U.S. Military Aggression breeds American Hatred:100,000 protests the U.S. Okinawan Base in Japan

29 04 2010

April 25th 2010, Japan: 100,000 protests the U.S. military base in Okinawa.  The protesters want the current Prime Minister to keep his promise to voters that he force the U.S. military off Japan and the base off Okinawa.  The Japanese have longed been hostile toward the stationing of American soldiers and the massive base on Japanese soil.  The U.S. Base in Okinawa hosts over 47,000 American Troops.

Protesters participate in a mass rally against a US base in Ginowan on Okinawa

U.S. troops have been accused of raping a Filipina in Okinawa back in 2008.  Near the same time, there was another Japanese 14 year old girl who was raped by a U.S. soldier which brought back the same horrible memories of the 12 year old girls raped in 1995 by U.S. soldiers.

Also in S. Korea, where 14,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed, a 19 year old Korean girl was raped while in 2007, 6 U.S. soldiers were arrested for beating down a girl and another soldier arrested for raping a 67 year old Korean girl.

It seems ridiculous right?  How many cases are still unreported because the victims are scared.  This is exactly what traditional military presence breeds-women are victims to superpower nations like the United States.  While women from many countries where the United States stations itself are likely victims due to wars of aggression, military dumping, rape and threats and physical violence, U.S. soldiers justify their presence as protecting American citizens.  Many see the U.S. as policing the world from global terrorists.

The U.S. people need to wake up and look in the mirror.  They won’t like what they see, who they’ve become.

In the Philippines, the people kicked the U.S. military base in 1995 but then President Estrada signed the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allows U.S. personal to train Armed forces of the Philippines under a suppose “mutual” agreement.

However, with U.S. troops now engaged in armed military operations, the people of the Philippines are once again threatened. Victims like Nicole who was raped by Smith of the U.S. military who was tried and convicted for 40 years was acquitted by buying off Nicole’s testimony and a free ride to the United States.  It is not Nicole who we should be mad at but the perpetrators of the same crimes.  The people seek justice for these crimes and seek a real leader willing to go after all corrupt officials and uphold national sovereignty.

The Balikatan Exercises which is a joint military exercise operation between the U.S. military and the Armed Forces of the Philippines has expanded from the Bicol Visayas region to the Ilocos region in Northern Philippines.  Some of these operations have seen the harassment, hamletting, and violence toward rural communities.  In fact, because the people have nothing to gain, there is no mutual aspect to the contract except between the American capitalists securing their resources and the corrupt officials who stand to benefit from the reaping of profits.

It is time that we recognize the impact of military forces who do not protect the interest of the people.  It is time we demand the removal os U.S. troops and bases as the Japanese and Filipinos have done already.  For Americans, we need to make sure that we educate each other about how military aggressions breeds more resistance to the American hatred.  If we are to foster into a peaceful future, we need to start now.

Roll back the U.S. military budget, bring the troops back home and fund Education and Health Care!





Taiwan Indigenous Peoples: 2nd Class Citizens

29 04 2010

During my first exposure trip to the Philippines in the summer of 2007, I met some Taiwanese exposurists with the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in Tabuk, Kalinga.  Through our short conversations and laughter we learned so much about each others culture, the differences and similarities.

We would find ourselves over the years in the same rooms or activities having those same conversations.  In Hong Kong 2009 during the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS) Assembly, they allowed me to dance and sing their Indigenous customs.  We reconnected the following year in 2009 before the decentralized Cordi Days.  They had cooked delicious meal for all the staff in the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) office.  In 2010, the Taiwanese came back with 25 other delegates from different Tribes in Taiwan to learn about how CPA spearheaded the disaster relief and prevention programs in far flung Indigenous Communities with the Cordillera Admistraion Region.

The Taiwanese delegates shared how similar their struggles are to all IPs around the world:  the colonists came and ruled over them.  Today, the government of Taiwan uses the calamities from the Typhoon Disasters as reasons to displace the IPs and “integrate” them into Taiwan modern society.

Only 2% of the population is Indigenous while the majority 98% are Han Chinese.

Indigenous People of Taiwan

During Cordi Day 2010, I had the chance to understand the issues of the many tribes from Taiwan.  Their struggle today is to promote the preservation of not just their culture about their tribe.  They are no longer confronting the government alone-they are seeking each other out, finding other tribes people who are willing to stand for the Indigenous People.  They are learning from the rich history of the Cordillera Indigenous People’s struggle against land-grabbing, large scale mining, forced displacement, discrimination, and much more.

Climate Change is a real issue affecting Indigenous People around the world.  Many tribes in Taiwan and the Cordillera face the cruel reality forced upon by the advancing of capitalist nations emitting the greenhouse gases that destroy the O-Zone layer, allowing the sun able to penetrate causing the warming of the planet and in some cases, more natural disasters including floods, typhoons, and droughts.

