The Process of Struggle, Grieve, and Celebrate

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

Being back in the U.S. after 3 months of integration in the Philippines has been a long but steady (re)transition. This having been my third extensive stay in the motherland within the past 6 years, the (re)transition process is never easy. There’s this sense of culture (re)shock, proverbial dismemberment, and emotional disorientation. However, what makes this transition different from past experiences is having the support of the kasamas to welcome me back in the belly of the beast and help with processing everything that I have experienced. In past experiences, I still carried my individualistic tendencies and didn’t know how to properly process, to the point I shut everyone and everything off and locked myself in my room for a week.

I feel very blessed to have developed and grown to have a higher sense of collective effort, a higher sense of community. My experience with the mass movement in the Philippines definitely taught me that, and in the process, I clung close and fell in love with every kasama I have encountered, whether we’ve known each other for just a few days, 3 months, or most of our lives. No matter where we are in the world, we as kasamas fight the same struggle, grieve the same losses, and celebrate each other victories. And this is what makes this particular (re)transition process a little easier than the ones in the past.

The struggle we fight together is against the 3 basic problems; U.S. Imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. We do this in a myriad of ways, marching in the streets, writing press statements, and doing cultural work, just to name a few. I truly felt I grew as a cultural worker during my time with the kasamas in the Philippines. It deepened my commitment to use my art and organizing with the purpose combatting the problems that plague society, and the first purpose of serving the people.

During my time in the Philippines, we have experiences losses which we have grieved together as a movement. 6 activists were victims of extrajudicial killings within the first months of the new Aquino administration. Their only crime was serving the people. It did not matter if we knew them personally or not, we still grieved together because they were part of our collective movement for national democracy.

But the loss that was very personal and quite heavy for me to take in happened after I left the Philippines. I have grown quite close to a kasama named Alex Remollino. He was a writer, a poet, and a journalist for the movement. He used his gift of writing for the purpose of serving the people, and he truly embodied what it meant to be a cultural worker. I was with him practically every day, working together on various campaigns, preparing for the People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), and sharing many laughs in the office. Just always seeing his signature smile reminded me of what Talib Kweli calls “The Beautiful Struggle.” In the midst of struggle, as hard as it is, it’s always important to smile and laugh, because it keeps the balance in dealing with the struggle knowing how we’re doing good work in fighting oppression.

The day of my second interview for a job I was applying for, Alex passed away. I knew he had become sick and was hospitalized. The night before, I got updates from kasamas that he was getting better, so his death was devastating to accept. This was a kasama I became so close to, and is now gone from this world. Even though we only knew each other for 3 months, what mattered most was the quality of our time together, and I have gained a kasama for eternity. I had to wipe the tears away before the job interview, and to be honest, I don’t even remember how the interview went. I guess I was on auto pilot, because all I could think of was Alex. Later that night, I went to ALAY’s In Progress Open Mic and shared Lino Brocka’s “All to the Filipino Artist” to pay tribute to our beloved kasama Alex. It was cathartic for me, to engage in an artform Alex was known for, especially sharing a piece that exemplifies what it means to be a true artist, a true cultural worker. Through the facebook and twitter updates from the kasamas in the Philippines who were sharing tributes at Alex’s wake, I was there with them, grieving and celebrating the life of a true cultural worker and freedom fighter.

In this protracted struggle we fight together as a movement, we take time to grieve for the loved ones who have gone before us, but also remember to celebrate our victories. Today, I want to share and celebrate a personal victory. I don’t know what happened in that second job interview. Maybe it was my prayers being answered, staying positive, or kasamas who have passed on watching over me. But as of today, I am the new Youth Sector Bridge Project Coordinator for Community Youth Center of San Francisco. It’s a community project I have been hired to build from the ground up, to help immigrant youth learn life and job skills to contribute to their families and communities. It is a struggle that although is very local, I welcome it using all I’ve learned as an internationalist to continue serving the people. I am at this point in my life now because of all the struggles and the lessons learned from them, personally and collectively, locally and globally. It is truly a blessing from The Almighty Creator, who I praise and thank everyday for that I have been allowed to experience. The passion I have developed for serving the people I will implement into this new chapter in my life, and I wish to celebrate this with my community and my kasamas, wherever they may be.

