Friday, March 28, 2008

NY-CHRP Human Rights News

RP Human Rights News (3)

1. Philippines: Justice Absent in Killings and ‘Disappearances’

2. RP human rights measures 'window-dressing'--HRW

3. Human Rights Watch: Take RP to task over killings


[News compiled by the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). NYCHRP recently facilitated a meeting between Philippine Human Rights advocate Edita Burgos and Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.]

RP human rights measures 'window-dressing'--HRW
MANILA -- Measures introduced by the Philippine government to curb human rights abuses are mere "window-dressing," an official from Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
"The list of actions touted by the Philippine government as progress unfortunately seem little more than window-dressing," said Elaine Pearson, Asia deputy director for the New York-based rights group.
Although the government has said extra-judicial killings fell sharply last year, Pearson said a "pause in political killings will mean little in the long run unless those responsible are prosecuted."
She told reporters in Manila that the government's failure to convict military men for human rights abuses will be brought up during a review of the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on April 11.
Pearson said Human Rights Watch (HRW) research showed that since 2001, there had been hundreds of cases of suspected insurgents, leftists, reporters, government critics and activists who had been murdered or had vanished, but no military man had been convicted of these crimes.
Although the government had set up a task force to investigate these incidents and had put in place measures to protect witnesses in these cases, these actions had "in fact accomplished little, and seem designed to merely deflect domestic and international criticism," Pearson added.
"Human Rights Council members should be asking the government why it hasn't taken strong action against abusive military personnel that would finally put a stop to these killings," said Pearson.
She noted that UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, following a visit to the Philippines in February 2007, said the military was in denial about the killings.
She said HRW had already submitted its findings to the council in Geneva and they would be taken up at the review session next month.
"The Philippines is among the first countries up for the universal periodic review, and as such it will be a test for the Human Rights Council," said Pearson.
She said the United Nations would not seek sanctions against any of the countries concerned but said the session "would help focus attention on the serious concern on the human rights problem in the Philippines."
"We hope to apply peer pressure on the Philippines," she said.##
Philippines: Justice Absent in Killings and ‘Disappearances’
Government Under Review at UN Human Rights Council
(Manila, March 27, 2008) – The United Nations should carefully review the Philippine government’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for killings and “disappearances,” Human Rights Watch said today. The first-ever Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council takes place in Geneva on April 11, 2008.

Killings and enforced disappearances
Since 2001, hundreds of members of left-wing political parties, activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or “disappeared.” The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, Philippine human rights groups, and Human Rights Watch all found strong evidence of military involvement in many of these cases.

In its submission to the UN Human Rights Council, the Philippine government claims that it places a priority on “addressing this most urgent concern [extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances], by bringing perpetrators to justice and preventing such killings in the future. The government reported that the number of killings had dropped significantly in 2007.

“A pause in political killings will mean little in the long run unless those responsible are prosecuted,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Of the hundreds of political killings since 2001, not a single military official has been convicted.”

Human Rights Watch said that while any reduction in human rights violations is to be welcomed, the government has yet to adopt institutional changes that would address the long-term problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country. The government has failed to successfully prosecute members of the security forces for serious abuses. Since 2001, only two cases of killings of activists resulted in convictions of four defendants, none of whom were military personnel. And because enforced disappearances are a continuing offense, the government remains responsible for those “disappeared” until their fate or whereabouts becomes known.

A new UN mechanism
Scrutiny of the Philippines is part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a new UN mechanism used in assessing the human rights record of all United Nations member states. The Philippine government and nongovernmental organizations have made written submissions to the Human Rights Council. On April 11, in Geneva, member states will examine the human rights situation in the Philippines in a three-hour open session that will also be streamed live on the web. This is the first time the Philippine government has undergone such review, which will happen every four years.

Police, prosecution, and witness protection
In its submission, the Philippine government lists a number of specific measures it has taken to address extrajudicial killings, including implementing the findings of the government Melo commission report and Task Force Usig (Task Force Prosecution), better coordination between police, prosecution and other agencies, strengthening laws on witness protection, and new human rights offices within the armed forces and the national police.

Human Rights Watch’s research found that the speedy introduction of these measures in 2007 has in fact accomplished little, and seem designed to merely deflect domestic and international criticism. Contrary to government claims of having implemented the Melo commission report’s recommendations, the government has not followed up on the report’s finding of military responsibility for killings. And, while the government claims that 80 cases have been filed with police through the Task Force Usig, many lack crucial evidence, such as the names of the accused and other basic information necessary for prosecutors. The principle of command responsibility has yet to be applied in a single case.

