Resistance That Radiates: 25 Years of Filipina Women’s Movement Passes the Torch to NYC Pinays

Diwang Pinay FIRE GABRIELA USA 2009
Resistance That Radiates: 25 Years of Filipina Women’s Movement Passes the Torch to NYC Pinays

New York, NY–Over the past few months, Filipino women from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), a progressive women’s organization serving in the New York/ New Jersey area, have been organizing and preparing to put on a celebration that would be strong and bold enough to honor 25 years of GABRIELA Philippines’ struggle, advances and continuing work. This year’s second annual “Diwang Pinay” (literally translated in Tagalog as “Spirit of the Filipina”) had a special bearing on the sisters of FiRE as they recently participated in the founding of a GABRIELA in the US. The theme, “Ilaw Ng Bayan” or “Light of the Nation,” carried a significant meaning as performers and artists offered their art in the name of the women who light the way towards change.

And on one of the first summery Spring nights in New York, Diwang Pinay lived up to it’s word, with 200 people in attendance, GABRIELA was certainly celebrated in high form. Highlighting the work of Filipina artists and performers, the night boasted a range of talents and creative artistry on stage. Debuting at their first Diwang Pinay, members of KABALIKAT Workers Support Network, a project of Philippine Forum, opened the show with a “Carinosa,” a traditional Filipino folk dance.Lovella Rose and L. Capco Lincoln from a multimedia artist group called Tatlo Mestiz@s based out of Philadelphia screened a powerful film about Filipino American migration and history, followed by a poetry piece.

Rona Figueroa, who has performed in four Broadway productions, serenaded the crowd with a stunning acoustic set from her self-released albums, Quasilulu and Quasilulu 2. Binky Bianca, a pop/rock/power pop band from Jersey City, performed for a second time on the Diwang stage. As the night unfolded, the audience enjoyed film screenings from Emmelle Israel and Bernadette Ellorin and performances from Danielle Parish, Hanalei Ramos and Laurel Fantauzzo. Lastly, the night closed with a performance piece called, “Ritual” from the FiRE Kultural Kollective.

Simultaneous to stage performances, Arlene Rodrigo, a visual artist, completed a live art piece of a mother and child which was auctioned off at the end of the night. The silent auction held concurrently displayed 50 or more visual art pieces from 27 artists.

“We wanted to celebrate our history of strength and resistance through the work of GABRIELA for the past 25 years,” Valerie Francisco, chair of FiRE stated, “But it was also important to us to celebrate the struggle and resilience of Pinays right here in our community. Diwang Pinay was the night to bring those flames of power together.”

In the wake of Lcpl. Daniel Smith’s acquittal and swift return to the US, Diwang Pinay shed light on the unjust ruling and the importance of unity for the women’s struggle both in the Philippines and abroad. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), rulings like this prove that US-Philippine relations undermine justice, not only for Nicole, victim of Smith’s rape, but also for the thousands of Filipinos that fall victim to US militarization.

“Now more than ever, the fire of struggle must continue to burn bright. And where there is injustice from New York to Manila, there will be those of us who keep our light radiant towards genuine change in the Philippines and for the Filipino people,” Francisco concluded.



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