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MLK: Fighting forms of racializing consciousness and the conditions of possibility

18 Jan

Continuing from my previous MLK rant…

In addition to being anti-racist, Dr. King was also anti-imperialist and anti-poverty.  His dream wasn’t simply changing racial consciousness: our ways of seeing, thinking and feeling on race.  He sought to change the conditions of possibility for racialization.  That is, he fought against structural conditions like unemployment and the imperialist war machine.

As I see it “I have Dream” speech is a broken record appropriated by liberal/conservative ruling forces.  I think we must understand that the dream is not simply electing one President, but collectively materializing that dream to change the social structures that allows racialization to take place.

I once saw Amiri Baraka speak and he told the crowd that he met Dr. King and Malcolm X on separate occasions just days/or weeks before their assassinations.  He said that both of them in their political development were beginning to understand the importance of united front work.  That the commonalities between progressive black activists needed to be accentuated and woven together over the minor differences.  Of course that applies for everyone as well.  Moreover, this is not a denial of social differences but a call to work through contradictions of those differences.

I think we should internalize and externalize this example of anti- racism, anti-poverty, anti-imperialism towards a united front of forces against the ideology of white supremacy which is fueled by structural conditions.

A kasama sister once called these things “Systems of Whiteness”.  In my mind I disagreed with that label but at the time I did not have the right language tools to respond to her accordingly.  But now I would probably say:

“You’re right, these structures produce white supremacy.  However, I think that’s one of its code words.  You’re talking about the articulation of what I am talking about.  You’re mentioning the surface appearance, the imagined concrete conditions.  What I am talking about is the concrete conditions that are the condition of possibility of for social difference.  I’m talking about class (not status), I’m talking about capitalism.”

Grasp reality at its roots.

Happy MLK Day

ANAKBAYAN SAN DIEGO PRESENTS: “DUKOT” (desaparecidos/disappeared): A Film Screening

25 Aug

ANAKBAYAN SAN DIEGO PRESENTS: “DUKOT” (desaparecidos/disappeared): A Film Screening

Date: Saturday, September 18, 2010
Time: 6-9pm
Location: Centro Cultural De La Raza

2004 Park Blvd.

San Diego, CA

From the director of “Mano Po” and “Pacquiao the Movie” comes a landmark film for independent Philippine cinema. Dukot dares to tell the story of families who have lost their loved ones to alleged military abductions under the Gloria Macapaga Arroyo regime. Directed by Joel Lamangan. Written by Bonifacio Illagan. Starring Allen Dizon, Iza Calzado, Snooky Serna and Gina Alajar.

Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of militant activists, crusading journalists and government critics constitute one of the more disturbing phenomena in recent years in the Philippines.

Since 2001 when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president, over a thousand cases have been recorded by the human rights organization Karapatan. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, indicted the government for the “culture of impunity” now reigning in the country after completing his own research.

The Philippine government has flatly rejected responsibility and denied complicity in these heinous crimes, professing adherence to the Bill of Rights and to all international protocols on human rights.

“Dukot” could very well be the first full-length film that gives the lie to the claim.

In this horrid sojourn in search of the missing, the story of Junix and Maricel – and the seething unrest and its consequent social movement in the Philippines – unravels, giving light to true stories and actual events to victims who have been silenced.

A panel discussion will follow the film screening with special guest speakers including Dukot filmmakers and human rights activist and torture survivor Melissa Roxas.

###

For more info:

Website:

Dukot.com

DUKOT – U.S. PREMIERE TOUR Trailer:


The Awakening of Melissa R.

27 May

Blog author foreword:

The good news is that Melissa Roxas, the recent abducted Filipina American activist, has sinced surfaced and is with her family members in Manila.  Little is known on the status on her physical condition.  Roxas was abducted along with two fellow activists Juanito Carebeo and John Edward Handoc.  Though Carebeo has surfaced, Handoc is still missing.

The following is an undated email message written by Melissa Roxas published by the excellent online news magazine bulatlat

THE AWAKENING OF MELISSA R.

PUBLISHED ON May 26, 2009 AT 7:41 AM

Roxas, the Filipino-American activist who was abducted along with two others on May 19, purportedly wrote this undated email message. Bulatlat.com is reposting it because it provides a glimpse into her character and might help explain why an American like her would be spending time in the remote villages of the Philippines, trying to help the poor.