Onward with the struggle…

SAN FRANCISCO COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES (SFCHRP) SALUTES THE LIFE OF ALEX REMOLLINO

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

SAN FRANCISCO COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES (SFCHRP) SALUTES THE LIFE OF ALEX REMOLLINO

Reference: San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Email: sfchrp@yahoo.com

SFCHRP mourns the death of a very dear comrade, cultural worker, and friend, Alex Remollino. Alex passed away on September 3, 2010, after battling health complications due to pneumonia and diabetes. After being in hospitalized for a week at Philippine General Hospital, his death comes as a shock after showing signs of recovery.

Alex was a writer, poet, and journalist, and he used his gift for writing to uncover the truth of what is happening in the Philippines. As a former writer for Bulatlat, a progressive and pro-people news website, he wrote many news reports on the plight of the Filipina/o people, which include poverty, landlessness, and human rights violations from the Philippine government and military manipulated by U.S. Imperialism. Alex has delivered Filipina/os abroad the concrete facts to fight against the social issues that plague the Philippines, giving them a sharp analyses on their root causes. Alex, like his fellow progressive journalists, wrote these news stories from the side of those deeply affected by exploitation and oppression, a side mainstream news media rarely dares to tell. Alex would often report these stories from the grounds where and when they were actually happening, and his finished products truly had the feel of fresh, still steaming delivery.

In addition to being a pro-people journalist, Alex was also a close comrade and fellow organizer to activists fighting for justice against U.S. Imperialism and its Philippine presidential puppets, as a staff member of BAYAN-Philippines. He would often be found at rallies and mobilizations, marching amongst the people. In mass actions, he would be on his laptop reporting the events in real-time, through online social networks or live streams. This was indeed a testament to his commitment to the masses and having their true stories be told. Aside from journalism, Alex also used his gift of writing as a cultural worker, in the form of poetry. He wrote many poems that dealt with justice, resistance, and national democracy . He wrote his poems based on his experiences with the oppressed and those fighting for liberation. He made these poems easily accessible to the masses through his blog as well as progressive news websites.

Through it all, Alex was also a very dear friend. Despite the hard work of mass organizing and progressive news writing, Alex always found time to laugh, break bread, and share his talents with those around him. Ryan Leano, of SFCHRP shares, “I first met Alex in 2009, when he was visiting the the organizations under BAYAN-USA. He shared with us the hard but rewarding life of being a progressive journalist in the Philippines, where human rights violations are seemingly indiscriminant. He also shared the basics of writing press statements and releases, of which I based a press writing workshop for our organization. I met him again in 2010 in the Philippines, where I spent 3 months doing mass organizing work with BAYAN-Philippines. I was with him almost daily, working together on the rallies and mobilizations, as well as sharing many laughs in the office. He has become a very close friend, and I am deeply affected by his passing. I miss him terribly, but I am forever grateful for all he taught me and the happy moments we shared as fellow cultural workers.”

Alex will always be remembered as a freedom fighter for the oppressed, a staunch anti-imperialist, a cultural worker with the purpose of serving the people, and a dear friend who loved to share laughter. His legacy will live on as long as cultural workers keep using their respective artforms with the purpose of serving the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and silenced.

MABUHAY, ALEX REMOLLINO! ITULOY ANG KANYANG LABANAN!!

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SF-CHRP, a member organization of BAYAN-USA, is a grassroots organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes people and communities in the Bay Area to take progressive action in upholding and supporting human rights in the Philippines, as well as supporting the human rights struggles of all people.

“Paalam” Doesn’t Mean Goodbye

Posted in Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

It’s been well over a month since my last blog. I had the intention of writing a blog at least every two weeks, but during the course of my journey as a cultural worker in the Philippines, there was never an idle moment. Whether it be a secretariat meeting, a mass campaigns meeting, a cultural workers forum, interviewing and working with cultural workers, helping with the effigy for SONA (State of the Nation Address), video documenting/editing events/mobs/rallies, teaching and rehearsing our dance routine for the SONA, I was basically a full time cultural worker.