Their will to educate and fight for a better future for all IPs should be emulated by governments all over the world who genuinely care about Indigenous People.  We should emulate the delegates in striving to go beyond our day to day lives to learn about the issues and fight for what is just and what is right.





China, 2nd to U.S. in Billionaires

17 04 2010

China, April 17th – Communist Capitalist China now has a total of 64 Billionaires in Mainland China, more than any other country besides the United States according to Forbes Magazine.

Since Deng Xiao Peng hijacked the helm in China’s Dictatorship of the Proletariat, he has mapped out a full plan to restore capitalism while paying socialism lip service- undoing the programs and campaigns of Mao Zedong’s cultural revolution as well the Great Leap Forward.

China - July 2009, Tonghua Steel Workers StrikerThe Cultural Revolution that allowed China to promote a popular culture of collectivity over individualism was decimated through time.  China would lose worker’s and peasant’s rights through the years and use the iconic people’s army to guard private industries against its own people.  As worker’s and peasant’s rights were plowed over for capital gains that has created a new threat to China’s people, strikes would blaze through the country such as last year’s Tongua Iron Steel Plant Strike where a manager fired its worker only to be beaten to death.  The boss who sent the manager was the 10th richest man in China.

Slogans like “Serve the People” meant to get intellectuals and Professionals to fully integrate their work to help the people are rarely practiced.  China is the new rising capitalist country ready to vie for power and resources against the current dominant United States.

As countries like China and United States duke it out to secure resources, costly wars will be averted with industrialize nations, however, nations such as Iraq, Palestine, India, and the Philippines will be used as battle grounds to absorb as much resource and profits as possible.

When countries like the United States go in deep recessions, all satellite colonies will be affected.  The only way to afford these costly wars of aggression, is to maintain the class struggle

China’s current rhetoric to make “our society fairer and more harmonious” is playing to deaf ears.  Since the fall of both the Great Leap Forward (Industrializing the Nation for social welfare) and the Cultural Revolution (promoting scientific mass orientated culture over individualism and profit) there has been no gains to democratic socialism in China and instead modern revisionism which has lead China to abandon socialism and follow the path of capitalism.

Strikes will continue to blaze through China, and the rich will continue to get rich while the poor suffer.  We have to remember there is always hope.





International Women’s Day

9 03 2010

I know I’m hella late to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) however, I’m a firm believer that we should not just wait for one day or month to celebrate IWD or Black History Month (BHM); To do so would be to tokenize the struggle that came to recognize the legacy of past.

IWD is  a hundred years old.  IWD is more than a day to say the genders are still not equal.  IWD is more than a day to say thank you to all the women that means something in your life or the famous or popular women in history and today (Oprah Winfred, Jackie Kennedy, Magaret Thatcher, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and so on…)

This day symbolizes a hundred  years of resistance and fight.  It started out as a fight to improve 1st world women’s struggle to have the right to vote like their male counterparts.  Women for years have been fighting before IWD for the same rights men receive.  In fact, even before Feudal and Captialistic societies, some societies were matriarchal (women held power over men in these societies).

Through the century, many struggles were fought on many fronts to grant women more rights such as equal wages or right to hold jobs that were exclusive to men.  Growing up, I didn’t know women weren’t allowed to wear pants or jeans in the United States.  In San Francisco, the first 2 women police women were recruited out of 20 women in the 1970s.  The two women were harrassed in the department for along time before one of them quit.

Today, although women are allowed to hold many of the same jobs in the United States, wages are still an issue.  According to the International Labor Organization, women make less than 75 cents for every dollar men make.  Women also have a harder time getting employed because of gender preferences.  Less than 50% of women are working for a wage around the world.

For 3rd world women and poor women, the struggle adds another layer.  Many Religions and Beliefs around the world condemn the poor for having children.  This is also a form of blaming the poor for being poor when simply their root problem is that they are exploited and that their state of being poor is a symptom of a rotten system in society.  In the United States, some doctors before the 1960s performed illegal operations off sterilizing Black and Latino women asking for an abortion. Instead of pointing the finger on Capitalism and its form of exploitation, politician and business men point the finger on the churches and the poor; They point the fingers at the church for not allowing contraceptions and point their fingers at the poor for having children and thereby worsening their own economic situation.

Despite all the attacks on women, women have been resilient especially those who are poor.  Together, when women raise their voices together they have become a force that can not be ignored.

GABRIELA USA launched iVOW on the centennial of IWD.  According to GABRIELA USA press statement, “On March 6, 2010, GABRIELA USA participated in the World March of Women, joining women from over fifty countries to stand for women’s rights. In the Philippines, over 200 women’s organizations are mobilizing with GABRIELA, sacrificing a day’s wages to demand human rights and a pro-people women’s voice in government.  The calls for the World March of Women are resisting poverty, militarization and violence against women.”