Witness protection and coordination between prosecutors and police remain weak. The human rights offices of the police and the army seem more engaged in advocacy against government critics and “leftist propaganda” than in supporting concrete investigations of alleged abuses.

“The list of actions touted by the Philippine government as progress unfortunately seem little more than ‘window-dressing,’” said Pearson. “Human Rights Council members should be asking the government why it hasn’t taken strong action against abusive military personnel that would finally put a stop to these killings.”

Writ of amparo
The Supreme Court’s new procedure of the writ of amparo – a habeas corpus-like procedure in which state agencies are compelled to reveal to the court the whereabouts of named persons, disclose documentary evidence or allow court-authorized searches of premises – has shown some success in “resurfacing” more than half-a-dozen people. But some 100 cases remain pending, including that of Jonas Burgos, an agricultural activist who was abducted by alleged security forces in broad daylight in an urban mall in April 2007. While an important safeguard against government abuse, the writ of amparo is no substitute for prosecuting perpetrators of arbitrary arrest and detention.

Visit by UN expert on extrajudicial killings
In its UPR submission, the government claims that “as a concrete manifestation of the Philippines’ willingness to cooperate with the international human rights system,” it invited UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston in February 2007. The government has chosen to quote only positive selections from Alston’s report, omitting, for example, his finding that the military remained in denial about the killings, and has not rejected earlier government attacks on the report, such as the high-ranking military officer who called the UN rapporteur “brainwashed.”

“It is absurd for the Philippine government to let its generals call a UN expert names and then claim his visit signifies its willingness to cooperate,” Pearson said. “Its cooperation is best measured through its willingness to adopt Alston’s recommendations.”

Continued targeting of alleged communists
The government’s UPR submission notes that the Philippines repealed the anti-subversion law and decriminalized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Although membership in the CPP has been legal since 1992, high-ranking military and police officers have repeatedly made statements to Human Rights Watch that imply that membership is illegal and which conflate the CPP with its armed wing, the New People’s Army. Some officers have also publicly suggested that members of certain nongovernmental organizations are valid targets of attack because of their alleged association or sympathy with the CPP or the New People’s Army.

Counterterrorism law
Human Rights Watch also expressed concerns that the 2007 anti-terrorism law, the Human Security Act, contained provisions that could allow authorities to hold detainees indefinitely, and engage in spurious prosecutions. The UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism called for the law to be repealed or its implementation to be delayed.

“The Philippines is among the first countries up for the Universal Periodic Review, and as such it will be a test for the Human Rights Council,” said Pearson. “If the Philippines is the rights-respecting nation it claims to be, then why, when ample evidence implicates the military in abuses, are no members of the military being tried for these crimes?”


Human Rights Watch: Take RP to task over killings

MANILA, Philippines - A human rights group urged the United Nations on Thursday to take the Philippines to task for failing to prosecute soldiers suspected of involvement in a string of extrajudicial killings.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Philippines has done little to implement recommendations made last year by Philip Alston, the UN special envoy on extrajudicial killings, as well as the government's own fact-finding commission.

Both have linked soldiers to hundreds of deaths and disappearances of mostly left-wing activists belonging to political organizations that the military brands as fronts for communist rebels.

"The list of actions touted by the Philippine government as progress unfortunately seems little more than 'window-dressing,'" said Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch's deputy director for Asia.

She told reporters that the actions seemed "designed to merely deflect ... criticism."

Philippine officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council will hold its first Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines' human rights record April 11, during which council members can question government representatives in a public session.

All governments are subjects to the review.

Pearson said the Philippines has reported to the council that the number of killings dropped significantly in 2007.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo told foreign diplomats in January that seven activists and journalists were killed last year, compared to 41 in 2006.

The left-wing human rights group Karapatan also reported considerably fewer activists were killed or abducted last year, but gave higher figures of 68 activists slain and 26 missing, down from 185 dead and 93 missing in 2006.

Karapatan head Marie Hilao Enriquez said in a December report that the drop can be attributed to pressure from the diplomatic community and human rights groups.

The report said 887 left-wing activists and their supporters have been killed and another 185 have disappeared since Arroyo took office in 2001.

The government said it has strengthened witness protection laws, but can do little to force people to testify if they fear retribution. Without witnesses, no prosecution can move forward, it said.