There is so much to process and reflect during my past 3 months in the motherland, so much that cannot be contained within a blog. The only things I could do were twitter updates and video & picture uploads on facebook every chance I could find, which is what is now called “micro-blogging.”

There is so many stories to tell, and so many valuable lessons learned, that I really want to do them justice by taking my time to process everything. But if it one thing I can say about my journey in the motherland this time around, I can sum it up in one word: Love.

Love. It is one of the things I was told to be careful falling into during my time here. But after all the hard work, after all the anger and rage against the machine channeled creatively through our cultural work, and after all the joy and laughter, I couldn’t help it. I did fall in love, deeply. I fell in love with the movement for national democracy that crosses transnationally. I fell in love with the work that drives this movement, both creatively and administratively. Most especially, I fell in love with the people, both my fellow activists and the people we serve. It was their passion, creativity, humility, and love for the people that melted my heart.

I can remember a stage in my activism that was guided by nothing but rage and anger, a stage we call “grim & determined,” also know as G&D. It was during this stage when despite my good intentions, I instead had made enemies and my approach was more divisive rather than uplifting & unifying. I then realized a very humbling life lesson, as Che Guevarra said, “At the risk of sounding foolish, a true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.” That was 4 years ago, and though I etched that lesson into my head, this journey and this process, and the people who were with me every step of the way, etched that lesson into my heart. And that I why I say I fell in love.

To the people I’ll be returning to in this transnational movement: Bayan-USA, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, SanDiwa, and Pin@y Educational Partnerships; our motherland has nurtured one of her own, and she is giving me to you better, stronger, and wiser. We have the special and unique position of being in the “belly of the beast,” and as one of the activists here has said, each time we come back to the motherland and return to the belly, our movement becomes much stronger. I’m ready, conscious, and committed. Let’s get to work.

To the people that were literally by my side in this journey: Migrante International, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Makabayan Coalition, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, and Ugatlahi Artists Collective; I am forever indebted to all of you for all the love you have given me and the vital roles you played in my growth as an activist, a cultural worker, a person. Isang mahal, para sa masa, para sa pakikibaka. Hindi kita malilimutan, and I will not say goodbye, but I will say “Paalam.” Because “Paalam” means I’m just letting you know I’m only leaving the space, but with the intention of returning. We will definitely see each other again.

So, Paalam, motherland. Your son will return soon.

Visiting the Morong 43

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 7, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

The first time I heard about the Morong 43, I was outraged. It seems that serving people who are in need has become a crime. These are simple health workers; doctors, nurses, medical assistants. What possible threat could they be to the government? The Morong 43 were participating in a health training seminar on February 6, 2010, when the police and military stormed in the seminar and arrested them. They weren’t even read their rights. It wasn’t until they were all handcuffed and blindfolded when they were told why they were being arrested, which does not fit the rules of engagement in law enforcement. The 43 are accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and were attending a bomb-making workshop. After hearing the testimonies of their families and loved ones, and the lack of evidence, I know fully well that this accusation is not true. Nevertheless, regardless of political affiliation, no one should be treated this way by the government.

When I went to visit them at Camp Bagong Diwa for the first time, I was briefed by members of Karapatan and their relatives about what to expect. Now, even though I used to be a reckless menace during my younger days, I’ve never been caught for the petty crimes I did nor have ever been to a detention area. Honestly, I was pretty nervous. What would I talk about with them? What kind of questions should I ask, if any?

I first visited the women’s holding area, where the women of the Morong 43 are being detained. To my surprise, they were all smiling and happy to see us. These women were all very approachable and easy to talk to. After our introductions, they asked if I have any questions, and I replied, “Wala po. Nandito ako lamang makinig sa iyong mga kwento” (I don’t have any. I’m just here to listen to your stories). The first woman I talked to, Dr. Merry, shared with me that it wasn’t until they were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, a camp of the Philippine National Police (PNP), that they were all able to share their stories. They were previously detained at Camp Capinpin, a camp of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). At Camp Capinpin, they were handcuffed and blindfolded for the first 36 hours. They were also constantly tortured; slapped on the head, forced to urinate while still blindfolded and handcuffed not knowing if they’re being watched by a man or a woman, constantly told they were going to die, etc. They all took turns sleeping so they could hear what was happening to their colleagues. They were put into cells for 2 people or in solitary confinement. They weren’t allowed family visits, and when that was granted, they could only visit for 5 minutes.

