Artists, Activists Take Anti-VFA Fight to Bars

Artists and activists staged a three-leg bar tour of gigs as a build-up towards the 10th anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).


Paslangin ang bawat salita
ng humamak sa kasarian:
Puta, kiri, kerida,
haliparot, talipandas,
putang ina mo.

Tiyakin ang poot, petsa at oras,
lahat ng sandali at pagkakataong
nagnakaw ng pagkatao
ang bawat kataga.
Ihanda ang sandata,
patalim na itatarak sa mga tirik
na gumahasa sa kaluluwa,
baril na magpapasabog
sa bawat alaala na pagkitil
ng puso.

Isagawa ang pagpaslang
sa araw na maliwanag,
sa harap ng lahat.

Hindi paghihiganti
kundi pagbibigay-katarungan
Pagkat krimen ang pagbigkas
ng mga salitang
ngayo’y pinapaslang.

Evalyn Ursua, erstwhile lawyer of Subic rape victim “Nicole”, recited this poem by Joi Barrios – titled “Pagpaslang” (Killing) – at the Mag:net Cafe along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

This was last April 30, and the occasion was the third and last leg of Artists Arrest the VFA, a bar tour of gigs in protest against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Passed by the Senate and signed by then-President Joseph Estrada in 1999, the VFA grants extraterritorial and extrajudicial “rights” to US servicemen visiting the Philippines. It made possible the Balikatan military exercises, which have been held annually since 2002. Atrocities by US troops have been reported in areas where the Balikatan military exercises have been held – of which the most prominent was the Subic rape.

The bar tour was jointly organized by the Artists’ Response to the Call for Social Change and Transformation (Artists’ ARREST) and the Junk VFA! Movement. Its first leg was held last April 7 at the Conspiracy Bar and Garden Cafe along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, while its second leg was held last April 24 at the Ten 02 Baralong Sct. Ybardolaza Street, near the corner of Timog Avenue, also in Quezon City.

Ursua had also performed during the tour’s first leg, together with Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Liza Maza; Roland Simbulan, a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila; and National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary-general Neri Javier Colmenares. The four are all conveners of the Junk VFA! Movement.

The second leg of the bar tour was also an occasion for the launch of a chapbook of poems, song lyrics, photos, and other literary and artistic works against the VFA. Contributors to the chapbook include award-winning poets Gelacio Guillermo and Raul Funilas, peasant leader and political detainee Randall Echanis, and The Jerks frontman Chickoy Pura.

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