Pearson said the group's research found the government measures have accomplished little.

She said perpetrators must be prosecuted and institutional changes put in place.

In the killings since Arroyo came to office in 2001, "not a single military official has been convicted," Pearson said.

She also expressed concern that some ranking military and police officers have publicly suggested that members of activist organizations are valid targets because of their alleged association with communist rebels. - AP

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why not CALAMITY?!

This woman is another amazing ally to FiRE! Representing Shaolin (Staten Island in the house!) She makes this year's DIWANG PINAY line-up even better!

Corinne Manabat aka Calamity is an aspiring documentary filmmaker by day, and spoken word artist/lyricist by night. She has performed at a few NY venues such as Guerrilla Words Open Mic and Sulu Series, and at various college events including FIND D4 Barrio Fiesta. This native Staten Islander has always had a love for hip-hop and loves to breakdance. Always down for the good fight, she is also involved with several social justice organizations. She won the 2005 ImaginAsian TV's PSA Contest for APA (Asian-Pacific-American) Heritage Month with her spoken word montage "Proud and Free," dedicated to her deceased Lolo (grandfather). In May 2008, she will be finishing up "Excuse My Gangsta Ways," a documentary short about a Chinese-American woman who is a former gang member from the 1990s Lower East Side. For more info, check out:


An amazing kasama and organizer in our sibling organization, AnakBayan NY-NJ! We can't wait til you hear her gorgeous voice, and see her in all her fierceness onstage! Please welcome our homegirl of many names, Cling!

Anne Beryl Corotan
also known as Taospuso; Cling, is a noble descendant and the international advocate for the Mandayan tribe of the Philippines and the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. She is the present Philippine Fiesta trader's ambassador. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, with a Bachelor's in Health Science, Public Health and Theatre Arts with a minor in International Studies in 2006 and a Bachelor's of Nursing in 2007. Presently, she is the east coast director of SANDIWA, the National Filipino American Youth. Concurrently, she is the National Director of the cultural and indigenous sector of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. She is the former district III chair of FIND in 2006 and was also the district's Miss Philippines in 2005. Regardless, she remains a humble servant selflessly devoting her life in advocacy for the youth, the indigenous people and the local community of Filipinos especially within the walls of the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center, a project of Philippine forum. She shares the stories of the community through her proficiency in the field of arts, academe and community health. Taospuso is a revolutionary artist who embodies the courage and humility of a Filipina, living as a herald of Christ and a vanguard of transformation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March Educational Discussion--IBAGSAK!!

To welcome Spring, we gathered at Val's house to discuss "Women, Migration and Globalization". We learned so much from our discussion and connected our Filipino American issues to the struggles of women all the way in the Philippines and globally. On the eve of Val's b-day, FiRE sisters once again redefined the meaning of FREEDOM SCHOOL!

Onward with FiRE Educational Discussion Series!

Thanks for coming alls of you:
Macky (first one to get here and last one to leave!)
Lynda (organic lemonade and cookies!)
Jennine (come to Diwang Pinay please!!)
Jackie (umm, you know what.)
Julie (for making time!)
Hanalei (for making it at 6 instead of 8!)
Cris (her first FiRE appearance!)
Sharon (Welcome Welcome!)

and to the Bay Area sisters:
Heather, Mel and Jay!!

and our hosts: Raul and Val!!

If you want to check out the next ED, please email Kimmie at

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please help us distribute this flyer far and wide!

Diwang Pinay 2008: Rise, Woman, RISE!
Saturday, April 19, 2008 doors open @ 7 pm
Judson Memorial Church
(bet. Thompson and Sullivan Streets)
55 Washington Square South, NYC, NY 10012
ALL AGES WELCOME! $5 for Youth (18 and under)/ $10 Regular
Child Care Available! Please inquire: (925) 726-5768

M. Josephine
Fly Lady Di
DJ Vettie Vette
Tao's Puso
...and many more
check for frequent updates!

Diwang Pinay ("Spirit of the Filipina") is an annual performance and silent auction in New York City showcasing Filipina/ Filipina-American performers, writers, and visual artists. Diwang Pinay promotes the work of Pinay artists everywhere AND represents the expanding cultural backbone of the Filipina diaspora. This FiRE event is one of the few venues solely dedicated to providing Filipinas and Filipina-Americans a platform to display their triumphs and struggles through art, linking history to the narrative of today's Filipina.

