Filipinos join 1 billion rising around the world to end violence against women

More than 5,000 trooped to Tomas Morato in Quezon City to “dance, strike and rise” not only against physical forms of abuse such as battering and rape but also against “state-instigated violence” and the “rape of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony.”


MANILA – In a festive and creative way, Filipinos – both men and women – joined the global campaign to end violence against women and children.

On Valentine’s Day, the Philippines was among the first of 202 countries to hold activities as part of the One Billion Rising campaign. Initiated by Eve Ensler, playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” and founder of V-Day, a global campaign against violence against women and children, One Billion Rising is a “call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends.

Gabriela, Gabriela Women’s Party and New Voices Company gathered thousands of women and men in Manila and 24 other cities all over the country in One Billion Rising events.

More than 5,000 trooped to Tomas Morato in Quezon City to “dance, strike and rise” not only against physical forms of abuse such as battering and rape but also against “state-instigated violence” and the “rape of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony.”

Elementary and high school students, government employees, barangay officials, activists, workers, urban poor, and children converged at Tomas Morato st. They were joined by politicians, artists, professionals, businessmen, artists, and church people. Together, they danced to the One Billion Rising Philippine song.

Clear message

In between the dancing, to the beat of One Billion Rising in almost all styles – including folk and hip-hop — were moving performances highlighting the issues of women.

Monique Wilson, theater actress and Philippine coordinator of One Billion Rising campaign, sang an original song “I am Rising” written by award-winning poet and playwright Joi Barrios with musical arrangement by Andrei Ionescu.

Wilson’s beautiful voice gave justice to the message of the song, holding the audience captive.

Various celebrities, including award-winning director Bibeth Orteza, Angel Aquino, Irma Adlawan, Maritina Romulo, Mae Paner a.k.a Juana Change, broadcast journalist Ces Orena Drilon, performed “Sawang-Sawa na,” the Filipino version of Ensler’s “Over it.” The Filipino version is also written by Barrios.

Maegan Aguilar sang her father’s song “Magdalena,” which tackles the plight of prostituted women.

Another high point in the main program was Bayang Barrios’s singing of “Babae.”

Meanwhile, speaking during the main program, Quezon City Vice Mayor Josefina “Joy” Belmonte, a long-time ally of Gabriela, said that since they started the One Billion Rising campaign last year, victims have come forward to seek help. She cited four cases of incest and sexual harassment, three victims of which are girls.

Charlemagne Chua Lim of the Morato Business Club called on victims to break their silence. “If you don’t speak up, there would be many more victims,” Lim said in Filipino.

According to Gabriela, one out of 43 women is beaten by either her partner or husband, a woman or child is harassed every hour. There are 500,000 victims of prostitution in the Philippines, 100,000 of whom are children.

According to the official website of One Billion Rising campaign, one in three women on the planet would be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador discussed other forms of violence, particularly what they classify as “state-instigated.”

Both women leaders lashed at the rape of our national sovereignty courtesy of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Ilagan criticized the Aquino administration for allowing environmental destruction, particularly by foreign mining companies.

She also condemned the violent demolition of urban poor homes, where women and children are most vulnerable.

Salvador, meanwhile, zeroed in on the impact of the Aquino administration’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Salvador said women and children are most vulnerable during heavy military operations that result in forced evacuation and other forms of violations, including rape.

Leaders from various sectors also testified how women are doubly exploited.

Women workers under the Kilusang Mayo Uno criticized the prevailing low wages and contractualization of labor while Amihan tackled the problem of land grabbing affecting peasant women.

Migrante partylist chairwoman Connie Bragas-Regalado said many women are victims of forced migration, citing that 60 percent of overseas Filipino workers are women.

The youth sector performed a skit tackling attacks on their right to education.

Men struggling alongside women

The campaign also drew support from men.

Boy Abunda, TV entertainment host and one of the V-MEN, said V-MEN are those who love and respect women.

Other members of V-MEN, including Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, theater actor Art Acuna, visual artist Egai Fernandez, TV actor Bobby Andrews, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chair Eugenio Villareal, Pinoy rock artist Chikoy Pura, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, elucidated through a poem and speeches why they have decided to take a stand against violence against women and children.

Pura performed two of his best songs, “Sayaw sa Bubog” and “Rage.”

Also present was National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, another V-Man.

Every day is V-Day

The program closed with the singing of “Do You Hear the People Sing.”

Wilson was all smiles as she thanked all those who participated. “We will continue to rise up, not just today but forever,” she said.

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