Filipinas band together, no matter the distance
Last updated 2-5-09 at 1:30 p.m.
By Caroline Li
Northwest Asian Weekly
Words are not always enough to educate and mobilize a community
that is distant from the issues Filipino women face. Pinay Sa
Seattle is an organization that serves as a bridge to defend and
advocate for the basic rights of Filipinas globally.
On Jan. 18, local Filipinos gathered at the Filipino
Community Center to reflect on their struggles and celebrate the
spirit of Filipino women worldwide.
To kick start the New Year and its two-year anniversary,
Pinay Sa Seattle hosted “Diwang Pinay,” a full-length
multimedia cultural production that spotlights the artwork and
experiences of Filipinas in the diaspora. Diwang Pinay means “spirit
of the Filipina,” which “presents the historical struggle
of Filipina women as well as the spirit of resistance that
is part of that legacy,” said Katrina Pestano, vice-chair
of Pinay Sa Seattle.
Pinay Sa Seattle was founded in 2006 on the National
Philippine Women’s Day of Protest, a day to honors the historical
struggle of Filipino women. In the past two years, the organization
has mobilized support to stop politically motivated killings and
abductions in the Philippines and to end government repression
in the United States and abroad. Locally, the group runs workshops,
promotes awareness and runs education campaigns.
“We were able to bridge a number of different Filipino and
Fil–Am communities, from the youth to the elders. Everyone
was surprised and impressed by the focus on history with a feminist
perspective,” said Angela Dy, director of Youth Speaks Seattle,
a partner organization.
Pinay Sa Seattle is part of a new
overseas chapter of GABRIELA Network (GABnet), a women's organization based in the
Philippines. The alliance of Pinay sa Seattle, babae (based in San
Francisco) and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE in New York)
has gotten the thumbs up to develop GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas
chapter of GABnet. GABnet was founded in 1989 and serves
as a multi-sectoral women’s organization, with an alliance
of more than 250 organizations.
The organization was named after Gabriela Silang,
who led a regional revolt against Spanish colonizers in the Philippines.
Primed by anti-dictatorship struggles and the drive for significant
economic and political change from the Marcos years, women from
all walks of life banded together to establish GABnet in honor
of Silang and to respond to the challenges for liberation.
Diwang Pinay originated in the Bay area and is
hosted by each of the GABnet–USA organizations in their
own cities as a tool to adapt and connect their struggles nationwide. “The
exciting aspect of this particular show is being able to explore
our identities as Pinays in the U.S. against the backdrop of the
Philippine resistance to Spanish colonization as well as U.S.
imperialism, during a time of heightened militarization and economic
repression all over the globe,” said Pestano.
“It fills my heart with joy to celebrate two years of struggle and triumph
with militant Filipina women consciously resisting imperialism here within
the United States — the number one imperial beast,” stated Luzviminda
Uzuri Carpenter, secretary general of Pinay Sa Seattle.
Dy said the show was a success. About 250 people
attended. “Local communities were really able to see from
the show how a strong identity formation is crucial
for our young people; that knowing our history
and having heroes and role models — female
as well as male — within our communities is a way we can
give our young people a strong foundation upon
which they can then build their identities as individuals
and as community members,” she
said. “I feel that the elders were very surprised to know
that the youth still care so much about their history
and what the generations before them sacrificed
to procure a better future for their families.” (end)
For more information, please visit www.gabnet.org or www.pinaysaseattle.org.
Caroline Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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