FilAm Activists Protest Aquino’s State of the Nation Address

FilAm Activists Protest Aquino’s State of the Nation Address | Balitang America

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau, San Francisco and Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau, New York
A day after President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address, Filipino-American activists from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and New Jersey held simultaneous demonstrations protesting Aquino’s presidency.

Last night, activists in San Francisco held a protest march all the way to the Philippine Consulate.

These FilAm protesters say while they’re giving Aquino a chance to prove his worth as president, they’re also keeping a watchful eye on him.

Bernadette Herrera of the Samahan ng mga Kababaihan said, “Kailangan mapagbantay ang mga mamamayan.  Kung may maganda siyang ginawa, suportahan natin.  Pero kung may masama siyang ginawa, kailangan nating tuligsain para ma-remind siya na baguhin ang mali.” (We need to stay vigilant.  If he does something right, we need to support him.  But if he does something wrong, we need to hold him accountable.)

These activists say enough with the talk.  They want action.  They want to know if Aquino can truly champion all Filipinos, especially those working overseas.

Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns said, “We’re going to continue voicing our opinions as long as human rights violations are being committed, as long as overseas workers are being exploited, as long as immigration reform is not happening here in the United States, and Aquino does nothing about it.”

To be able to do his job as president, these FilAm activists say Aquino needs to stop dwelling on the past administration’s faults.

Elaine Villasper of Gabriela-USA said, “He spent so much time blaming Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during his State of the Nation Address.  We were waiting for his plan.  What is he going to do to find money for the Philippines, to lower poverty line, to answer these issues that he says Arroyo left him?”

These FilAm activists say instead of talking about corruption among politicians, Aquino needs to keep track of government spending.

Joshua Castro of Bayan USA said, “If there is discrepancy as to where the money is spent, then there should be an investigative process to make sure that the money is accounted for.  There are plenty of resources but we have to make sure that the money is spent properly and it goes where it’s supposed to go.”

Meantime, FilAm activists in New York and New Jersey say Aquino may have a lot riding on his shoulders right now, but the country’s future is at stake.

They held a protest last night in the heart of the Filipino community in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Protesters say Aquino’s State of the Nation Address lacks the teeth they were hoping for and does not include the demands they were asking from him.

Gary Labao of Bayan USA said, “Unang-una, narinig natin ang matamis na talumpati ng bagong administrasyong Aquino, subalit nalulungkot kami dahil malaki ang kakulangan sa kanyang mga pangako.” (We have heard those promises from Aquino before.  But we are disheartened that there is so much lacking in his promises.)

Yves Nibungco of Bayan USA added, “Unang una po wala po rito ang mga tunay na programa para tigilan yung pag-migrate ng mga kababayan natin dahil wala diyan yung job creation, national industrialization, yung genuine agrarian reform, at yung pagpapanagot kay Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.” (There are no programs to stop the migration of our fellow Filipinos.  There are no programs on job creation, national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform and holding Arroyo accountable for her past administration’s errors.)

Hanalei Ramos, a Gabriela USA member said that if President Aquino feels weighed down by the mess created by the former President, then he should start investigating and prosecuting Arroyo, “GMA needs to be held accountable for all the atrocious human rights violations that have accumulated over the last 9 years.”

This group also wants the U.S. forces completely out of the homeland by junking the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Meantime, a Jersey City resident who happened to see the protest said it’s premature to grade a new President’s job performance at this time since it’s only been a month since Aquino took office. “Alam mo ang mga tao walang patience, It doesn’t take overnight para mabago mo ang iyong country.”(People have no patience.  It doesn’t take overnight to change the country.)

These Filipino activist groups in New York and New Jersey vow to keep a close watch on President Aquino’s every step… to remain vigilant and to keep the pressure on the president until all their demands are finally met.

Filipino-American Women Send A Mother’s Day Message: Elect Liza Maza & GWP!

For Immediate Release
May 6, 2010

Contact: Raquel Redondiez, Vice Chairperson, GABRIELA USA,

Filipino-American Women Send A Mother’s Day Message: Elect Liza Maza & GWP!

