited to:
    · Withholding of green cards
    · Wage rate ($12-14/hour reduced)
    · Work hours and overtime terms (backwages)
    · Withholding of benefits promised

    Q: Why are the Sentosa 27 seeking justice?
    A: Sentosa retaliated against the nurses by filing civil charges for breach of contracts. The POEA also lifted the suspension less than 2 weeks after issuing it after reports that US Senator Charles Schumer and then-Philippine Cabinet Secretary Mike Defensor both intervened with the Philippine Consulate in NY and the POEA to have the suspension lifted. Philipson is believed to be a political contributor to both elected officials.
    How can you show support for the q Sign the online petitionq Sign you organization to carry the campaign and receive updates from NAFCONq Join actions coordinated by NAFCON in the US and in the Philippines.q Help spread the word with outreach to your friends and networks.

    Q: Why is it important to support the Sentosa 27?
    A: This is a case that not only touches on massive labor law violations, but anti-trafficking and involuntary servitude as well.

    The Philippines is the world’s number one exporter of health workers, many of whom seek to work in the United States. The Sentosa 27 represent the droves and droves of Filipino nurses exiting the Philippines in search of greener pastures.

    But forced migration should not be at the cost of human dignity and respect. Filipino workers, and all foreign contract workers, deserve equal recognition and equal rights to citizen workers.

    Sentosa Care LLC continues to recruit health care professionals from the Philippines. There are over 4000 outstanding job orders with the Sentosa in the Philippines.

    Though the pursuit of justice has been stunted through various channels, the Filipino, nursing, and various other contract labor sectors have the collective power to seek justice for the Sentosa 27 by way of community pressure to meet the Sentosa 27’s demands.

    Q: What initial steps did they take?
    A: The nurses called the attention of the New York State Nurses Association about their work conditions. They also complained to the Philippine Labor Attaché’s Office in Washington DC and the Consulate General in New York, which referred them for legal advice and consultation with lawyer Felix Vinluan. On April 6, 2006, Vinluan lodged the nurses' discrimination charges against Philipson and his group of companies before the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices under the Department of Justice in Washington DC. Vinluan also filed an administrative case against Sentosa Recruitment Agency before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)., which led to the suspension of license.

    How can you show support for the Sentosa 27?
    - Sign the online petition
    - Sign your organization to carry the campaign and receive updates from NAFCON
    - Join actions coordinated by NAFCON in the US and in the Philippines.
    - Help spread the word with outreach to your friends and networks.

    The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, or NAFCON, is a multi-sectoral network of Filipino-American groups and individuals across the US, spanning 23 cities, for the promotion of Filipino culture, the protection of the Filipino people’s rights and welfare in the US, and the advancement of Filipino-American community interests.


    Executive Vice President

    Executive Director

    National Headquarters
    54-05 Seabury Street
    New York, NY 11373

    Phone: 718-565-8862
    Email: nafconusa @

    May Day Recap

    On May 1, FiRE flew our flag in solidarity with all of the imigrant groups out in the streets of New York.

    So many immigrants were represented on stage and in the march. It was truly an amazing sight to see and hear similar chants and demands from each immigrant communities.

    Right to a fair wage. Right to healthcare. Right to education. Legalization for all.

    The immigrant rights movement is gaining strength and FiRE is more than ready to commit to the long fight.

    Shouts to Pinay Power brunchers: Lynda and Lor who came out to march!

    What do we say to the president?

    What do we say to the government?

    Racism has got to end!

    We are not no aliens!

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    May 1st Statement

    May 1, 2007

    Reference: Chito Quijano, Chair, BAYAN USA, email: chair @

    Filipinos Unite With All Immigrant Workers vs.
    Domestic War Inside World's #1 Labor-Hosting Beast
    Statement of Solidarity of the US Chapter of BAYAN for the Great American Boycott II

    Justice for all immigrants!

    Today, May 1, 2007, the mass movement of immigrants and workers in the United States will rise up in unity against the intensified attacks and repressive state measures of the US government versus the ranks of the common working people, both foreign and US-born. The US Chapter of BAYAN, an umbrella coalition of multi-sectoral organizations fighting for social change in the Philippines and building resistance against US foreign policy will be amongst the ranks of those taking to the streets in major US cities for the continuation of the Great American Boycott for immigrant rights.

    We also remember and salute Filipino migrant workers in the US such as domestic worker Fely Garcia and the courageous Sentosa nurses still struggling for justice amidst oppressive legislation and policy.