April 19, 2008 will mark the first of the annual Diwang Pinay series, and in 2008, calls attention to the human rights violations that run rampant in the Philippines. The toll of women community leaders who are murdered or disappear continue to rise, which has prompted FiRE to create this artistic venue featuring singer/songwriters, performers, and visual artists in order to draw attention to the hostile climate which women organizers face today, and the culture of resistance that triumphantly surfaces during these times.

Please join the women of FiRE for a night of PINAY artists showcasing their talents, and stay a little bit longer to celebrate ONE YEAR of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment organizing in the New York City area!

Silent Auction: DIWANG PINAY

Please stay tuned for details on the amazing work we'll have up for auction on April 19. Artists from around the nation have donated work to Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment. This event is a great opportunity for you to purchase original art work (all made by Pinays) at very low prices! All money from the Silent Auction will go toward FiRE's programming, so save your allowance and payday splurges, folks, as it's cash only to some great causes! :)

ps: and yes, we WILL have the piece pictured above. More details later. Yet ANOTHER slow reveal for you!

Binky*Bianca all up in here!

DIWANG PINAY just can't wait for this band to handle the night! A fantastic performance and an incredible set of musicians, yet another lovely addition to the line-up on April 19th at Judson Memorial Church:

Binky*Bianca has rocked, shocked, and amused audiences all over the nation; from New York City, Chicago, to becoming the next internet phenomenon! In the last year, the band has pushed their tasty lyrical madness resulting in features at Five Points NYC, Jammin Asian, CBGBs, and the Rock In The Box 2 Fil-Am Compilation Album. The band evolved from singer songwriter Binky Veloria's solo artist career, but has since taken the New York City scene by storm with foot stomping fun refrains, and witty sharp-edged lyrics. Binky*Bianca is known for their brand of musical heartbreak often described as "Cute-with-Spunk Rock," winning their audiences over in perfect irregular time and tempo! Catch Binky*Bianca at their next gig, because they are an experience!

Don't forget to look for their free album to be given out at gigs and also to be available for free download in late 2008! For more information, please visit,!

Alfie Ebojo!

Alfie Ebojo (aka alfie numeric) became a modern day
urban warrior-- a hunter and gatherer. She now works
as an artist aka your typical Jill-of-all-Trades:
graphic designer/illustrator/visual artist, writer,
producer, performer (theater and live painting),
teacher and organizer/activist while holding down a
day job that allows her to daydream.

You can sample her graphic design and visual art
skills at her personal website, and

Alfie's style is best described as underground
urban. Much of her influences come from the Los
Angeles culture buzzing around her- hip hop, the
Pilipino Family dynamics, graphic and fashion design,
city life, the diverse multi-cultural population,
60's-70's cartoons, anime, mythology, culture from
different countries, and Frida Kahlo.

Alfie's current series focuses on keeping the belief
of love alive, in all its forms, levels and

Description of submitted work:
Part of the Branching Out Series, "Out on the Limb for
You"- mixed media of oil and acrylics on 8"x10"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

FiRE loves you come rain, or come shine...

Fabulous documentation by JD Generoso --- a warm thank you to him!

The music was beautiful, the art - fantastic, and the love and support were astounding! Despite the weather, a lovely fifty friends of FiRE made it to White Rabbit throughout the night. Thank you very much for braving the storm in your galoshes, and showing your support! Because of you, we are thismuch closer to making DIWANG PINAY and several other FiRE programs a reality! And don't fret, we will see you again in a similar setting via the APRIL 19th afterparty at Katra Lounge post-DIWANG PINAY. So, we can't wait to run into you again!

Extended thank yous to the following folks:
Sara J.
DJ Sabine
Fly Lady Di
the wonderful folks at White Rabbit
and everyone who came through last night...

If you haven't already, please subscribe to our listserv by emailing us at with "ADD" in the subject or body of your email!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More FIND workshop pix!

All of these photos are care of Chris Cabrera; thank you for the fantastic documentation! :) More of his albums on our facebook group:

Thank you, FIND!

Hello, new friends of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment!

