“We will continue to rise, not only up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, but througout the whole year or even longer, as long as the government does not hear our demands.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Hundreds gathered on Valentines’ Day at the Lapu-lapu Shrine in Luneta for the fourth “One Billion Rising for Revolution.”
Women, men and children all danced tirelessly to the beat of OBR’s theme song “Bangon sa Rebolusyon” (Rise for Revolution) and raised their fists signifying defiance against all forms of violence against women and children.
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general, whose group is leading the rising in the Philippines said the fourth year of the OBR today heaps a litany of woes upon the government of President Aquino, who will step down from a presidency that left a bloody trail of abused and impoverished Filipinas sacrificed for the global terror war games and the globalized economic crisis.
Eve Ensler, the renowned playwright, activist and founder of the OBR, was also in the Philippines for this year’s OBR. She has visited communities here in the capital and recently visited the Lumad evacuees in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) compound in Haran, Davao City.
Listen to Eve Ensler’s entire speech
“Dance is one of the most powerful forces on the earth, and we have only just begun to tap into where it can take us. The struggle of humanity is the struggle to return to our bodies,” the OBR 2016 website read.
Satirist Mae Paner portrayed “Congresswoman Gara Pal,” who symbolized an Aquino ally who lambasted the groups steadfastly fighting for genuine change in the society.
“O ayan na naman kayo! Puro kayo satsat, reklamo ng reklamo. May sayaw sayaw pa kayong nalalaman (There you go again, with your tirade and your ranting! Now you’re even dancing!)” said Congresswoman Gara Pal, speaking after women leaders from different sectors narrated how their ancestral lands were grabbed by corporations, how joblessness led to their children’s hunger.
Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP) Rep. Emmi De Jesus countered by saying genuine change can be attained by government addressing the needs of the majority, and not band-aid solution policies. De Jesus enumerated the features of GWP’s programs as “LABKA:”
L – Land for farmers, jobs, decent salary and safe workplaces
A – Affordable prices of foods, water, electricity and transportation fare
B – Budget for basic social services
K – Kasarinlan (independence) at kalayaan (freedom)
A – Anti-diskriminasyon, (anti-discrimination), fight against abuse and advancement of the rights of and equal treatment for women, children, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender, (LGBT), and the indigenous people.
“The abuse against women, children, the LGBT, and indigenous people are still increasing. We have many things to do to eliminate all forms of abuse. Let us all fight to end this abuse,” said De Jesus.
“We have to escalate OBR every year, to break through the patriarchal wall of oppression and denial, to transform the mindset that has normalized this violence, to bring women survivors into their bodies, their strength, their determination, their energy and power and to dance up the will of the world to finally make violence against women unacceptable,” said Ensler.
She commends all the women who came today “to rise.”
Monique Wilson, global director of the OBR said the revolution does not end today. “We will continue to rise not only through the International Women’s Day on March 8, but the whole year or even longer, as long as the government does not hear our demands,” said Wilson.
She said women may be in for a long fight but they are not tired. “We may be aging, but we are still beautiful, getting stronger and bigger. Until the VAWC is eliminated, we will dance and continue to call for revolution,” she said.
Today, the Philippines is among the 207 countries who rise for the elimination of violence against women and children, Wilson said. “Along with our call to end abuse, is the demand to hold government accountable for the violence against women and children,” she said.
Gabriela said OBR flash mobs are also unfolding in other regions of the country, and being led by Gabriela chapters overseas, such as in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and New York towards March 8.
“March 8 is the day when thousands of women will mobilize to highlight their demand for land, jobs and just wages, and rights that the Aquino administration has continuously attacked during his presidency,” Salvador said.