Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New York Pinays Redefine the "Struggling Artist"

For Immediate Release

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

New York Pinays Redefine the "Struggling Artist"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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