Gabrielas in the U.S. Call On Their Motherland For A Clean and Honest Elections & To Vote For Progressive Women’s Partylist & Candidates

With less than a week before citizens of the Philippines cast their votes for the 2010 elections, Filipino-American mothers and daughters show their support for a partylist that has upheld and fought for the rights of women, children, and migrants – the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). Members of GABRIELA USA put together a commercial, featuring a diverse cast of women: mothers, students, workers, community advocates and queer women, all pledging their support for GWP and its Senatorial candidate, Liza Maza.

“As Filipino-Americans, it’s important to us mothers and daughters that those who sit in government positions truly have the interest of the people in mind. Liza Maza and GWP have proven this with their history of creating breakthrough legislation that protect women and children and survivors of violence, and also co-authoring the bill allowing for overseas absentee voting. This is why this Mother’s Day weekend, we support GWP and Liza Maza,” says Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA. “It is our hope that the commercial reaches our kababayans abroad and in the Philippines, and elect Liza Maza and the Gabriela Women’s Party.”

The commercial, uploaded onto Youtube, presents a multigenerational cast of women with diverse interests and issues. Donning “Maza ako” shirts, the women urge viewers to vote for senatorial candidate Liza Maza, and Gabriela Women’s Party. Although a number of the cast members cannot vote in the current elections themselves, it does not mean that they do not have a concern about its process or its outcome. Members of GABRIELA USA are calling and texting their friends, relatives, and kababayans in the Philippines on Mother’s Day to urge them to vote for GWP and Liza Maza, and are steadfast in ensuring a clean and honest election process.

To view the commercial, please visit[youtube=].


Filipino American Women to March for Workers and Immigrant Rights on May 1

For Immediate Release



On this May 1st, Filipina-American women are taking a stand for immigrants’ rights across the nation. In the light of the Schumer Bill, that will enforce a stricter identification system in the United States and the current passing of SB1070 in Arizona, a law that will allow police to racially profile and criminalize immigrants, GABRIELA USA’s mothers and daughters will march with thousands of other immigrants to fight for legalization for all. For the Filipino community, immigration is a focal point and issue for Filipino families nationally, there are an estimated 4 million Filipinos in the United States, including an estimated 1 million undocumented Filipinos. The majority of Filipinos migrate to the United States through family visa sponsorship, but are often subjected to wait periods of 10 to 15 years for their petitions to be processed and to be reunited with their loved ones.

“We should not have to live in fear of being escapegoated or being seperated from our families, when Filipinas contribute so much to our society– caring for the sick and elderly, educating our future leaders, and contributing in all aspects of this society.   We are not criminals, we are women workers and professionals trying to sustain our families,” stated Raquel Redondiez, chairwoman of GABRIELA USA.

GABRIELA USA endorses the National “Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights” in coordination with BAYAN USA and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. It is attached below for further reading.


For more information on May 1st Actions please contact:

Los Angeles:
Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw)
Media Contact: Terrie Cervas – (213) 537- 8278
Assembly point: 9am: S. Olympic and W. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015

San Francisco:
Media Contact: Raquel Redondiez – (415) 244-9734
Assembly point: 12 noon- 24th and Mission, San Francisco

Pinay sa Seattle
Media Contact:
Assembly Point:

New York:
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)
Media Contact: Cris Hilo – (818) 281-3134
Assembly Point: 11:30 am on the south side of Union Square, along East 14th Street near Broadway, in Manhattan.

Fil-Ams demand better apology from Carolla over Pacquiao slur

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau | 04/07/2010 2:59 PM

NEW YORK – Author and psychologist Dr. Kevin Nadal has defended the Filipino community against racial slurs before, having led protests against ABC in 2007 after the network’s hit show Desperate Housewives made a slanderous comment about the Philippines’ reputation in the medical community.

ABC apologized and made amends after the snafu.

Now, Nadal has something—or someone, rather—new to focus on. Comedian and radio personality Adam Carolla, known as former host of Loveline with Dr. Drew, and The Man Show, recently disparaged boxer Manny Pacquiao and the Philippines in his podcast.

“Here’s how you know your country doesn’t have a lot going for it when everything is about Manny Pacquiao. Get a ***ing life as a country,” Carolla said. Carolla also said Pacquiao was illiterate, that the Philippines was only known for the boxer and its sex tourism industry, and that Pacquiao prays over chicken bones.