I want to share a story that particularly moved me about 14-year-old Adel. Adel was ten years old when her parents, were abducted and murdered by Philippine military soldiers. Her father, Expedito Albarillo was an active coordinator of Bayan Muna (a progressive political party list) in the town of San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental. Her mother, Manuela, was an active member of Gabriela (a progressive women’s organization) in the same town. Adel told the story of how her mother hid her so the military would not know she was in the house. She heard her mother tell the military soldier to wait until she can get changed but the soldier told her not to bother because she would be killed. She peeked from where she was hidden and saw a soldier hit her father on the leg with a gun because he refused to come with them. Adel said she watched the military drag her parents outside the house and to the nearby hills. She said she felt very afraid, terrified. Later she heard successive gunshots from the direction where her parents were brought and she went outside to go find other family members in the town. They sent a team to look for her parents and when they later found them, she said they were shocked to find the bodies in the state they were in. Her father’s left eye was gouged out with a knife and gunshot wounds were found on his armpit and side. Her mother’s neck was shattered due to a gunshot below her left eye and she had other gunshot wounds in her armpit.

After the incident Adel had to go through therapy because of the trauma. She is only one of the many children that lost their parents due to military aggression. Eden Marcellana, then secretary general of Karapatan became her second mother, as Eden was to many families who became victims of human rights violations. But because Eden was outspokenly critical of the string of human rights violations cases committed against hapless peasants, Mangyan families and leaders and members of progressive groups in Mindoro, she too became a victim of kidnapping and murder. Adel and other children lost their second mother and the area lost another dedicated human rights worker.

We visited the sites where some of the victim’s bodies were found and also saw photographs of the scene. All the delegates professed their determination to tell the whole world about what they saw because these crimes against humanity have to stop. Adel and her older brother continue the work that their parents had begun and continue to condemn the militarization of countrysides and expose the crimes of the military and Arroyo administration. Even after having lost her parents, and her friends to these heinous crimes, Adel continues to work for change in the country, continues to defend the working poor, peasants, and those who the government have let down. All of the delegates, including myself, drew so much inspiration from this 14 year old girl and we asked ourselves, for us who do not live under direct repression, what can we do? And all vowed to remain dedicated to telling these stories and put pressure on our own governments to stop support of the Arroyo regime.

Unfortunately, this story is only one of many from the island of Mindoro and throughout the Philippines. Even the ISM team from Mindoro experienced different forms of harassment from local police and military as we traveled through the area. We experienced harassment at checkpoints and were followed—we got a taste of what locals must go through everyday. Many testimonies were heard by the other four teams who visited Hacienda Luisita, Central Luzon, Samar Island in Eastern Visayas, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao.

Throughout this trip I cried many times and was deeply affected by such injustice. Also outraged that here in America, our taxpayer dollars are going to support repressive regimes like Arroyo’s. The U.S. provides financial support and training for Philippine troops. I am outraged that instead of using our hard earned tax dollars on helping the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, it goes abroad to fund wars of aggression in Iraq and the Philippines.

After this experience I began to really understand why people say that Philippines is in a current state of undeclared martial law. The Arroyo administration and the military act under a culture of impunity – immune from any punishment and immune from the rule of law that they say they are defending. Like the Marcos years (Philippine dictator until 1986), people’s civil rights are compromised and any opposition to the government is crushed – except that Arroyo is using the pretext of the “war on terror” to suppress legitimate dissent. Like what happened in Hacienda Luisita, where striking sugarcane workers and peasants were asking for better wages and benefits, were massacred by the military and local police. What justice is there for the victims? Until now they are still fighting for those benefits and until now there has been no punishment for the military and police.

Thank you for listening. At this point, I feel my responsibility is to tell as many people as possible about what I’ve seen, and as a writer write as much as I can about what I’ve seen. And most importantly take action.

I remain profoundly changed by this experienced and hope that even with these poor poets words, I can help spread awareness about these issues and tell the stories that were entrusted to me, that literally was paid for by the victims with sweat and blood.

Thank you fellow poets. Please keep in touch. I miss you all.

Much love,
Melissa R.