It wasn’t until the aggressive outcry of progressive and human rights organizations in the Philippines and internationally, that 38 of the 43 were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, where they experience no torture at all. Unfortunately, 5 are still detained at Camp Capinpin because they were forced to admit they were NPA. The 38 still support them and understand their admission was forced, and still fear for the safety of the 5. Nevertheless, they are still considered part of the Morong 43. The conditions at Camp Bagong Diwa, while not ideal, are still far better than Camp Capinpin. They get family and friends visits for up to 4 hours on visit days, families and friends can bring them food, books, pens, art supplies, newspapers etc., all which were denied to them at Camp Capinpin.

The other women of the 43 I talked to were Mariel, Maria Teresa, Linda, Delia, and Jaq. They were all very animated and smiling. They say it’s because the conditions are better where they are now and their experience only made them stronger. Their detention only meant that they were doing something right. They are also happy and hopeful because of the support they have locally and globally. They continue to fight and struggle not just for themselves, but for all victims of human rights violations. To them, each day is one day closer to freedom. They also shared with me how it was hard to speak on their experience at first and couldn’t do so without crying. Now that they have constant visitors, it’s become easier to share.

When I went to visit the men of the 43, I got a bad taste of my human rights being violated. In order to visit the men, you must first go through a strip search. We were forced to take off our clothes in small private rooms while they took a look at EVERYTHING we had. Since I forgot I had my cell phone, I had to go back out and put it in the car, and when I went back in, I had to go through the strip search AGAIN. Now, I usually have no shame, but I thought this bullshit strip search was just too much and very unnecessary. It robs the visitors of more than their dignity. The strip search is something we’re going to protest.

When we finally got to see the men of the 43 in their cells, they were also happy to see us, but not as animated as the women. They all had an easy going demeanor but didn’t talk as much. Only one, Franco, was very animated and liked to talk. He serves as the spokesman for the 43. They also shared with me the same stories of torture as the women, with the addition of getting hit in the testicles while they urinated. I was warned about talking to Dr. Montes, the oldest of the group. I was told he was visibly depressed and standoff-ish. But when I talked to him, he opened up. He shared with me his years of work as a doctor and his hope for justice to prevail. His visiting grandson was hugging him the entire time we talked.

The second time we visited the Morong 43 was on the 4 month anniversary of their detainment. We staged a short rally outside with speakers from Bayan, ILPS, Migrante International, Free the Morong 43 Alliance, and League of Filipino Students. Joining us inside were Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino from Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Emmi de Jesus from Gabriela-Philippines, and other congress representatives from Anakpawis and Kilusang Mayo Uno. I was surprised Ka Satur remembered me from our first meeting at the Kabataan Party-list victory party. Once again, I was caught off guard as I was introduced as the speaker on behalf of Bayan-USA. Since everyone else spoke in Tagalog, I wanted to challenge myself and speak in Tagalog. I started off with a disclaimer: “Una, pasenya na ako, kasi ang aking Tagalog hindi mas magaling. Pero, I will try just for you” (Apologies first, because my Tagalog isn’t that great. But, I will try…). I basically said in Tagalog how we all felt in the US when we heard about their case and the work we’re doing to address it. I ended off by saying how they all inspire us with their strength and continued fight and hope. Ka Satur was the first to shake my hand and say how good that was, and everyone else thought so as well, even though I know I messed up on some grammar. Taritz, in her blunt honesty that I always love, said I need to practice more.

Currently, their file for writ of habeus corpus is still yet to be heard by the supreme court. Hopefully, with the ending of the highly unpopular President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term on June 30, 2010, the next president, which at this point looks like it’s going to be Noynoy Aquino, will release the Morong 43 and all political prisoners, just as his mother Cory Aquino did when she became president.

The inspiration and resolve in the struggle for human rights in the case of the Morong 43 is truly two-way. They say they have strength and hope because of our work and support. But really, they also inspire us by their resilience in the face of injustice. These very special kasamas have really done nothing wrong. Their only crime was serving the people. Echoing the words of the late Filipino freedom fighter Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, “If helping the poor is a crime and fighting for freedom is rebellion, then, I plead guilty as charged.”