It was fantastic to have met you this past weekend at UMCP's FIND Conference! We had a great time talking with you at the table, or coming across you at our "A New Pinayism" workshop. There was so much intriguing discussion, that we were pretty salty our time together was cut short! However, we'd love for you to keep in touch, so please don't forget to bookmark/friend us on the following sites:

If you are in the NYC area this April 19th, please check out our amazing ALL-FILIPINA showcase, DIWANG PINAY( where we will celebrate one year of serving our community! And if you can't make that, we're throwing a fundraiser tomorrow night in the LES! (Details below!) More importantly, we are excited that some of you have expressed interest of working with FiRE in the future; here are some ways we can make that happen:

- For a small honorarium, FiRE has a list of workshops and various keynote themes available to present at your school, conference, festival, or event! Some topics include: Filipina HERstories (Pinay History); NOW: Current Issues Faced by Pinays in the Philippines and Overseas; Pinayism: A Legacy of Resistance; and many more! Please note that these can also be converted to accommodate high school aged youth, email Hanalei -

- We would be more than happy to co-cponsor an event around Filipina, and women-centered issues! Also, if you are throwing a benefit and are looking for an organization to which you can contribute, contact us, and we'd be more than happy incorporate your donation into our programming!

- The women of FiRE range from students, emcees, visual artists, spoken word artists, and a myriad of other artistic talent. Please inquire if you have an upcoming women-themed or Filipino-themed event, and we'd be more than happy to help you find what you need!

While we are an NYC/NJ based organization, we'd be more than happy to travel to accommodate your group! Thanks for taking the time to read this, as your support is valuable to us as a very young organization. We can't wait to hear from you, and hope we make it out to you event or school sometime soon! :)

Hanalei Ramos
Organizational Development Director,
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment --- FiRE NYC


The Unofficially Official SIKE! Pre-party! --- Hosted by the women of FIRE
Wednesday, March 19 7p - Midnight
@ WHITE RABBIT - 145 Houston Street (between Forsyth & Eldridge)
21+ $5 Suggested, with drink special 7p on

Featuring DJ SABINE and live art by FLY LADY DI!

As we countdown to DIWANG PINAY, we're throwing an Afrobeat.House.Soul party for good measure! Come spend the night with the fabulous DJ Sabine and Fly Lady Di at our bar of choice: WHITE RABBIT! If you're interested in learning more about our organization, or if you just want to check out the live art, great music, and after work drink specials, this would be your chance!!! Thank you to Sara Jimenez, DJ Sabine, and Fly Lady Di for all their support and planning! All proceeds will go toward Diwang Pinay and other FiRE programs.

DIWANG PINAY 2008: Rise, Woman, RISE!
Saturday, April 19, 2008 @ 7 pm
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South

NYC, NY 10012
***Take the subway to West 4th then, walk east along West 4th Street, toward Washington Square Park.

Pinays you know and love!
Hosted by Isis
DJ VettieVet the whole night!

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment will celebrate its first anniversary! Please join the women of FiRE for a showcase and silent auction of Pinay artists!

Diwang Pinay ("Spirit of the Filipina") is an annual performance and silent auction in New York City showcasing Filipina/ Filipina-American performers, writers, and visual artists. Diwang Pinay promotes the work of Pinay artists everywhere AND represent the expanding cultural backbone of the Filipina diaspora. This FiRE event is one of the few venues solely dedicated to providing Filipinas and Filipina-Americans a platform to display their triumphs and struggles through art, linking history to the narrative of today's Filipina.

April 19, 2008 will mark the first of the annual Diwang Pinay series, and in 2008, calls attention to the human rights violations that run rampant in the Philippines. The toll of women community leaders who are murdered or disappear continue to rise, which has prompted FiRE to create this artistic venue featuring singer/songwriters, performers, and visual artists in order to draw attention to the hostile climate which women organizers face today, and the culture of resistance that triumphantly surfaces during these times.

Performance slots and artist auction submissions are still open until March 15! Please contact Hanalei at . For more information, please visit us at !

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Worst is yet to come for the Arroyo regime

Worst is yet to come for the Arroyo regime

Press statement
13 March 2008
Reference: Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Chairperson

Contrary to the statement of national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, the worst is yet to come for the embattled Arroyo regime. The worsening economic hardship, intensifying repression, and persistent corruption allegations will continue to feed social unrest and fan political instability.

Gonzales declared Wednesday that the “worst of the political crisis is over” and Mrs. Gloria Arroyo has survived the $329-million broadband corruption scandal.

Gonzales ignored the impact of deteriorating poverty on the hold to power of Arroyo. The latest official poverty incidence report disclosed that between 2003 and 2006, more than one million Filipinos are added every year to the number of poor or three million for three years. This further undermines the ability of Arroyo to govern as an increasing number of people feel that the government is not addressing their economic concerns. This will enhance the isolation of the Arroyo regime from the people.