    It's important to remember that the United States is the number one labor-hosting nation in the world. It imports mass droves of workers from developing nations to service the cheap labor needs of its monopoly capitalist economy. A huge percentage of these workers come from Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific global regions, whose countries suffer from the maldevelopment imposed by US-led neoliberal globalization and its agents, a form of war against the smaller economies of nations to stunt development and progress, and hence incapacitate countries to feed and sustain life for its own citizens.

    The Philippines is among the top three labor sending countries in the world, with the most foreign-dependent economy in the world. Natural resources are plundered and internal work industries are not allowed to flourish. This drives the county's basic problems of landlessness, joblessness, and deepening poverty. Every day, at least 3000 Filipinos exit the Philippines to search for work abroad. In fact, migration is so ingrained in Philippine culture, the US-structured education system is molded to rear Filipino children dreaming of serving their country best by leaving it as trained and skilled professional workers versus serving their own countrymen. This is the hard reality for a majority of the world's workers driven by the global engine of poverty and the desire to survive it.

    But the dream of greener pastures abroad can quickly shift to nightmares once immigrants land jobs in labor-hosting countries.

    Here in the United States, the legislators and organs of government seek to create bills to manipulate the flow of immigration to create a large underclass of skilled workers that are cheap, docile, and enslaved. By restricting basic human rights against the economic desperation of migrant workers, they are assured they can revive slavery in practice the US without ever having to call it slavery.

    Filipinos in the US are certainly not exempt from this oppression. Filipinos remain the 3rd largest immigrant group in the US, with over 60,000 entering the US workforce annually.

    The historic Filipino migrant struggles lived by Carlos Bulosan and Philip Vera Cruz continue with the criminal neglect of Filipina domestic worker Fely Garcia, the mass trafficking of Filipino health workers by the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in New York, and the intensified raids and deportations of Filipino families under the auspices of Homeland Security. The inhumane raids and deportations of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement, or ICE, continue to tear Filipino parents apart from their children in the middle of the night, incarcerating Filipinos with other targetted communities as if they were convicted criminals and sometimes worse-- animals.

    These outline the reasons why more and more Filipinos must join the current fight for immigrant rights.

    Last year's passage of two such legislative bills in the Senate and House of Representatives illustrated how even after over 200 years of the United States existence as an independent nation-- according to the charters of white European settlers who migrated, wiped and destroyed the already thriving indigenous nations to whom the land originally belonged-- systemic racism, xenophobia, and slave-driven perspective of the country's elite still remains dominantly expressed in US immigration and labor laws that impact the country's workforce.

    This is not the case for the US working class and the world's immigrant workers in the US. Among these ranks are the sharpest lines that can see through the maneuvers of the anti-immigrant, anti-worker state precisely because they continuously bear the heaviest brunt of state oppression. As the rich continue to thrive and the poor working class get poorer, the passage of the two bills triggered a high show of unity as millions took to the streets for the largest mobilizations in the history of the world's so-called "melting pot".

    The defeat of HR 4437 and SB 2611 remind us all of the power of united peoples, and more importantly, united working peoples, to strike blows against this said oppressive system. As was the lessons learned from the Black Civil Rights Movement before us, movement on the streets is what will churn the vacillating positions of US legislators and bring about a true and genuine comprehensive immigration reform.

    BAYAN Philippines, as represented by its US Chapter BAYAN USA, has always championed the leadership of the working class as the vanguard of such social movements for just and lasting social changes. Even the historic criminal neglect for Filipino migrants by the US lackey Philippine government and the daily killings of anti-war and anti-globalization advocates in the Philippines, now spearheaded by the heavily-isolated and unpopular Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, cannot stop the growing movement in the Philippines and the movement of Filipino immigrants around the world for justice, democracy, and freedom from foreign domination.

    We salute the US and foreign workers making history once again with the Great American Boycott II. Let us continue to unite all peoples against the US government's war against immigrants from its own backyard.



    Filipina Nurses Speak Out Against Sentosa Recruitment Agency

    News Release
    April 30, 2007

    References: Archiel Buagas, Justice for Sentosa Nurses Campaign, email:; Rico Foz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email:

    Filipina Nurses Speak Out Against Sentosa Recruitment Agency
    May 6th Townhall Meeting Seeks Justice for Sentosa 27 and More

    New York-- More than one year past the initial filing of a class action suit for discriminatory workplace policies, 26 Filipina nurses and one physical therapist are linking up with Filipino-American community organizations across the nation to push for a campaign exposing illegal operations of the Sentosa Care LLC and its NY-based owner Bent Philipson.

    In a recent meeting with members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) at the office of the Philippine Forum in Queens, the Sentosa 27 have agreed to pursue justice by way of building national community pressure in a case they have deemed as paralyzed by corrupt politics. A public townhall meeting with the Sentosa nurses discussing their case is set for Sunday, May 6th, 2pm at the Bonifacio Hall, located in the office of the Philippine Forum in Elmhurst.