Journey to the Motherland

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

“Beautiful Motherland, with tears of joy, your son has returned.”

That was my first twitter post I did the first chance I got when I arrived in the Philippines. That’s exactly what happened when my plane touched the tarmac on Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This is my 4th time back to the motherland in 6 years, and each time I come back I become more attached to the land of my ancestors. Although I was born and raised in the U.S., the land of my parents and ancestors always felt more like home to me. This was my goal way back in August 2010, when I twittered “The homeland is seriously calling me back. Pagbabalik ko sa Pilipinas, summer 2010.” Perhaps it was the rollercoaster of emotions I was feeling at the time being overwhelmed with my duties as a community organizer with SanDiwa, Bayan-USA, and PEP, coupled with the passing of Pres. Cory Aquino. Nevertheless, I truly felt the motherland was calling me to come back.

Now that I’m here, it’s an incredible feeling to know I’m beginning to accomplish that goal. I spent the first couple days going over my expo program with Bayan-Philippines and Migrante International. I wanted to do so much with the cultural work and human rights sectors that I realized my wild ambitions were taking over, which tends to happen with me a lot. The kasamas gently reminded me to slow down and just take things day by day, and first and foremost, “enjoy just being back in your motherland.”

My first adventure was to visit the family of my grandfather, Juan “Johnny” Agbayani Raymundo, the most important father figure in my life, who passed away in 1997. I still feel his spirit even though he’s no longer physically around. I stayed with his oldest living sibling, Lola Doting, and the family of his nephew, my Tito Eddie. They live on a quiet 5-hectare farmland in the province of Isabela known as the Raymundo Estate. My family has owned and farmed on this land for over 4 generations, but unlike big comprador landowners like the Ayalas or the Cojuangcos, my family doesn’t have any tenants and they farm the land by themselves. Whatever they grow, harvest, and sell, they own 100%. This is something I’ve never heard of before, farmers in the Philippines actually owning the land they live and farm on. I can only hope all land in the Philippines will one day be returned to its rightful owners, the peasants. And compared to the huge estates of the Ayalas or Cojuangcos, 5-hectares is really not that big. Although my family lives and farms on this small piece of land, they still live in meager conditions. Their income is largely dependent on the weather, and the recent El Nino dry spell has really affected their income. My Tita Hermie’s husband actually works abroad as a construction worker in Qatar to help with the family income. Same with my Tita Lorna, who travels back and forth between Isabela and around the world working as a domestic helper. I’m trying to help Tita Lorna with the immigration process to the U.S., where she can be the live-in caretaker my Lola really needs. When I asked about the socio-political climate in Isabela, namely the effects of the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, my Tito Eddie said this:

“For the most part, it is peaceful and quiet here. We have a name for the “insurgents”: the Nicest People Around! Whatever you read about them in the news; gangsters and terrorists, is really not true!”

Wow, Nicest People Around. I’ve never heard that before! I had to laugh, because all we see about them in the news is very negative and criminalized.

Tito Eddie shows newly harvested monggo beans

My Lolo Johnny and Lola Mely's wedding picture (1946) at Tita Hermie's house.

To be able to see where my Lolo Johnny grew up and perfected his craft as a farmer was very special to me. It made me appreciate all he did and sacrifice for our family even more. He was the first in the family to go to college. He survived the Bataan Death March as a soldier in World War II. He held multiple degrees in Engineering, yet worked in the U.S. as a humble repairman. He was able to bring my Lola and all 5 of his kids to the U.S., my mom included, and put them all through college. He is the most hardworking man I’ve ever known, and now seeing where he grew up, I now know why he was such a hard worker. He is still very highly regarded in Isabela. My family talks about him as if he was still alive.

Each time I come back, I am truly humbled and reminded not to take my privileges for granted. It’s only been 10 days and I feel the personal and spiritual growth. I can’t wait for my next adventure here in the motherland.

A Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

A Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights

Together, We Have
Worked the fields and in the canneries
Nursed the ill and the elderly
Taught the young and tomorrow’s leaders
Fought for freedom and defeated tyranny
Invented new technologies and perfected the old
Ministered to congregations celebrating life and coping with grief

Together, We Are
The doctors and nurses who heal the sick and tend the wounded
The engineers who build skyscrapers and roads
The accountants who keep businesses running, small and large
The custodians and room cleaners, clerks and dock hands who do thankless jobs with dignity and pride
The veterans who braved world wars to defend democracy
The farm workers, cooks and waiters, who put food on America’s tables
The playwrights and poets, painters and musicians who awaken our dreams and inspire our actions
Four million people who are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, employees, partners and community members

Together, We Will
Continue to cherish the American values of equality and freedom, and oppose misguided policies that undermine them
Keep families and communities, workplaces and homes together, because dividing us weakens us all
Fight for immigrant rights that value our contributions to society and give us the opportunity to fulfill our potential to build a better world.

Our Principles and Demands:

Uphold the dignity and humanity of all individuals. Legalization now!
Civilized society embraces equality and upholds the humanity of all people. Labeling individuals “illegal” demeans them, and forces millions to endure dangerous jobs, and to toil in the shadows in slave-like conditions. Criminalizing people for being “undocumented” subjects millions to the exploitation of traffickers, to remain in abusive relationships, or to refrain from reporting crimes because the authorities may imprison the victim instead of the perpetrator. We need legalization now, to free our community from the indignity of being labeled as “illegal”, and the inhumane treatment which is sanctioned by it and endangers us all.

Unify and Protect Families
Families of all shapes and sizes—parents and children, siblings, cousins and grandparents, same sex couples–deserve to be together. Many Filipino families have been waiting over 20 years to have their petitions for loved ones approved. We must clear the Family Visa backlog to stabilize our communities, both in the U.S. and in our homeland. We must protect immigrant women and children escaping abuse, and refuse to allow them to be subjected to the further cruelty of deportation. Children of immigrants should be shielded from all harm, including separation from their families and the threat of deportation. Support services must be provided in our languages and with sensitivity to our cultural values and norms.

Value Our Labor– Workers Rights for All!
The U.S. was built with the blood and sweat of working people. All workers must have the right to organize and to be free from exploitative contracts and working conditions. Having a underclass of workers drives down wages and protections for all of us. We must normalize the status of guest workers, because temporary contracts serve as a tool to undermine all workers. Law enforcement should punish illegal recruitment agencies and unscrupulous employers and lawyers, who maximize profits by preying on vulnerable and desperate workers—workers should not be penalized for the actions of their employers. The labor and contributions of all people, including immigrants and those who are undocumented, should be valued equally.

Dignity, Respect and Due Process for All!
The US government’s aggressive foreign policies of war and exploitation fuel economic and social instability worldwide. Immigrants should not be blamed for our national security concerns. Rampant raids, deportation, and inhumane conditions in detention centers jeopardize the safety of everyone. The billions of tax payer dollars contracted to build up and further militarize the U.S.-Mexico borders does not make us safer. We must build our immigration policies on the sound universality of human rights, not the volatility of criminalization and militarization.

Forced Migration is a Result of the Global Economic Crisis
One-sided and unfair trade agreements that have been designed to maximize profits for greedy corporations have destroyed the economy of the Philippines and many other countries, contributing to the ever-worsening economic crisis that has forced millions of Filipinos to seek jobs and means of survival elsewhere. U.S. political and military support to corrupt regimes who bankrupt their countries and repress their people also fuel worsening migrant and refugee conditions. We will link arms in solidarity with all migrant communities in the U.S. and internationally, until we have built a society where all people can thrive, families are not fragmented and separated by the urgent need for survival, and our homelands have the conditions in which all people can live a decent and humane life.

