GABRIELA USA Further Advances the Filipina Women’s Movement on National Women’s Day of Protest


October 28, 2013

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA,

GABDC launch_group

On October 28, 1983, over 10,000 women surged to Mendiola in the Philippines to protest the oppression, repression, hardship, and corruption of the Marcos dictatorship. Thirty years have passed since women have shown the power of collective action in the overthrow of a dictatorship, but even with the dictator gone, oppression, repression, and the struggles of the people still remain under the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies that further plunges Filipino families into hardship. Today, on the weekend of National Women’s Day of Protest in the Philippines, GABRIELA Washington DC launches as the newest GABRIELA USA chapter in advancing militant Filipina women’s voices across the world against the exploitative and repressive practices of the global imperialist system.

Most of the members of GABRIELA DC are survivors of human trafficking and are also mothers who have left their children back home to find a means to survive. All of them had been left to fend for themselves in a foreign country. Private recruitment agencies, along with loan sharks are given free reign to victimize Filipinos, who are seeking dignifiable work for their families. They leave their families for a job they were promised, and in this case as professional teachers, only to find themselves jobless when they arrive, and if they do find a job, they are not practicing their profession. The teachers followed all the correct procedures, protocoled by the Philippine government through the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, only to find themselves, along with thousands of others scattered throughout the U.S., as victims of the same private recruitment agency.

“It is easy to feel hopeless in the situation that we are in, but we are survivors. Even though many of us have unstable legal status, we still have rights and should be treated like a human beings and live in decent conditions. We have to be united so we are able to give justice not only for ourselves, but also for the welfare of everyone,” says Fen Ecleo, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA DC. The trafficked teachers who are members of GABRIELA DC came to realize that they are not alone, that this is a problem bigger than their own individual situations.

“In the Philippines, there is a crisis in every aspect of the public social sphere, including education and ensuring the well-being of the people through social services. Why are we sending our teachers abroad, only so they can waste their talents instead of teaching the future of our country?” says Tina Shauf, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA USA. Bureaucrats and their cronies in the Philippines are able to access billions through the “pork barrel” system, and yet struggling Filipino like the trafficked teachers are given few humane options to make a decent living.

We will continue to respond to a need to organize against corruption that prevents the genuine development of the Philippines and Filipinos globally. GABRIELA USA demands the right to stay with our families while working dignifiable jobs at home. The launching of GABRIELA DC highlights a historic moment in the Filipina women’s movement, given that the U.S. is the number one destination for Filipino migrants, the majority of whom are women.

In the spirit of National Women’s Day of Protest in the Philippines, GABRIELA will continue to utilize collective action to expose corrupt and unjust practices enforced by the U.S.-backed Philippine government. Until the Filipino people are treated with dignity and respect, GABRIELA will continue to advance the militant women’s movement to fight against such injustices.