    May 6th also marks the beginning of National Nurses Week in the United States.

    According to Archiel Buagas, a former Sentosa agency nurse, the twenty-seven had signed individual employment contracts to work directly as registered nurses with various nursing home facilities affiliated with both the Sentosa Recruitment Agency based in Ortigas Center in Pasig, and with Sentosa Care, LLC, a healthcare management company based in Woodmere, NY. In a sweeping manner, the said contracts were immediately breached by Sentosa Care LLC when the health workers were made to work as agency nurses of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, dba Sentosa Services, versus as registered nurses for the nursing home facilities in their original contracts.

    The nurses also suffered lack of compensation for their long hours, had their green cards withheld, and were consistently subjected to maltreatment and abuse by the Sentosa Services. The nurses also did not receive the benefits they were promised.

    There are currently about 4000 outstanding job orders in the Philippines with Sentosa.

    "We do not seek to shatter the hopes and dreams of the thousands of nurses who seek to work abroad. We understand the conditions of poverty and joblessness in the Philippines leave us with no choice. We simply want to expose the truth and the deceit Sentosa is using to lure more of our compatriots into. We do not want others to have to suffer under these conditions," Buagas ended.

    After filing a class action suit last year against Sentosa and Philipson in Washington DC, the said suit had fallen dormant under the initial handling of the Philippine Consulate in New York. After also filing a motion with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to suspend Philipson's license to recruit from the Philippines, the said suspension was eventually lifted care of POEA administrator Rosalinda Baldoz in Manila.

    The only explanation given with the Sentosa 27 and their legal representative Felix Vinluan were so-called phone consultations between the US Senator Charles Schumer, former Philippine Presidential Chief of Staff and Senatorial Candidate Mike Defensor, Philippine Consulate General Cecilia Rebong in New York, and Baldoz that led to the shifting of positions.

    After months working under violated contracts, the 27 resigned from their posts. The collective act triggered a media whirlwind and countersuit by Philipson against the 27 on the basis of patient endangerment. Contrary to Sentosa's accusations, the 27 maintain they resigned after fully finishing their shifts, and posed no threat to the safety of the clients they were caring for as there were other nurses ready to assume their shifts watching over the patients.

    Elmer Jacinto, the Philippines' top-scorer in the nation's medical exams who opted to sign up with Sentosa as a nurse instead was among the 27 charged.

    "Sentosa is crying patient endangerment when in fact it is Sentosa that is jeopardizing quality patient care under its consistently discriminatory policies against its nurses, not to mention violation of human trafficking laws. Too much workload assigned to them without proper orientation puts more patients at risk due to high probability of committing human error and inefficiency," states Rico Foz, Executive Vice President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON.

    "But unfortunately Filipino nurses and other contract workers are forced to work under conditions such as these to support their loved ones back home. There are no jobs in the Philippines. That's why we applaud the courage of the Sentosa 27 to stand up against workplace injustice. No contract worker should have to succumb to working without respect and dignity in their host countries."

    NAFCON, a nationwide coalition of Filipino-American organizations spanning 23 US cities, has expressed it will work closely with the Sentosa 27 to help them meet their basic demands- including dropping of all criminal and civil charges against them in the State of New York, seeking compensation for all backwages including unpaid overtime wages, re-suspension of the Sentosa recruitment license by the POEA, and investigation by the State of New York on Sentosa Care LLC operations against existing anti-human trafficking law and the thirteenth amendment outlawing slavery.

    "We pledge to support the Sentosa 27 and commit our resources and facilities to this campaign for justice.
    All our members, volunteers and supporters will be mobilized to support our nurses," stated Robert Roy, Philippine Forum Executive Director and NAFCON’s National Executive Director.

    The Philippine Forum is an 11-year old community service organization and founding member of NAFCON.

    The said campaign has also confirmed support worldwide from the Alliance of Health Workers, Migrante International, BAYAN Philippines, and the Health Alliance for Democracy. Support actions are also set targeting Sentosa offices in the Philippines and in support of the nurses' families.

    The Philippine Forum is located on 54-05 Seabury Street in Elmhurst, Queens. To get to the Philippine Forum office, take the V, G and R trains to Grand Avenue/Newtown Station in Elmhurst, Queens. Exit on Southside of Queens Boulevard . Walk towards 54th Avenue and turn left on Seabury St . Take the side entrance to the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown.

    For more information on the Justice for Sentosa Nurses Campaign, email justice4sentosanurses @ or call 718.565.8862 ###