Point(s) of departure in US/Filipino History

21 May

Point(s) of departure in U.S./Filipino History

 

(photo of Morro Bay California)

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing the idea of the history of Filipinos in the U.S. with two friends.  The two of them (pinoy and pinay) seem to disagree with me on the issue of the point of departure for Filipino historical study.  I ruffled some feathers by stating that the arrival of Spanish Galleon (that carried Luzones Indios) in Morro Bay, California in 1587 was not a good point of historical departure.  I argued that American Colonialism was a proper place of beginning a “Filipino American History”.  Needless to say, I didn’t come off very convincing to my colleagues.  I was accused of being negative, and for putting to much concentration on numbers, and to top it off, paraphrasing what one of them said:  “elevating Americans in Fil-Am history”, instead of focusing on Filipino efforts.  I was troubled by this uncritical acceptance of history.  As if Morro Bay landing was a “Filipino effort” (they were under Spanish servitude).

It seems various online sites and Fil-Am groups (as far as my experience with them goes) privilege this event.  I have no problem mentioning it as a historical event, but to foreground it as a significant event in Filipino American History lends itself to a poltics of recognition, a strategy under the logic of liberal multiculturalism.  Privileging this event (The rationale for having Filipino American History month in October is because of this event) becomes about integration and pluralism.  Implicit in the investment in the importance of this historical event is the lack of Filipino history/culture in existing U.S. curriculum.  What is missing is a mention of why there is a lack of Filipino history and culture in the first place.  The liberal multicultural logic is one that seeks to integrate and become apart of society without addressing issues of injustice.  The history framed in this way shows that belonging precedes justice. 

I am not disregarding this historical event, it should be studied.  But it needs a proper context and presentation.  If anything, the Morro Bay landing should be mobilized into understanding the World System of the late 1500s and the complexities of Spanish Colonialism.  The approach to this event is tame and watered down.  Filipino Americans become interpellated in elevating the Morro Bay landing to the status of a migration narrative.  Interpellation is the concept put forth by the marxist Louis Althusser.  The process of interpellation is the dominant ideology producing its subject(s) by ‘hailing’ them.  In the response to being hailed or called, subjects recognize themselves in the dominant ideology.  In short, in the context of the priviliging the Morro Bay landing, Filipinos identify themselves in the dominant ideology of the U.S. Hegemonic state.

Not only does the framing of Filipino/U.S. relations lend itself to the logic of liberal multiculturalism, but it obscures the centrality of American Colonialism in Filipino/U.S. relations.  Filipinos were not migrants but were colonized subjects.  As they say, “We are here, because you were there”. 

(President Mckinnley bathing a Filipino native, “Benevolent Assimilation”)

I find it incredible that to this day even in “progressive” circles under emphasize the genocide of the Filipino American War (1899-1902, dates vary), of course they are not to blame when the much of the history is relegated to a footnote in U.S. History textbooks.  The privliging of the Morro Bay landing pales in comparison to slaugther of 1.4 million Filipinos (numbers vary, numbers not inclusive of Moro death toll). 

(dead Filipinos in a trench)

The necessity of examining American Colonialism at the turn of the century will help us to better understand the Neocolonial present.  Instead of murdering Filipinos themselves, the U.S. government relies on the corrupt Gloria Arroyo regime (responsible for 1000 political killings/abductions since 2001), its compradors and landlords, to do its dirty work in keeping the Philippine semi-feudal and within the sphere of the U.S. hegemonic bloc, for reasons of neoliberal globalization and miltary dominance in Southeast Asia and beyond. 

Geniune critique is needed in Filipino history, I say enough of the self-serving identity politics in abstract “pride”.  The 1.4 million dead haunt us, the dying and disappeared today will haunt us in the future if Filipinos shy away from a historicizing and problematizing the political and economic policies by the U.S. and Philippine governments.  Filipinos have endured just under 500 years of colonialism.  The saying goes “300 years in the convent [Spanish Colonialism], 50 in Hollywood [American Colonialism]”.  That needs to be extended to the 50 years plus of Neocolonial control.  Another reality is possible, enough of the half-stepping.

