National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Rallies in Sacramento in Support of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

From Balitang America:

Filipino Caregivers Demand Passage of Workers Bill of Rights

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – About 200 caregivers and their supporters traveled to the State Capitol in Sacramento yesterday to attend the first hearing on the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The bill would grant caregivers and domestic workers rights to minimum wage, overtime pay, sick and vacation leaves, proper rest breaks and health care coverage.

69-year- old Tony Reta, who once cared for nine elderly patients on a daily basis said caregivers are burdened with round-the-clock hard work. He said, “Not only do you have to care for the patients, you have to care for the home where you work is clean. It’s not a joke. It’s hard work.”

Another caregiver, 60-year- old Boots de Chavez traveled all the way from Los Angeles — to let California lawmakers know how much they’ve suffered. She said, “We feel there are no rewards to our hard work. We don’t have any protection at work.”

Reta and de Chavez’ prayers for support from the government were answered that day. The California Assembly Committee passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. But the bill has to go through the Assembly floor, the Senate committee and the Senate floor — before it goes to Governor Jerry Brown’s office for signing.

If it passes among California lawmakers, Brown could sign the bill by September.

New York is the only state in the nation that has passed a similar bill of rights for caregivers and domestic workers.

You can reach Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com

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Corazon Aquino 1933-2009

Undoubtedly the news of the death of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino is spreading like wildfire not only amongst the Filipino American community, but all over the world. Many Filipino Americans, such as myself, who came of age during the 80s may not have had a grasp of the incredible circumstances under which Mrs. Aquino rose to power, but we nonetheless knew of her as the first Filipina woman to hold the seat of Philippine president.

President Aquino left an impression upon many young Filipino Americans as some of us would proudly proclaim that the United States was well behind the political curve of our homeland as we in fact had beaten Americans to the punch of putting a woman in charge of our highest public office. Repping Tita Cory back in day was actually the cool thing to do.

People Power Uprising:  February 22-25, 1986
People Power Uprising: February 22-25, 1986

The EDSA revolt, People Power “Revolution”, People Power Uprising, “Bloodless Revolution” or whatever seemingly interchangle term used by mainstream media to describe the chain of events in which a sea of ordinary Philippine citizens united in mass protest against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. The immense demonstrations, backed by the Philippine military, led to expulsion of President Macros from the Philippines. The aforementioned events have to this day been part of a hotly debated discourse concerning not only who really was responsible for leading and or inspiring the mass demonstrations, but also whether the Philippines was actually better off in the long-run of having Aquino rather than Marcos as its president.

At the moment, popular news has portrayed the anti-Marcos uprising as largely under the leadership of Mrs. Aquino citing that “her work” also inspired such events as the “downfall of Communism” in eastern Europe and any other incidents framed by mainstream media as resistance against repressive regimes.

The media, however, seems to be mixed about what were the long term repercussions of the immediate post-Marcos era on the current socio-political conditions of Philippine society. For starters her Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which aimed to tackle one of the main problems of Philippine society, the landowning elite’s stranglehold on the livelihood of poor peasants, did little to nothing relieve the misery of the majority of Philippine people.

Despite what may initially have been genuine intentions to better balance the inequality between the haves and have-nots and to reform the corruption of the Philippine government which had been all the more exacerbated by the Marcos’ dictatorship, President Aquino could not single-handedly upend the root problems of Philippine society. Aquino may have had the best of intentions, but even she was a member of the landowning elite and did not dare to stand against the interests of her own class background.

The CARP issued worthless scraps of paper upon which were written empty promises of land ownership and still left peasants landless at the hands of greedy landlords and without a true source of livelihood. Outrage over the ineffectiveness of the CARP led to farmer and peasant demonstrations in Manila by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Movement of Philippine Peasants).

Mendiola Massacre January 22, 1987

Mendiola Massacre: January 22, 1987

When the demonstrators decided to march to Malacañang Palace in order to bring their demands directly to Aquino units of the Integrated National Police, the Philippine Marine Corps, and a phalanx of army trucks and firetrucks met the over 10,000 strong demonstration. The clashes between the police escalated to the point where police and military fired live ammunition in the crowd murdering over a dozen people and injuring scores more. The most striking facts about the Mendiola Massacre is that it happened even less than a year after Aquino took power not to mention that Time Magazine had also named Aquino its Woman of the Year for 1986. (Well, Time also put Ferdinand Marcos on the cover in October of 1966 with the tagline “Two Decades of Independence in Asia.” haha funny.) The massacre has a served as a glaring reminder to Filipinos that regardless of who is in the power, if the corruption of Philippine government and inequality of Philippine society remain intact than the Philippines will continue to be plagued by poverty and suffering.

The legacy of Mrs. Aquino should be considered as a complex one inasmuch as the fact that despite many of the terrible failures of her presidency, she does in fact remain an icon of the Philippine peoples’ aspirations to end dictatorship and corruption.

Even during her last years she was willing to publicly criticize the regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for its corruption and election fraud. Tita Cory may not have been “People Power’s Philippine Saint” as Time Magazine has canonized her, but she will always be one of the more dynamic figures of Philippine history.

Fil-Ams protest VFA with actions in Los Angeles; don’t buy into Obama’s rhetoric of change when it comes to foreign policy

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

Los Angeles, CA — Filipino-Americans under the banners of two alliances — BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA — staged two strong actions demonstrating deep opposition to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a military pact between the US and Philippine governments that allow for the temporary basing of US military personnel in over 20 ports throughout the Philippines. The actions, one in front of the Philippine Consulate along Wilshire Boulevard and the other in front of the General Douglas MacArthur Statue in MacArthur Park, began and ended a historic weekend as the two alliances held their respective congresses at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center from Friday till Sunday, March 27-29. Continue reading