March 8 Women’s Day: Gabriela Pageant against Rape of Motherland

1 GabrielaPhilippinesMarch082013_PhotoJoannaLerio

International Women’s Day commemoration in Manila took off in five-station performance as GABRIELA Philippines and Gabriela Women’s Partylist #54 led women from different sectors along with their children and Diego Silangs in marching to key sites to establish their grief against poverty, state treachery and the ultimate rape of Motherland.


At seven in the morning, a hundred started to assemble at T. M. Kalaw Street with their props of placards, flags and streamers. And their costume? Most came with their Gabriela shirt in pink, purple, red, blue, black and white with headband accessories and flaglets. Others came as they were: urban poor dress up, student uniform and office wear. Inangbayan (Motherland) is clutched with US flag and dragged in chains by Uncle Sam.

The crowd did not make it to the site however because uninvited policemen created a scene by blocking the road to the first station causing unnecessary obstruction of traffic. By sending his men to protect the rapist, this in itself was an evidence of Pres. Benigno Aquino’s puppetry and crime accomplice.

2 Gabriela Philippines March082013_Photo Joanna Lerio

Women stood firm. Democracy today is but a country without people. More than 3,000 US soldiers scattered in 7,107 Philippine islands means one US Guardian owning 2 to 3 islands. Whatever would remain of Filipino farmers and indigenous peoples? Seas have become an open body of water for toxic wastes. America was good in poisoning Subic Bay and in leaving their cultural decay at Angeles. How many Nicoles can they bang in a day and leave their condom in an island girl’s vagina? They could do better now with a hospitable president. The US navy can freely dive, crush century-old corals and bear fishes out of wedlock because the World Heritage Tubbataha Reefs is not on their map. Bitch boys are not only beach boys. They also love Philippine mountains and play fire in trees and nipa huts just like in old Vietnam days. And how many natives would they kill in one mountain village just because their arrogant IQ thought they shot a wild pig? My Brother is not a pig, Joe! This famous line of Corazon dela Cruz delivered by Nora Aunor in Minsa’y Isang Gamugamo (1976) is a reminder of such incident in Central Luzon. US soldiers exercise shooting at innocents the way they did and do in Mindanao, Bicol, Samar and Cordillera since the US Bases and first Balikatan when they could not accept the fact that the forests had long decided to reveal only the secrets of its terrain to NPAs or better known as Nice People Around.

Inangbayan is not justice in blindfolds. She can tear the Visiting Forces Agreement to pieces. She can crush the chain of oppression. She can burn the US flag even in the face of a US law forbidding the burning of its ass in public.

3 Gabriela Philippines March082013_Photo Joanna Lerio

SECOND STATION: Manila Police District (MPD) Headquarters

At eleven midday, hundred more actors joined. They now moved to UN Avenue to rescue two freedom fighters: a community organizer/street educator and a child rights advocate held by the tired and bored and bulging bellied police. They were imprisoned
for more than 24 hours due to logical storming of Malacañang Gate 7 in the eve of March 8.

The mob dared human rights traffickers that they are not moving to the next station until brother Eule Rico Bonganay and sister Abigail Extremadura are released because fighters as they are, they would rather go hungry and live in reunion with the social movement than go ill in a decongested prison facility or suffer in the the stinky den of crocodiles.

Bonganay and Extremadura were soon freed because in the first place, they were pointed to nothing but stupefied charges. This was of course good news while leaving a reminder to strengthen the campaign for the release of more than 300 political prisoners still deprived of serving the country outside of jail.

5 Gabriela Philippines March082013_Photo Joanna Lerio

THIRD STATION: Liwasang Bonifacio

At four in the afternoon, hundreds more joined. It was the scene for progressive politics to declare its agenda for Motherland. Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan spelled it clearly in the LAbKA (Lupa, Abot-kayang Presyo, Kasarinlan/Kalayaan, Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Violence on Women and Children). The leader recited land for the tillers, affordable commodities for consumers and accessible health, water, electricity, education and housing services; one billion rising against domestic, industrial and state violence; pushing for LGBT rights and welfare; natural resources for Filipinos and not for foreign greed, asserting national patrimony and defending the legitimate Sabah claim of our Tausug Muslim Brothers and Sisters. There are urgent tasks. And there is a protracted fight because women’s emancipation can only happen when Motherland herself experiences liberation.


FOURTH STATION: Mendiola Bridge

At six in early night, there were already thousand actors massed up to torchlight Mendiola Bridge where Pres. Noynoy snores to sleep. They were all resolved to turn to ashes the Rape Agreement between US Pres. Barack Obama and PH Pres. Aquino. Like past effigies created by Ugatlahi Artists Collective, the mug shot of the two rapists created for weeks was burnt in minutes.

6 Gabriela Philippines March082013_Photo Joanna Lerio

LAST STATION: Back to Organizing Base

At eight in the evening, cast of masses peacefully dispersed to take a rest, gain strength and live another day for victorious struggle. Contrary to what MMDA traffickers believe that we were in the street for more than eight hours as paid actors or as paid audience of Gabriela Women’s Partylist #54, we were actually there as true-red daughters and sons of Motherland, new Gabrielas and Diego Silangs of the time.

And today, as the People’s Chorale sang Do You Hear the People Sing, Filipino women and families pay their highest tribute to Hugo Chavez and send their international solidarity to the people of Venezuela who suffer the loss of a true leader of the poor, a democracy fighter and a socialist who chose to trust ordinary people in building the economy over succumbing to capitalism.

About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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