Learning Together, Growing Together

FiRE sisters and allies at the Educational Discussion Symposium, June 11, 2011

Dear FiRE sisters and allies,

Thank you so much for making the Educational Discussion Symposium on Saturday, June 11 at Hunter College a success!

For all of those who attended, we hope that you had an enriching, agitating, and empowering experience. Our morning session featured “Basic Women’s Orientation”, our intro course, which outlines the socio-historical and political condition of Filipino women in the Philippines and the U.S., AND “We DID Start the FiRE: How to Represent FiRE”, which helped us learn how to make speeches and write press releases that rep the militant Philippine women’s movement. In the afternoon session, we viewed a film called “Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves”. Afterwards, we discussed the Labor Export Policy of the Philippines, and the experiences of Overseas Filipino Workers, particularly Flor Contemplacion and her family.

For those of you who missed the ED Symposium, don’t worry! We have an exciting summer coming up, full of ED’s when we can continue to learn and grow together.

FiREd UP!!!: A Summer ED Series for FiRE members and allies.

Make-up session for “Basic Women’s Orientation”. Late JUNE or early JULY, TBD. ***IMPORTANT: It will be a “training for trainers”, or an opportunity for folks who have taken BWO before to learn how to facilitate it, and conduct the ED for folks who have yet to take this intro course. If you are interested in sharpening your facilitation skills OR if you haven’t taken this ED yet, please contact Jackie at fire.nyc@gmail.com.***

Track 1 (beginners) ED “Personal Migration/Migrante Orientation” JULY, TBD

Track 2 (advanced) ED “Philippine Society and Revolution: A Short Course” JULY, TBD

Please keep a look out for more announcements with details about the EDs!

Thank you again for attending the ED Symposium. If you would like to get more involved in FiRE’s Education Committee, a.k.a. Each One, Teach One, please contact Jackie! To find out how you can get involved in more FiRE activities, please contact Cris at fire.nyc@gmail.com.

Isang Bagsak!

BUY TICKETS FOR DIWANG PINAY: Kasaysayan sa Likod ng Babaeng Manggagawa, The Story Behind the Woman Worker

DIWANG PINAY: Kasaysayan sa Likod ng Babaeng Manggagawa
The Story Behind the Woman Worker

Sunday, March 6, 2011 – 2 pm and 7pm
and March 13, 2011 – 2 pm and 7pm

Hunter College-Lang Recital Hall
695 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10065

Since February 2010, a group of Filipino women across generations, both age and migration, have gathered weekly to create an original staged play about migration, family and resilience.  Diwang Pinay follows the story of Maria, a domestic worker in the NYC area who left the Philippines to support her family by migrating only to face challenges in a new city and figure out a way to survive. See the world through her eyes as a migrant and mother.
The process of creating this original work has bestowed a multigenerational group of Filipinas, immigrant and American-born, a unique experience to write, produce and direct stories about the lives of Filipino domestic workers living and working in New York City. This production is a collaboration between Kabalikat Domestic Worker Support Network, a program of the Philippine Forum and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)-Gabriela USA

Local Women Artists Combat Violence Through a Movement to Uncover Self-Expression


July 30, 2010

Reference: Irma Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), fire.nyc@gmail.com

Local Women Artists Combat Violence Through a Movement to Uncover Self-Expression

New York, NY – On Thursday, July 29, 2010, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), a grassroots Filipino women’s organization under the GABRIELA USA alliance, held its first gallery opening at Gallery 1199 of SEIU.  The exhibit showcased work produced by various women artists during FiRE’s new five-week art program, Movement to Uncover Self-Expression (MUSE.)  Through the generous support of the Bread and Roses Cultural Project, the MUSE program’s workshops invited women in the local New York metropolitan area from diverse racial, generational, and socioeconomic backgrounds and sexual orientations to discuss female identity and issues faced by women in a safe, nurturing, and creative space.

One hundred friends and family of the MUSE artists, and organizational supporters and allies filled the gallery space throughout the night.  “We really wanted to create a safe space where different women could explore their everyday life through art and I’m glad to see its product tonight in this gallery.  The women artists really connected and opened up dialogue about experiences they share,” said Arlene Rodrigo, Cultural Chair of FiRE and one of the teaching artists of MUSE.  Each week was dedicated to a different medium: collage, drawing, watercolor, poetry, and photography. Workshops were also led by Anna Sian and Sara Jimenez, with a guest appearance by Lolan Buhain Sevilla, all of whom are FiRE members.

Within the five weeks, the MUSE participants explored the various forms women experience violence in their lives, and learned more about GABRIELA USA’s nation-wide educational campaign “iVOW to Fight Violence Against Women” (iVOW.)  The iVOW campaign expands the definition of and awareness around violence against women, as well as create ways to combat its various forms in society.  An interactive installation titled “Unpacking Violence,” inspired by FiRE member Julie Jamora, featured the campaign’s Seven Deadly Sins Against Women. The installation featured seven balikbayan boxes (care packages commonly sent by Filipino migrants to family members left behind in the Philippines) each representing sex trafficking and prostitution; domestic violence; sexual harassment; rape, incest, and child abuse; sexual exploitation and discrimination; limited access to reproductive healthcare; and violence as a result of political repression.   “The iVOW campaign not only creates awareness around the physical, sexual, and emotional abuses as experienced by women,” said Irma Bajar, chairperson of FiRE, “but also points to effects created by government repression and economic migration.”