GABRIELA USA, an alliance of Filipino women’s organizations in the United States, marched with women around the world to call for all communities to take a vow to fight violence against women and children.

“In the US, the reach of the economic crisis affects not only women’s worsening work conditions, or skyrocketing unemployment and financial instability, but is also seen in the exacerbation of domestic violence. Recent studies show rising stress over economic problems resulting in rising rates in reported domestic violence cases. Simultaneously, the budgets for domestic violence services and shelters are being cut back, most notably in California where statewide funds have been completely withdrawn. The attack on women is three fold, in their workplaces, their homes and even by the state,” the statement concluded.

Happy International Women’s Day, to all the martyrs who have fought for women’s rights and to all those men who stood side by side with women and their struggle, we honor you all.  Onward with the struggle, it does not stop with the liberation of women but the complete freedom of all marginalize in society!





Land is Life

21 04 2009

Land is life.  If you take it away, is it not the same as dying? Then why not die for your land?

(pictures to come soon)

Before shopping for laundry soap and chinelas, I had the taxi drop me off in front fo the House of Representatives in Manila.  In front of the gate, on both sides, Members of BAYAN-ST (New Patriotic Alliance in Southern Tagalog, Amihan (National federation of Peasant Women), KMP (Peasant movement in the Philippines, and  Kasama TK (The Southern Tagalog regional peasant organization of KMP)  had set up a protest camp.

The protest camp was built relatively quick on April 13th.  Within 15 minutes both sides of the camp was built like a treehouse-slim tall logs held the structure up as strips of garbage bags were used to tie the logs that held the structure up with the tarps that acted as the roof.

As I arrived to the Camp, I was greeted with smiles from youth to elders.  Their hands were rough from working the Palay fields (rice fields).  Their clothes were very simple, some with holes and some faded.  They spoke of why they set up camp and what they hope to accomplish.

I had the opportunity to interview different peasant leaders, many of them were women.  Nanay Carmen shared her life with me through gestures of her body, limited and broken english, but mostly in tagalog and kapampagan. From the beginning her eyes water.  I can see my reflection gazing into her eyes.  She is the daughter of small peasants.  After finishing elementary school she was forced to watch the carabaos on her family farm although she prefered to continue her education.

Nanay Carmen also shared with me the struggles that peasants face. Their livelihood taken away as they face poverty while those who exploit them profit off the peasants’ labor.  Nanay Carmen helps peasant women organize to fight for their right to livelihood.  Most of the peasant women who struggle come to her for help. Her story is not unique-many share her story-the majority of the Filipino people are landless, some gave up hope and others’ fight back like Ninay.  She is fierce and passionate that one day her people will be free from oppression.

I was intending to only stay for 1 hour in the camp-just to say Hello and catch-up however my stay ended up to be 9 hours.  The peasants wanted to ask me questions but they do not know how… We tried to communicate with simple language but there was frustrations from both sides.. Read the rest of this entry »





Overcoming Debt and Analyzing Capitalism

9 04 2009

studentdebtCredit Card companies love college students for the sole reason that students get thrown a lot of responsibility to become an adult- why not prey on those students who only in yesteryear was just begging mom and dad for a new car, that iphone, and even that xbox 360.

 

Less than 2 years ago, I had accrued a debt of more than $9,000 primarily from placing my college tuition on my Chase Manhattan Credit Card.  Yes, this was fiscal irresponsibility, I could have taken loans out from school however I did not know the options.  I was desperate to stay and finish school that I did what most students with no money do, borrow.  In this case, I borrowed from my credit company and within several months I found myself behind on payments.  Many students, especially those of working class are generally not shown their options because many do not attend university tracked schools where resources are available to help students get into their preferred college and financial assistance is at hand.  

I did not know how to handle the pressures of debt and instead of consulting a financial advisor or ask family members for help, I decided to consult my friend, the bottle or as Ka Mabait would say, “poison”.  The bottle was how I escaped from the reality of my situation and in fact, that’s how many escape as well.  At this point the credit card company was coming after me for the slow payments.  

 

After becoming more and more depressed over the lingering fact that  the holes in my pocket just kept getting deeper and, my kasamas from the League of Filipino Students had a small intervention with the way I was living.  I took their suggestion and asked my mom if she would allow me back under her roof and she did willingly.  Next I called the credit card companies to see if I could work out a deal with them.  They were more than happy to work out a deal because most of the time they do not get their full payment even after taking people to court.  I planned on paying back $600 a month for about 15 months.  

 

Lucky for me, I had kasamas who had my back and a solid plan to get my ass back in reality instead of the wrong side of the bottle.  The League of Filipino Students did more than get me out of debt, they helped with providing the analysis and model of capitalism. 

 

As the world’s economy plunges because of the unstable U.S. economy, one has to wonder why that is.  The elites, the ones who hold the power and money have us to believe that our economy was fine for the past decade when in fact, it was already falling apart.  

Read the rest of this entry »