Rupert Estanislao on May 1st

4 May

SF CHRP – May 1st Statement (by Rupert Estanislao)

OFW = Overseas Filipina/o Worker

OFW = Overseas Filipina/o Worker

May 1st Press Statement
Rupert Estanislao,
SF Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

(English)
From childhood well into adulthood the bitter truth I learned is that I would never be able to grow old in the country of my origin.

I came to America at age fourteen in 1993.

My mother went ahead of the family and took up work as a dental assistant while my father was a security guard and a part time hotel manager.

In his homeland, my father was a lawyer; here he was a security guard at the courthouse.

My mother was a dentist with a practice in Metro Manila, but here her degrees and experience were dismissed and deemed inapplicable.

They kept their dignity and worked diligently no matter how meager the pay, no matter how racist or petty the boss.

Leaving for work everyday at three am and coming home past ten at night left no time to eat and sit with one another as a family.

I know their bosses took advantage of their status and they being accustomed to the corrupt system of the Philippines silently complied and turned a blind eye to the violation of their own rights.

Legal or illegal, they are still immigrants.

 

They are immigrants who left because the wealth and resources of their home were sold and auctioned during the time of martial law.

They are immigrants who left with the broken hope of having to witness the ravaging of the Philippines by U.S. military occupation.

They are immigrants and they are residents of the bay area who pay taxes to the government to help this economy thrive and prosper yet are scapegoated for society’s ills and the failure of the capitalist system.

I am one story in a million Diasporas of immigrants who leave their lands begrudgingly.

We leave because our government is overrun with the filthy rich and puppets of U.S. interest.

The root of all human rights violations is the affront of the United States to the sovereignty of the Philippines.

****************************

(Tagalog)
Mula ng ako’y musmos hanggang sa aking pagkabinata unti unti akong namulat sa katotohanan na hindi ako tatanda sa lupa kong tinunbuan.

Dumating ako sa Amerika noong 1993, katorse anyos pa lang ako.

Nauna ang aking ina at naging isang Dental Assistant, sumunod ang Tatay ko at nagdalawang trabaho siya bilang isang security guard at hotel manager para magpakain sa aming mag-ina. Abogado ang Tatay ko sa sarili niyang bansa, ngunit dito hanggang guardia lang siya sa corte. Ang Nanay ko ay isang dentista na may titulo sa aming lungsod ngunit dito hindi kinikilala ang kanyang tinapos.

Sapat ang kanilang sahod kahit masasakit ang sinabi ng amo nila, tintiiis at di nagpahalata ng galit.

Madaling araw sila umalis para unahan ang trapik.

Nakakauwi sila ng halos alas gis ng gabe.

Alam ko na pinagsasamantalahan ng mga amo ng nanay at tatay ko ang kanilang alanganin na kalagayan.

Ang nakasanayan nila na systema sa Pilipinas ay huwag umimik pag sinasaktan, huwag mag welga pag inaapi.

May papeles man o wala, sila’y migrante.

Mga migrante na umalis sa tinubuan na lupa dahil naubos ang yaman ng bansa noong panahon ng batas militar.

Migrante sila na umalis ng sawi, mga saksi sa pagsakop at paggahasa ng mga Amerikanong sondalo at militar sa bayan at sa mamayan.

Migrante sila na kabilang sa mamayan ng San Francisco bay area.

Migrante sila na nagbabayad ng buwis sa goberyno, sila ang nagpapatakbo sa ekonomiya, subalit sila ang binibintangan ng goberyno at medya kapag may mga suliranin ang lipunan.

Ang kwento ko ay hindi nagiisa, ito ang malungkot na kasaysayan ng mga migrante na sa pilit lumalakbay.

Umalis kame dahil ang mga mayayaman at ang mga tuta ang humahawak ng kapangyarihan sa aming bansa.

Ang ugat ng paglabag sa karapatan pang tao ay ang pagahasa ng Estados Unidos sa soberenya ng Pilipinas.

****************************
LEGALIZATION FOR ALL UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS!
NO TO RAIDS, DETENTIONS, AND DEPORTATIONS!
SWIFT FAMILY RE-UNIFICATION NOW! SCRAP THE IMMIGRATION BACKLOG!
IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS!
BAIL-OUT THE WORKERS, NOT THE BANKS!
SCRAP THE PHILIPPINE LABOR EXPORT PROGRAM (LEP)!
NO TO NEOLIBERAL TRADE POLICIES!