In Honor of International Womyn’s Month

FilAm Women Remember Rebelyn

On Rebelyn Pitao’s 21st birthday, GABRIELA-USA remembered the life of the slain daughter of a New People’s Army commander, Leoncio Pita known popularly as Commander Parago. The abduction and murder of Rebelyn by armed men is characteristic of past executions linked to the Philippine government and the military.

With so much of Philippine politics swirling around the maltreatment and downright abuse of Filipino women and their rights (namely the controversial Nicole case and the Visiting Forces Agreement), FilAm women are moved to look to Rebelyn’s life as a teacher, daughter, woman and friend to claim her life as evidence of a guilty and corrupt administration only looking to silence its people.

“Rebelyn, among so many other Filipino women, was unnecessarily taken by a fear mongering government in the name of insecurity,” Melanie Dulfo the poet who wrote the below poems in Tagalog and English on behalf of GABRIELA-USA, “In the endlessly rotten administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it’s the ordinary people that get hurt. But we will not forget their lives and remember them in our art and work even across the oceans.”

*trapo= a dirty rag; in colloquial use, a traditional politician,


Baka nagkamali sila.
Inisip na, komo,
Sintinig ang pangalan mo
Ng kinatatakutang uri
Sa lipunan nating lubog
Sa dumi at basura
(Ni ‘di malinis ng mga
Sandaan trapong nagkalat)
Eh, dapat ka nang paslangin.

Nabulag kaya sila?
Inakalang banta ka
Sa buhay nila,
Ikaw na babae,
Ikaw na guro,
Ikaw na biente anyos pa lamang?
Kaya ka ba nila pinaslang, Rebelyn?
Kaya ka ba nila pinahirap
Kasi akalang armas ang lapis mo?

Rebelde ka,
Anong klase,
Kung ganun?
Ikaw ba ang
Ibinuhos ang dugo
At buhay
Para patalsikin
Ang mga Kastila,
Ang mga Amerikano,
Ang mga Hapon,
Si Marcos, at
Si Erap?

Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng
Napagod lang
Sa kalokohang ipinamumukha
Sa sambayanan?
Iyung tipo na
Hindi tatahimik,
Na hihiyaw,
Sa pagnanakaw ng mga
Panginoong maylupa,
Ng mga korporasyong
Nagmula sa ibayong dagat?

Ikaw ba ang rebeldeng
Nagsabi na,
“May ibang paraan
Para mabuhay.
May ibang klaseng buhay.
Hindi lamang ang paghihirap
At pagdurusa
Ng tumataas na tuition,
Tumataas na bilihin,
Tumataas na pamasahe,
Ngunit walang taas
Ng sahod. .
Pag-iibang bansa,
Kawalan ng trabaho,
At kawalan ng sariling lupa” ?

Kung gayon,
Kung gayon.
Dapat silang matakot. .
Ang mga hindi tatahimik,
Ang mga ordinaryong tao
Na siyang itinataas
Ang kanilang kamao
Sa galit,
Ang nagpapakita sa lahat
Ng katotohonan:

Na tayo’y nasa gitna
Ng isang kotradiksyon,
Sa araw-araw
Na inaapakan
Ang simpleng dignidad
Ng naghahanapbuhay,
Ng mga magsasaka,
Ng mga manggagawa.
Ng kabataan,
Ng kababaihan.

Sila ang pinaka-makapangyarihang
Rebelde, Rebelyn.
Ang mga ordinaryong tao
Na ito,
Ang siyang tinatawag mong
Bayan. .
Ikaw ang pinaka-makapangyarihang
Rebelde, Rebelyn.
Ang siyang walang ginawa
Kundi ang panindigan
Ang kanyang pagkatao,
Nagsisilbing ilaw
Sa iyong ama.


Maybe, they made a mistake.
Thinking that
Your name marked you
As one of those feared
In our society that’s been steeped
In dirt
(Something even
The trapos could not freshen up),
They should kill you.

Did they go blind?
Assumed you were a threat
To their lives—
A woman,
A teacher,
Someone who was 20 years old?
Is that why they killed you?
Is that why they tortured you?
Because they thought your pen was a sword?

You’re a rebel,
What kind
Would you say?
Are you
The rebel
Who gave up
Her life
To drive out
The Spaniards,
The Americans,
The Japanese,
Marcos, and

Are you the rebel
Who was just tired
From the lies
Offered to the people?
The type who
Would never be silenced,
Who would scream,
At the depredations
Of the landed elite,
Of the multi-national

Are you the rebel
Who said,
“There is another way
To live.
There is a different kind of life
From the one we lead now,
With no choice
But to accept the tuition hike,
The rice crisis,
The energy crisis,
Without a rise
In wages for ten years.
No choice but to migrate.
Because there are no jobs,
And there is no land”?

They should quake and tremble.
For, those who will not stay silent,
Those ordinary people
Who raise
Their fists
In anger,

We are stuck
In a contradiction
As every day,
Simple human dignity
Is crushed under a heel.
The dignity of those who just want to live,

They are the strongest
Rebels, Rebelyn.
These ordinary
Whom you call
The people.
You are the strongest
Rebel, Rebelyn,
The one whose only crime
Was to affirm
Her humanity,
By living as a light
To your father.


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