Trends indicate that the worsening economic hardship will persist in the coming months. Unprecedented oil price increases, almost simultaneous hikes in the prices of basic food items and in water and power rates will continue to erode wages and income. Ordinary families could barely afford even half of the cost of living while more than 10.8 million people are either jobless or underemployed. At the global level, the looming US recession has yet to take its full impact on the local economy. But once it does, expect a serious production slowdown that could mean higher unemployment and poverty.

There are also no signs that Arroyo will depart from her current pro-market and anti-people economic policies. She could not afford, for example, to let go of the regressive value added tax (VAT). While the VAT contributes to high prices of basic goods and services, it is also the most reliable source of revenues for the bankrupt regime.

On the other hand, the repression of the Arroyo regime of legitimate protests for economic and political reforms is becoming more vicious. The brutal dispersal of protesting workers in front of the Labor department on March 6 shows the readiness of the regime to use more violence to preserve itself. But this only fuels the people’s outrage and determination to fight for justice and reforms.

Meanwhile, the public perception that corruption under the Arroyo regime is chronic remains pervasive and will continue to hound Arroyo. A Pulse Asia survey in October 2007 shows that Arroyo is perceived by most Filipinos to be the most corrupt president. This has been confirmed by a recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) that ranked the Philippines as the most corrupt country in Asia.

The combination of worsening poverty, increasing repression, and continuing efforts to cover up corruption provides the condition for the lingering unrest and more protests.

The people will not remain passive amid the current political turmoil. They will take action once they realize that their plight is being aggravated by the wrong economic policies, repression, and corruption of the Arroyo regime. This will further strengthen the growing movement calling for a change in the national leadership and for meaningful political and economic reforms.

Gonzales and the entire Arroyo clique should not take comfort in the coming long holiday break. It could be the proverbial “calm before the storm”.###

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Our March Brunch!

The past weekend was chock full of goodies and fun!

FiRE continued our International Women's Day celebration with our favorites monthly Pinay Brunch!

Thanks to Grill 21 for giving us a good down home -silog in Manhattan!

Some of the sisters that shared the Filipino breakfast love not pictured here are: Jill and Laurel!

Monday, March 10, 2008

FilAm Women March in Large International Contingent in New York

March 9, 2008

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairwoman, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE),,

FilAm Women March in Large International Contingent in New York

New York, NY--Not even the heavy rainstorm could stop, Filipino American women from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) from marching and chanting in the streets of downtown, Manhattan on March 8, 2008, International Women's Day. Alongside 300 people and various New York women's organizations, the soaked marchers kept their spirits up and their voices to the sky.

"Women all over the world are celebrating resistance on International Women's Day," stated Valerie Francisco, chair of FiRE, "Filipino women, especially, have much to be proud of." In New York, FiRE celebrated by participating in the women's festival at CUNY Hunter College and as a part of the International Women's Day Coalition in New York.

As member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the Filipino contingent in New York carried placards calling for the Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to step down from office. Accounts of corruption coming from Malacanang have been unfolding the past few weeks, pointing to the president's acquiescence in deals that put millions and millions of dollars in the pockets of politicians.

In the meantime, Filipino women across the globe are facing critical issues. The Filipino woman in Japan raped by US marines in Okinawa is still awaiting justice. Neither GMA nor the US government has issued apologies. The trial for this Filipino woman has been prolonged as the Philippine government awaits for the US' lead on this case.

Although, no governmental bodies have sought justice for her, streets in Okinawa, Manila and New York were filled with outraged Filipino activists demanding justice. The women rallying side by side with the Filipino woman in Okinawa and Nicole and the countless others victimized by US militarization are the ones calling for change.

"A woman president is only as good as what her puppeteer will allow her to be," Francisco continued, "The real women's power, the real international women's power is in the everyday woman. We will organize and mobilize until our demands are met and our collective voices are heard!"

GABRIELA is spearheading a global women's movement, FiRE in New York along with Pinay Sa Seattle and babae in San Francisco are harnessing power from US-based Filipino women to strengthen an international struggle.

With their umbrellas painted with "OUST GMA" and their rain boots in tow, FiRE is leaving a trail blazed with solidarity. Even a little rain couldn't stop them.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

WED: 03/19 The Unofficially Official SIKE! Pre-party!

