Filipino women advance the struggle against U.S. imperialism and war!
On this International Working Women’s Day, March 8, 2005, BAYAN-USA joins women all over the world in commemorating the courageous and epic struggles of women against oppression throughout history and at present. We do so remembering a century of militant actions of women throughout the world as makers of history–fighting for equality and justice and an end to oppression and exploitation. In this respect, BAYAN-USA honors and recognizes the countless Filipino women who have built one of the largest and most militant women’s liberation movements in the world, one that has played an integral role in the advancement of our people’s movement for national democracy and against U.S. imperialism.
The Filipino women’s movement has been a leader in inspiring all sectors of Philippine society to dare to dream of a Philippine nation unleashed from the shackles of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. The Filipino women’s movement is a significant pillar in our people’s broad, multi-sectoral struggle towards a common vision for genuine freedom and democracy. The painstaking and daily task of educating, organizing, and mobilizing the struggling Filipino people towards this vision are taken up by more and more women, young and old, every day. Filipino women not only advance their struggles as women, but advance the collective struggle of our nation and of the world against U.S. imperialism in all its forms.
At present, the deepening world crisis of U.S. imperialism continues to place the Philippines in a state of chronic fiscal crisis, with backward agrarian practices and a pathetic national industrial base. This has left the overwhelming majority of our Filipino women workers, farmers, peasants and their families to live under conditions of abject poverty. Working hand in hand with imperialist institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization, U.S. puppet governments and plunderers such as the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime ensure the continued maldevelopment of the Philippine economy from which their bulging pockets can benefit from. Now, with billions of the people’s funds plundered for her re-election campaign alone, GMA has taken it upon herself to “rebuild” the economy by further whipping the backs of starving Filipinos and imposing socially unjust measures such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) which will surely intensify the burden on Filipino women to stretch their families’ meager resources even further.
As U.S. imperialist wars of aggression guised as anti-terror crusades take and devastate the lives of millions more women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and elsewhere, so too they ravage the lives of our women and children in the Philippines. Continuing joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises waged against the sovereignty of our country threaten the lives of Filipino women and will undoubtedly bring back the days when Filipino women and girls were prostituted and victimized by U.S. soldiers with impunity. Under these conditions where women’s lives, bodies, and rights are trampled on in favor of U.S. imperial interests, and with a puppet government who refuses to provide for the basic needs of their families, Filipino women make up more than 60% of one of the world’s largest migrant labor forces that find no other recourse than to exit the Philippines as a means of basic survival. With the hand of the Philippine government guiding them on their way out, Filipino women are carelessly pimped into some of the most dangerous and demeaning jobs overseas.
Here in the United States, Filipino women are more than half of an immigrant community whose human rights and civil liberties are in a state of constant attack. U.S. imperialism, in expanding itself violently through wars of aggression overseas, is also waging a domestic war of aggression against Filipinos and other immigrants and oppressed here in its home court. The USA Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act are examples of supposed anti-terrorism measures that in fact only serve to curtail the social and economic rights and welfare of immigrants–to further advance the U.S. imperialist agenda.
Billions of our tax-paying dollars sucked from federal agencies to fund the U.S. government’s racist and unjust war in all its forms have forcefully kept Filipino women and their families in the low-income bracket, devoid of basic social services, healthcare, and decent jobs. Yet Filipino women here in the United States are among the hardest working contributors to society. Every year, hundreds of well-trained Filipino nurses are systematically recruited to work in U.S. hospitals, tending to the sick, the elderly, the young. Waves of Filipinas serve as domestic workers, nannies, care-takers, and in many other underpaid professions. Yet in return for the blood and sweat, working Filipinas in the U.S. and all over the world face continued maltreatment, exploitation, and abuse and oppression.
Furthermore, Filipino women working for economic justice and fundamental social change through progressive organizations are systematically vilified branded as “communists” and ultimately as “terrorists.” Fascist and anti-people measures such as the National ID System and Anti-Terrorism Bill will put struggling Filipino masses under greater attack. The basic masses of Filipino women, workers and peasants, face confrontational violence when fighting for better working conditions, as seen with the recent massacre of sugarcane workers at the hands of the Philippine National Police in Hacienda Luisita. Sadly, when confronting the face of their enemy, Filipino women see other women’s faces, such as Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This should serve, as a reminder that advances for women of the ruling class, does not necessarily translate to progress for working women.
However, despite escalating fascism from the U.S.-Arroyo regime, countless Filipino women still brave state terror in forms of character assassination, violence, and murder to advance the people’s struggle. The Filipino women’s movement as part of the Philippine national democratic struggle is unshakable and unstoppable. It is in this regard that the long tradition of militant struggle of Filipino women against U.S. imperialism and its many faces must continue.
This struggle will continue in the United States as well, as Filipino women join their communities on March 19th to register their collective opposition to the U.S. war machine’s continuous expansion to Iraq and the Philippines. Filipino women here in the U.S.–from Seattle, to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to New York, and to Washington DC–will educate and mobilize our communities for the plight of the Iraqi and Filipino people–two struggles intertwined in herstory and united against a common enemy.
BAYAN-USA salutes the Filipino women at the forefront of our nation’s struggle. We salute GABRIELA, the largest and most militant alliance of hundreds of grassroots women’s organizations advancing the Filipino people’s national democratic struggle against imperialism, landlessness, bureaucrat capitalism, and patriarchal rule.
It is imperative that for the Filipino people’s growing mass movement to survive and succeed, young Filipino women around the world must play an integral part and carry the torch passed on to them by Gabriela Silang, by Melchora Aquino, by Lorena Barros, by Teresa Magbanua, by Eden Marcellena, and by millions of Filipino women workers and peasants who have dedicated their lives to the cause of freedom, justice, and democracy for all Filipinos. May the fire of their heroism burn brightly in our hearts, as we advance our struggle against U.S. imperialism and all its agents.
LONG LIVE THE FILIPINO WOMEN’S STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL DEMOCRACY! OUST THE U.S.-GMA REGIME! U.S. TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES, IRAQ, PALESTINE, KOREA AND HAITI!
Rachel R. Redondiez, Secretary General