Fil-Ams March for Genuine Change at New York Philippine Independence Day Celebration

New York, NY — In line with the theme of the Philippine Independence Day Celebration 2010: “Bagong Pagsasama, Bagong Bayanihan, Bagong Pagbabago”, over 150 Filipino-American and im/migrant members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) marched together through the streets of New York City last June 6, Sunday afternoon, to demand genuine change for Filipinos, from the Philippines to the United States.

NAFCON participated in the Philippine Independence Day Parade with thousands of other Filipinos, not only to celebrate the independence of the Philippines from Spain, but also to raise awareness on the current situation of Filipinos in the Philippines and in the U.S.

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With the ongoing political corruption in the Philippines, and over 1,000 extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists since Arroyo took office; in addition to degrading immigration laws that would criminalize immigrants in Arizona and a possible immigration reform bill that would demand national identification and/or a biometric system has characterized the current state of why Filipinos organizing and taking to the streets against such corruption and oppressive laws is necessary at this point of time.

During the parade, member and allied organizations of NAFCON including Philippine Forum New York, Philippine Forum New Jersey, KABALIKAT: Domestic Workers’ Support Network, Kappa Pi (Kapatirang Pilipino) Fraternity, Young Educators for Health and Empowerment of the Youth (YEHEY), American Pinoy Organization of the Youth (APOY of the Hudson Community County College), the Sentosa 27++ nurses, Anakbayan NY/NJ, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), chanted in unity, “Pagbabago! Ipatupad! Tunay na Repormang Agraryo! Ipatupad (Change! Enforce it! Genuine Land Reform! Enforce it!)”, “We are people! We are not illegal!”, “Shut Sentosa! Shut down Sentosa Now!” and “Prosecute, prosecute, GMA! Singilin, singilin, pagbayarin! (Charge her, charge her, let her pay!)”

Even if there was a variety of issues in the community, the member organizations of NAFCON marched and united together against these problems. Their joint solidarity was symbolically represented with a “Bahay Kubo” on the backs of different members of different organizations to show the Bayanihan spirit–when community members come together to help out in the worst of times. Behind the bahay kubo is the sun symbolizing the Filipinos’ vision for change within the Philippine government with the ushering in of the new leadership. Other props were produced such as the mascot of the outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wearing an orange prisoner’s shirt and handcuffs by the youth of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey.

“This is our time to continue our struggle as Filipinos since the time of Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan to fight for genuine freedom and independence in our country. We, as Filipinos, continue to be oppressed whether in the homeland or abroad, but our resistance is strong wherever we may be. Even after Cory Aquino’s time as president when she made a call for genuine agrarian reform during her presidency, that agrarian program has not happened and majority of the Philippines still lives in poverty due to landlessness. In a time when Noynoy Aquino, the son of Cory Aquino, is the new president, genuine agrarian reform is due and needs to happen. As Filipinos abroad, we must also stay vigilant against such laws like Arizona’s SB1070 that will legalize racial profiling and continue to police our communities. We must take a stand before it gets worse,” said Rico Foz, NAFCON Executive Vice President.

Kababayans (fellow Filipinos) who watched the parade cheered, raised fists and chanted along with the NAFCON contingent and the two other major Filipino alliances with member organizations all over the US — BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA — as they marched through Madison Avenue.

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