As we countdown to DIWANG PINAY, we're throwing in one more party for good measure! Come spend the night with a great DJ and live art at our bar of choice: WHITE RABBIT! What more can you ask for? Come dance and make merry with the women of FiRE! If you're interested in getting to know more about our organization, or if you just want to take silly facebook pictures with us, this would be a prime opportunity! All proceeds will go toward Diwang Pinay and other FiRE programs. See you there! <3 style="font-weight: bold;">
The Unofficially Official SIKE! Pre-party!
Hosted by FIRE
Wednesday, March 19 7p - Midnight
$5 Suggested, with drink special 7p on!
145 Houston Street (between Forsyth & Eldridge)

With DJ SABINE and live art by FLY LADY DI!

Thank you to Sara Jimenez, DJ Sabine, and Fly Lady Di for all their support and planning!

IWD 2008!

Thank you to all our coalition members and kasamas from AnakBayan, Philippine Forum, and NY Committee for Human Rights for supporting us at the International Women's Day mobilization! Press release to follow! :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 8th – Overseas Filipinas Rally and March as GABRIELA-USA

Press Release
March 6, 2008

Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA National Organizing Committee Coordinator, (641) 715-3900

March 8th – Overseas Filipinas Rally and March as GABRIELA-USA,
Extending the Philippine Women's Movement Internationally

On March 8, 2008, Filipino women in the United States will proclaim the formalization of a GABRIELA-USA Chapter, the first international overseas chapter of the Philippine-based women's organization GABRIELA, through nationally-coordinated protest actions celebrating
women's resistance and calling for the ouster of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

GABRIELA, the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action, was first established in 1984 by 42 women's organizations in the Philippines uniting against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. In November of 2007, Pinay sa Seattle, babae in
San Francisco and FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New York planted the seeds for a USA-based GABRIELA. Subsequently, GABRIELA has committed to expanding our work in the US by providing organizing around the conditions of Filipinas in the USA.

In the seven years that the US-backed Arroyo has been President in the Philippines, she has worsened the economic conditions of the Filipino people and especially women. Her stark human rights violations record, subservience to US imperialism and militarization has
materialized in the murder of Filipino women and children in the hand of US troops supposedly training the Philippine military in Balikatan exercises. Arroyo has also stood silent on the increasing numbers of Filipino women raped by US military troops in the Philippines, and
recently in Japan.

The corruption of President Arroyo has been exposed through the NBN-ZTE scandal and the Filipino people are expressing their intolerance. We are uniting across continents and oceans to call for a new brand of people power. The intensifying political climate in the Philippines calls for genuine social change, an ouster of a decrepit president and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

GABRIELA-USA will rally to this call. As migrant women, we recognizethat the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers are women. The worsening economic and political crisis of the Philippines pushes Filipino women out only to be subjected to exploitation, human
trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, torture and even death. We recognize our place is in the struggle to oust a puppet president and we will mobilize around our responsibility to the Filipino people.

During these times of heightened political crisis in the Philippines the women of Pinay sa Seattle, babae San Francisco and FiRE New York, all members of GABRIELA-USA, will continue to carry out the vigilant task of intensifying the people's resistance against a tyrannical and immoral government. GABRIELA-USA stands behind all working women and Filipino progressives to expose the truth and call for Arroyo's ouster from presidency.

On this March 8, we call on all peace loving people, advocates for human rights, and women's organizations to stand in solidarity with GABRIELA and its newly formed USA-based chapter by joining us in the following mobilizations:

New York:
A Salute to Women's Resistance
Union Square

Women Hold Up Half the Sky
Cultural Performances and Speakers
Jose Rizal Park

San Francisco:
For Our Sisters, We Must RESIST
San Francisco Dewey Monument
Union Square Plaza at Stockton and Powell

Women unite!
Struggle against oppression and exploitation!
Fight the Arroyo regime's corruption and tyranny!
Oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Long Live International Working Women's Day!
Long Live International Solidarity!


Next up: live art at Diwang Pinay!

Fly Lady Di has got to be the most enthusiastic Pinay FiRE's come across in the call for artists! As soon as she offered to do some live art for Diwang Pinay, how could we refuse?! She's an amazing woman, and this one time Miss Manila Runner-up (TRUE STORY!) can be described best via this FAQ, answered by the artist herself:

How would you describe your style?
A cross between cubism, graffiti, art nouveau, and art deco. A sort of Brooklyn Renaissance.