“We see the importance of a safe space like MUSE, which investigates how creative expression impacts society,” said Joseline Davila, Finance Chair of FiRE.  “Through a collective artistic process, we hope to show the intersections between the arts and political action, not only for our members, but for our entire community.”

FiRE members Amihan and Mona taking vows to fight violence against women

MUSE Gallery Exhibition

"Unpacking Violence" installation inspired by FiRE member Julie Jamora

FiRE members and MUSE Teaching Artists - Arlene, Anna, Sara



Filipino Women in NYC Share Stories, Strength, and Vows to Fight Violence Against Women

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2010

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chair, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)-GABRIELA USA, fire.nyc@gmail.com, 925-726-5768

Filipino Women in NYC Share Stories, Strength, and Vows to Fight Violence Against Women
3rd Annual Pinay Herstories in NYC ——

New York, NY–On April 22, 2010, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) held its annual Pinay HERstories at Bluestockings Bookstore on the Lower East Side, Manhattan. The well-attended event, part of GABRIELA USA’s national showcase, explored the Filipina experience through personal narratives, focusing on the important and often-silenced issue of violence against women.

During the event, audience members participated by reading aloud the seven categories of violence against women and children GABRIELA USA is highlighting in their campaign “iVow to Fight Violence Against Women”– sex trafficking and prostitution, domestic violence, rape, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and exploitation, limited access to reproductive health care, and violence as a result of political repression. An impressive lineup of Pinay performers from New York, New Jersey, Seattle, California, and the Philippines gave voice and depth to these issues sharing their experiences through poetry, music, and spoken word.

CUNY Hunter student and a first time performer, Rosalyn Jimenez, shared a poem about the disgust and shame that she feels when she is harassed by men in the street. Kristine Juntura, a 17-year old student at Archbishop Molloy High School, performed an emotional piece about a story of a friend who was in an abusive relationship. Joanna Mariano, another 15-year old high school student, dedicated a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” to any woman who has ever felt insignificant or weak, reminding us that we are all beautiful.

“Although this year’s theme was a bit more serious than past years, it also featured the cultural and creative work of young Filipinas which showed the audience and our community that it is important to talk about this important issue with our younger sisters, siblings and children,” Jackie Mariano, one of the organizers of the event stated.

Laurel Fantauzzo took us back through time in a funny yet poignant nonfiction essay, as she tried to make sense of the history of violence in her family that has been passed down from mother to mother. Maria Avetria and FiRE members Hanalei Ramos and Melanie Dulfo also performed, sharing poetry that directly pointed to globalism and militarism as main factors that have forced many Filipinas into prostitution.

Valerie Francisco, FiRE’s chairperson, extended an invitation to the audience to become more involved in their communities especially on the issue of violence. She noted that Gabriela Women’s Party in the upcoming Philippine elections will be raising this issue at the forefront of their campaign and that our work echoes the brave women who are blazing trails in stopping violence against women in such a patriarchal culture. Francisco reminded the audience that everyone in the audience can take a stand as well, “Exploitation of undocumented workers and ICE raids in our community is violence too! Let’s take a stand together on May 1st, we ask you to march for genuine U.S. immigration reform at Union Square!”

A surprise performance by representatives of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, Jen Awingan and Jill Carino, who are participating at the annual UN Forum on Indigenous People, engaged the audience through an indigenous song and dance in Ilocano. Rogue Pinay of 1st Quarter Storm closed the night off with poetry, interpretive dance, and hip-hop. Her work addressed violence against women in a global, capitalist context. Audience members moved and danced while shouting, “Makibaka, huwag matakot!” along with the hip-hop artist. The night concluded on an energetic note, as audience members and performers alike shouted their participation in the “iVOW” campaign.

On its 3rd run of Pinay Herstories, the audience and FiRE members are reminded of how important and significant all women creative spaces and events are to bring to light the issues that are pressing in their lives. The event brought violence into the center of the dialogue and encouraged the audience to take up violence as a community issue, not just an individual problem. “We need to keep talking about violence against women and children. We need to keep creating spaces that empower women and put their stories in the forefront,” Mariano continued.

Pinay HERstories is a part of GABRIELA-USA’s national campaign to end violence against women. “iVOW to Fight VAW” is a comprehensive campaign that addresses violence against women as issues of sex trafficking and prostitution, domestic violence, rape, incest, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and exploitation, limited access to reproductive health care, and violence as a result of political repression. The campaign, which launched in February 2010, urges people to take a stand and commit to ending violence against women.

Join FiRE on May Day!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
12:00pm – 4:00pm
UNION SQUARE 14th St. & Broadway, Manhattan

“iVOW to Fight VAW” @ CUNY Hunter College

As a part of GABRIELA-USA’s campaign to fight violence against women (VAW), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) participated in CUNY Hunter College’s V-Day Fair, a space that addresses and combats violence against women. Thank you to the Women and Gender Studies Program at Hunter for organizing the event!!!

Here is a compilation of the Hunter community’s VOW to fight VAW.