Nadal immediately published an online petition demanding an apology from Carolla.

“We need to fight every time and anytime someone does anything that’s unjust or anything that is discriminatory towards our community,” Nadal said.

With more than 3,000 signatures and counting, it’s now the number one petition on

Carolla has since apologized via his Twitter page, saying he’s sorry he offended many Filipinos, and that while he tries to be “provocative” and “funny,” he “crossed the line,” adding later that Manny is a great fighter.

Pacquiao has accepted Carolla’s apology, but Nadal says it’s not enough. Nadal wants Carolla to apologize on his podcast, so everyone can hear Carolla “in his own voice.”

Some Filipinos say however that there is a degree of truth to Carolla’s statements. Valerie Francisco of the Filipino womens’ rights group Gabriela USA says, “The issue of sex trade affecting women and children in the Philippines has been a really grave problem and a serious issue.”

Other Filipinos, however, believe paying attention to Carolla is not worth it, and may just give him attention he doesn’t deserve.

“If we waste a lot of effort just policing this guy, it might be a band-aid solution,” said Brian Tenorio.

Francisco adds that the end of statements similar to Carolla’s will end “when Filipinos change the character of how the whole world looks at them as migrant workers and global citizens.”

View the online petition here Balitang America

Fil-Am Women Denounce Adam Carolla’s Promotion of Sexual Exploitation of Filipina

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2010

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair of GABRIELA USA,

Fil-Am Women Denounce Adam Carolla’s Promotion of Sexual Exploitation of Filipinas

Demeaning Comments of CBS Comedian Underscores Necessity of GABRIELA’s IVOW Campaign To Combat Violence Against Women Including Sexual  Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children

GABRIELA-USA condemns Adam Carolla’s repulsive comments disparaging Manny Pacquio and joking about sex tours in the Philippines.

“There is nothing funny about the sexual exploitation of women and children and the illicit sex trade in the Philippines.   Adam Carolla and CBS should issue a formal apology.  It is these types of irresponsible comments that help reinforce the culture of violence against women” says Raquel Redondiez, Chairwoman of GABRIELA-USA.

The extreme poverty and reprehensible sex trade at the expense of women’s and children’s bodies is rooted in decades-long neo-colonial relationship that the Philippines has had with the United States.  While Carolla wrongfully blames the Filipino people for these deplorable realities, the truth is that the primary driver of the sex trade in the Philippines is the history of United States military presence in the Philippines since the Spanish-American War. For over a century, U.S. imperial power has been maintained in the Philippines through wars of aggression often fought on women’s and children’s bodies through rape, prostitution, and sex trafficking.

“The comments are not only ignorant, racist, and demeaning to all Filipinos, but they are also harmful to the thousands of women and children who are involuntarily trafficked and forced into the sex trade every year as a result of the Philippine nation-state’s impoverished economic conditions.” says Terrie Cervas of SIGAW, a Los Angeles-based group of Filipinas.

Since the Philippines’ nominal independence from U.S. colonial rule in 1946, U.S. military bases were banned from the land.  However, the U.S. has been able to evade justice by enacting the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which has allowed continues  U.S. military presence throughout the archipelago.   The VFA has promoted the prevalence of U.S. military personnel to act with impunity.  U.S. military presence in the Philippines promote the sex trade industry, resulting in massive cases of sexual exploitation including the involuntary rape and trafficking of women and children.

“We have not forgotten Nicole who was raped by U.S. Marine Daniel Smith and the countless other Filipino women and children who have been victimized as a result of institutionalized racism and American media’s hypersexualization of Pinays.” says Valerie Francisco,  Chair of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a New York- based Filipino-American group.

To combat institutionalized violence and oppression, especially towards Filipino women and children, GABRIELA-USA launched an educational campaign in February called “iVOW to Fight VAW”.  The campaign seeks increase awareness and raise public condemnation of violence against women (VAW), as well as education diverse communities on the root causes of the different forms of violence.  Carolla’s crude comments have proven the need for such conversations to continue in order to fight violence against women and children.

GABRIELA-USA is a national alliance of progressive Filipino women organizations and an overseas chapter o”f GABRIELA Philippines, with Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle, Sisters of Gabriela Awaken in Los Angeles, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York City.