What inspires your work?
Sometimes painting is all I have to express myself (beside dance.) My paintings are songs I can't sing and poems I can't write down. A lot of times, pain drives one to create. Many of my pieces were created out of this. New work inspirer me a lot.

How long does it take you to finish a painting?
It all depends. Some of them have taken weeks, some several months to complete. The journey within the painting is as fascinating as the painting itself, in my opinion. I try to stay patient, because I am a meticulous painter and it takes me a while sometimes to "perfect" and render the way I want (with clean and bold lines.)

Did you go to art school?
I like to say I'm "self-taught," but my Father taught me everything I know about art before I learned it in school. He used to discourage me from art, because he gave up as an artist. But he is probably my biggest supporter now because he sees what I am doing with it.

What are your goals as an artist?
I just really want to perpetuate the tradition of painting. I want to be the next answer to female painters in art history. I want to be a rock-star painter, kind of like a kat von d, but with painting. It is through my live painting performances and art shows that I want to fuse my gift of painting with entertainment as well.

Thank you, CUNY HUNTER!

FiRE would like to thank CUNY Hunter's Women's Studies Dept. for the opportunity to table at the IWD event yesterday. Particular thank yous to Maria for the invite, and Wali and Camille for the extra hands at the table! We had a great time meeting all of you who stopped by the table, and look forward to seeing you at FIND and DIWANG PINAY!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

our postcards have arrived!

Thank you to Samantha Smith for doing an incredible job with ALL the DIWANG PINAY logos! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Greetings friends and allies!
March with us to celebrate a women's resistance and a growing global movement for justice, and of course...with your friendly FiRE sisters at the front!

International Women's Day
A Salute to Women's Resistance

:: Saturday :: March 8, 2008 ::

Rally at 12noon
Union Square, 14th St and Broadway

FiRE will be gathering our contingent at the corner of 14th St and University Place
LOOK FOR THE PHILIPPINE FLAG and you'll find us!

March at 1pm to 330p
Ending Ceremony at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Memorial
Site of 1911 factory massacre where 146 young women workers perished
Corner of Washington Square Park & Greene St

FiRE is proud to be a part of the International Women's Day 2008 Coalition sponsoring this event!

On March 8th, women all over the world will honor International Women's Day. In the Philippines, the US puppet president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has done nothing to improve Filipino women's conditions in the Philippines and in the diaspora. The height of her political corruption has pushed thousands of Filipinos to call for her ouster. On March 8, FiRE joins the international demand to OUST GMA! We're getting FiREd up!

IBON: Corruption scandals under Arroyo cost Filipinos P7.3B

IBON: Corruption scandals under Arroyo cost Filipinos P7.3B
03/04/2008 | 03:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Corruption scandals in the last seven years under the Arroyo administration have cost Filipinos at least P7.3 billion, according to militant think tank IBON Foundation Tuesday.

In a statement, IBON said with six corruption scandals so far, including the $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has become the most corrupt president the country has ever had.

"President Gloria Arroyo may indeed be the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office," the Ibon statement read.

Other scandals under the Arroyo administration were the P728-million fertilizer scam, the Jose Pidal bank accounts, the Northrail project, the $14-million IMPSA power plant project, the P1.3-billion poll automation project, and the Macapagal Boulevard project.

IBON said the amount could have been used to provide badly-needed education and health services to millions of impoverished Filipinos.

"For example, it could have been used to help the Department of Education (DepEd) bridge its resource gaps of classrooms, textbooks and teachers," it said.

Citing DepEd figures, IBON said the DepEd's 2008 budget is still P8.43 billion short to bridge its resource gaps for the year.

On the other hand, it said the amount could also have been used to increase subsidies for indigent patients in government hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital.

"These cases also indicate the Arroyo administration's high tolerance for corruption, since none of them has ever been satisfactorily resolved. In fact, the Ombudsman only filed graft and corruption charges against former Justice Secretary Hernando Perez in January 2007 or six years after the charges were made public," it noted.

Perez allegedly received a $2-million bribe so that the Department of Justice would give the go-ahead for a $470-million contract to IMPSA for rehabilitation of the CBK hydroelectric plant in Laguna.

"Clearly, corruption is inherent in a liberalized backward economy and has greatly benefited the Arroyo administration for the past seven years, while it continues to worsen the incidence of poverty and deny much-needed social services to millions of Filipinos," IBON said. - GMANews.TV

Oust GMA Coverage NYC and SF!

A huge thank you to Balitang America for covering these rallies and protests!