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As MLK day approaches: take inventory of snapshots

14 Jan

I am contemplating how some folks I have come across in various circles idealize MLK.  This isn’t a post about his methods.  This is about leadership and collective work.  I have met many progressive folks calling for a new MLK type of leader.

I do not think it is productive to remember our leaders this way.  In fact this cult of “the one” can be quite dangerous.  It is as if we put all our hopes and investments in the labor of another.  That axis of change twists upon one person.

What about you?  Where are you at?  What is your contribution?  I contend that most people that do idealize leaders of our past is because they probably see part of themselves in those leaders.  They see a snapshot of what they hope they can be or are capable of becoming.

I think the present and the future does not need a new King, Malcolm, Rizal, Bonifacio, Sakay, C. Chavez, Itliong, Vera Cruz, Silang, Barros, Huey, TWLF – you get the picture.  The present and the future needs you.  It needs these histories of our folk heroes and sheroes to move beyond mere historical artifacts – they cannot be mere pride pieces.

Take inventory of those snapshots of your heroes and sheroes inside of you.  Birth new thoughts.  Give it speech.  Then to action.  More importantly I think you’ll find that you will be able to share these snapshots, these principles, inside of others.

We don’t need a new MLK.  Indeed the present and future is better served with committed people who recognize, express, and act upon the traces left in us by our heroes and sheroes.  Take stock of their failures (our heroes and sheroes got em) and their victories.  I think we commemorate their work/histories better by re-materializing it in our own lives.   Do all of that collectively.

Happy MLK Weekend

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE (Remix-Response 2010)

9 Sep

“If you want to know what we are WE ARE REVOLUTION!” – Carlos Bulosan

And we still are kasama…

If you want to know what we are,

We are People Power beyond yellow shirts and U.S. sponsored dictators

and popular presidents,

the energy of beautiful short victories and the persistence in the day-to-day.

If you want to know what we are,

know the crack of tinikiling sticks, the footed dialogue with the floor,

trembling the spirits to an intentional sound that exits stage left

and reaches a new language from a bullhorn,

We are

the dreamers, dancers, lovers, artists exhausting their individuality,

B-boys becoming men, the storm of ones and twos, melodies yearning to be reawakened.

If you want to know what we are,

We are the hurt demanding release,

we are chest heaving, identity crisis bearing, and tippy toed against a vertigo fall,

running through an educational system

teaching us little

at high cost.

We are still students, sardined in your classrooms,

We carry the hazy memory, the subtext of your American History books,

The subtext that yells and screams on the way to your standardized tests.

You know us, the walking-breathing-flesh-archives of an unwanted history that incriminates you

with more blood,

the spirit that haunts your water board torture.

We are the shaky science that is enraged and tired-eyed.

If you want to know what we are,

We are hands domesticated, but not still.

We are the workers praised as modern day heroes,

but in the same breath

are the murdered, the disappeared, the illegally arrested when we labor to serve the people.

Only heroes in your eyes when we pay for the debt-foolishness,

when our work sustains your cycle.

Remember, the sister, taken, and, tortured,

her spirit is not broken

is not silenced.

She remains that deathless counterpart

untamed

and determined.

We are the voice that never died,

that is not pacified by the distance of the pacific.

We are surviving, but surviving isn’t enough.

We are Revolution, abducted into a fantasy world and sometimes abducted.

our voice co-opted, words of Hope and Change contested on auction blocks, on the presidential line.

We are the invisible blood stain on your tax dollar

We, speak, a, missing, silence,

And if so we will connect these silences

arm in arm,

language over language,

So that this silence never seems still, So that this silence never seems quiet, but waiting,

Waiting and calculating the time.

We are

Revolution,

Surface you 21st century Gabriela Silangs

Surface you young Bonifacios

Unravel that which is contained in your risen fist,

Unravel that

which is contained

in your risen fist,

a testament

dissident

song incomplete,

a song

incomplete

whose next note

shall be played by the person next to you,

and the next, next, next, next…

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.

AnakBayan-San Diego Marches in Solidarity to Demand Human Rights for All – Education, Legalization, Dignified Work

5 May

Press Statement
May 4, 2009
Reference: Ivan Penetrante: Chair, Maridel Andrada: Secretary General, AnakBayan-San Diego, email: anakbayansd@gmail.com
 
AnakBayan-San Diego Marches in Solidarity to Demand Human Rights for All – Education, Legalization, Dignified Work
 
San Diego—The San Diego chapter of AnakBayan or “Youth of the Nation,” a Filipino Youth and Student organization committed to movement for National democracy in the Philippines, marches with the May 1st Coalition of San Diego from City College to Chicano park, calling for an end to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, detentions and deportations; genuine immigration reform; and education for all.
 
Lead by a contingent of middle school youth, high school and college students, workers, documented and undocumented immigrants, the people comprised of over a dozen different organizations and affiliations commemorated International Workers’ Day by recognizing that all immigrants deserve rights as their rights are human rights.  The people united marched without fear on this one day whereas the other days many live in fear of being separated from family as a result of ICE raids, deportations and detentions while often surviving off menial jobs. 
 
Immigrants accept menial jobs overseas because in their homeland they are faced with the inability to support themselves and their families.  This is due in part to unequal political and economic relations under the system of neoliberal globalization.  Though rich in resources to sustain its people, the Philippines is one of the countries victimized by this unequal system, forcing people to flee the country.
 
More than 10 million Filipinos reside outside of the Philippines, sending home an average of $15-16 billion dollars in remittances, over half of which comes from the labor of more than four million Filipinos living in the United States.   One million remain undocumented, thus live in fear and do not experience the freedom and democracy that its politicians claim to practice. Most undocumented and exploited immigrants from all over the globe are forced to live in this American “nightmare” without looking back at the life of poverty and despair that they left behind.
 
On his 100th day in office, the masses challenged President Obama to live up to his rhetoric on the need to change the immigration system.  The inefficient backlog system in the U.S. that has Filipinos waiting as long as 10-15 years for approval of their petitions for migration via family sponsorship is one aspect that needs to be resolved in addition to the Gestapo-like raids by ICE, mass deportations and unlawful  detentions without due process.
 
As the world faces the current economic crisis, the struggles of oppressed migrant workers across the globe will intensify and shall not be overlooked as multinational corporations and big banks seek bailouts that should be dispersed among the people instead.  From this position, the only direction we should take is forward with the struggle for a just and humane immigration system free of exploitation and repression.
 
LEGALIZATION FOR ALL UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS!
END ICE RAIDS, DETENTIONS AND DEPORTATIONS!
SWIFT FAMILY RE-UNIFICATION NOW! SCRAP THE IMMIGRANT BACKLOG!
IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS!
BAIL OUT THE WORKERS, NOT THE BANKS!
 
AnakBayan-SD is a member organization of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or “New Patriotic Alliance” (BAYAN-USA), an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth.  As an international chapter of BAYAN-Philippines, it serves as an information bureau for the National Democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S.

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!