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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

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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…

Fil-Am Youth Against DepEd Violence

24 Aug
Fil-Am Youth Against DepEd Violence

August 23, 2010
Press Statement

Reference: Alex Montances, AB-LA, info@anakbayanla.org
Jessica Antonio, LFS-SFSU, lfs.sfsu@gmail.com

The
League of Filipino Students of San Francisco State University and
Anakbayan chapters of Seattle, East Bay, Los Angeles, New York/New
Jersey,and San Diego strongly condemn the violent dispersal, beatings
and mass arrest of students and youth protesting at the Philippine
Department of Education last Friday.  Over 50 youth and students, most
of them high school aged members, were arrested and violently dispersed
by the Philippine Department of Education security guards.  Five other
high school protesters Ronald Santos, Mark Gil Gamido, Raymond Ubero,
Ivan Bontorosto, and James Anajao, were also beaten by security guards
and were submitted into Rizal Medical center for their injuries.

In
it’s Vision and Mission Statement, the Philippine Department of
Education states that  “We are a people organization committed to
cultural excellence in public service.  Believing that the most
important resource of a country is its people, we make the task of
educating the Filipino child our single mission…We affirm the right
of every Filipino child especially the disadvantaged to benefit from
such a system.”

For
an organization so committed to the rights and welfare of Filipino
youth, it seems contradictory to their principles to beat and arrest
youth who were protesting illegal school fees.
Police
brutality and the suppression of free speech is not an example of
excellent public service.  Rather, it is an example of a fascist and
corrupt government that is more dedicated to silencing those who point
out corruption and injustice instead of helping its most important
resource- the Filipino people.

We
demand for there to be a full investigation as to the unnecessary
violence committed by the DepEd guards upon the youth causing them to
be sent to the hospital.  We challenge the Department of Education to
stay true to its Mission Statement making sure that education is
accessible and affordable for every Filipino child! We hold the larger
Philippine government responsible for the saddened state of education
across the nation and strongly encourage the government to reflect on
what the future holds for Filipino youth and students if education is
not an option and violence is all that they are given.

EDUCATION FOR ALL!
END POLICE BRUTALITY & ALL HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
JUSTICE FOR RONALD, MARK, IVAN, RAYMOND & JAMES!

###

Filipino American Youth Oppose Arroyo and Charter Change

10 Jul

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 9, 2009

References: Ivan Penetrante, Chairperson, Anakbayan San Diego, igpene@gmail.com Yves Nibungco, Deputy Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, yvesnibungco@gmail.com, Beverly Tang, Anakbayan Los Angeles, bev@anakbayanla.org, Sincere Born, Chairperson, Anakbayan Seattle, sincere9@gmail.com

Filipino American Youth Oppose Arroyo and Charter Change

Filipino Youth of BAYAN USA (League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University and the US chapters of Anakbayan from East Bay (EB), San Diego (SD), Seattle, Los Angeles (LA) and Anakbayan York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) declare our full opposition to the Arroyo regime and its cronies’ push towards Charter Change (Cha-Cha).

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo knows the people will hold her accountable for her crimes when her term is up in 2010.  Already standing neck deep in a track record of out-of-control rates of poverty, absence of social services, an ever-increasing list of human rights violations, and endless cases of corruption, Arroyo seeks to avoid prosecution and extend the reach of her power through Charter Change.  Under Cha-Cha, Arroyo can impose Martial law and extend her stay in office indefinitely by changing the government to a parliamentary system, thus avoiding potential prosecution.  “A dictatorship of Arroyo, whether under the guise of a parliamentary system or through declaration of martial rule, would certainly mean the death of our already ailing democracy and of our people’s dignity,” says Yves Nibungco of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey.

Charter Change will constitutionally allow the US and other foreign military forces unrestricted stay and operations in the Philippines. Already playing a puppet to US militarism, Arroyo continues to bow down to foreign business interest as well. Charter Change places Philippine national sovereignty at further economic risk.  Under Cha-cha existing economic provisions can be eliminated, enabling foreigners 100 percent ownership of lands and other property.  Foreign exploitation and plundering of natural resources will increase, causing more displacements of people and landlessness in the countryside.

Though an ocean apart, the Filipino youth of BAYAN USA understand our people should fight the Arroyo regime and her cronies in order for there to be a true democracy in the Philippines that addresses the needs of its people.  Charter Change is a slap in the face to the Filipino people and the provisions gained in the 1987 Constitution. That is why we support Kabataan Kontra Cha-Cha (a broad alliance of youth groups and student councils in the Philippines) and their call for student walkouts on July 10, 2009. We vow to do whatever it takes to prevent Arroyo from installing emergency rule and rigging next year’s elections. We are proud to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines for a better tomorrow!

BAYAN USA Youth calls upon Filipinos in the US to take a stand against Charter Change!

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.