Signed:
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns * BAYAN USA * GABRIELA-USA * SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth* Filipino Advocates for Justice * FOCUS (Filipino Community Support – Silicon Valley) * Philippine Forum New York * Fellowship for Filipino Migrants – Chicago * AnakBayan Chapters of East Bay, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York/New Jersey * Babae SF * League of Filipino Students-SFSU * SiGAw (Sisters of Gabriela Awaken) * Philippine Forum New Jersey * South of Market Community Action Network * Filipino Ministry – Diocese of San Bernardino * Filipino Migrant Center – Los Angeles* Stanford Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) * Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) – New York* Pinay sa Seattle * Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Portland, New York, San Francisco Chapters * Filipino Community Center – San Francisco * Pilipino Youth Coalition – Southern Alameda County * Habi Arts – Los Angeles

Philippine Solidarity Statement for March 4th National Day of Action

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

STRUGGLE FOR EDUCATION RIGHTS

RESIST STATE ABANDONMENT AND COMMERCIALIZATION OF EDUCATION

Solidarity Statement from Philippines

March 4, 2010

Various students and youth belonging to the ANAKBAYAN Philippines (Sons and Daughters of the People), League of Filipino Students and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, together with the National Union of Students of the Philippines and College Editors Guild of the Philippines, join in solidarity with the students, youth and education sector across the United States of America in the March 4 Nationwide Day of Action to Defend Education.

The picture is clear everywhere. It is the people who bear the brunt of rescuing big capitalists in this great recession, with the increasing slash on social welfare funding including education.

In the US, the anti-students and anti-people policies like the policy of 32% tuition hike passed by the University of California Board of Regents last November 2009 deserve the strongest condemnation of the youth. Most affected also are the peoples of color and the students from working families who are still struggling with their outstanding mortgages.

Similar cases of tuition hikes have also been experienced in other states, all blaming cutbacks in government funding.

Last year students, workers and faculty in the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) also militantly defied Governor Paterson’s ill-willed proposal of $698 million education budget slash which were to directly effect a raise in tuition fee for SUNY up to $620/school year, $600 for CUNY and $400 for community colleges.

In Europe too last November, there had been massive workers-supported students strikes like the mobilization of about 250,000 all across Germany in the clamor against the introduction of tuition increases and curriculum revisions.

Students in Austria and even in Scandanavian countries decried the bail-out for the banks and held walk-outs and “university occupations” in resistance to the European Union’s Bologna process which is to drive education more to serve imperialism.

Student movements in Asia Pacific especially in Indonesia, India and Korea had also agitated against the worsening condition of the youth with the state abandonment of education.

We therefore commend our fellow youth and students in New York City and throughout US for their courage to stand up inside the “belly of the beast”.

Cut-backs on state funding is abandonment of government’s responsibility and an outright attack to the people’s most basic right to education. It paves way to tuition and exorbitant fee increases, academic staff lay-off, cramped up rooms, and a host of other infringement as commercialized regime on education is imposed in various levels.

To delude the public, the government use as an excuse the “nominal increase” in education funding which is always lopsided and unproportional to number of new entrants. The more obsene is the use of the argument that higher education is no longer a right and therefore with the use of the “globalization mantra” everyone is urged to pay for their education. Education is a commodity with a price-tag.

In the Philippines, the myth of the “liberal education” instituted from the American direct colonialism in our country up to current regime, is unmasked as an ensuing and worsening education in crisis that is colonial, commercialized and fascist in character.

The global recession further worsened the Philippine education sector for in truth, the current Arroyo regime has been ruthlessly attacking our basic right and with all servility imposes the policies of imperialist globalization that has led to worsened commercialization of education. In the tertiary level from 2001-2008 alone, the Arroyo regime presided over the 70% increase of the national average tuition and an allotment of measly 1.8% of GDP given to the entire education budget, pathetically way below the international standard and among the lowest in the world.

What happens to the youth who cannot continue their education? They are added to the battalions of reserve labor force or unemployed or join the cheap semi-skilled work-force who are most exploited in times of capitalist crisis.

Faced with such attacks on our fundamental rights, we have no other option but to fight back. This is a lesson we have learned through decades of fearless struggle, and a lesson we will continue to uphold until we are victorious.

Once again, we Filipino youth raise our fists in solidarity with you in the continuing struggle to end the foreboding annual budget cuts and tuition increases. We must join our hands in resisting the onslaught of imperialism against our education and the youth’s future.

Education is a right, not a privilege!

Long live international solidarity!

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The ANAKBAYAN Philippines, League of Filipino Students and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines are members of the International League of People Struggle (ILPS) and BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance); The NUSP and CEGP are two biggest national alliance of student unions and campus publications in the Philippines respectively.