D.C. Teachers Victims of Human Trafficking Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 18, 2013

References:
Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com
Nicole Cunanan, Vice Chair of Propaganda & Cultural Affairs, GABRIELA Washington, D.C., Nicole@gabrieladc.org

GABRIELA USA Exposes Human Trafficking Scheme at the Nation’s Capital on International Migrants Day

WASHINGTON—On Dec. 18, 2013, International Migrants Day, GABRIELA USA, an alliance of Filipina women’s organizations across the United States, stands with the GABRIELA Washington, D.C. chapter to expose the trafficking of teachers from the Philippines to the U.S.

Since 2003, the Philippine-based labor recruitment agency, Renaissance Staffing Support Center (formerly known as Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc. and World Goal Corporation) represented by its president, Isidro Rodriguez and its U.S. partner Green Life Care International, LLC have been trafficking teachers to the U.S. The agency promised applicants high salaried jobs with benefits in public schools in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. It also promised them housing and transportation. Applicants were required to attend various expensive seminars and pay excessive fees to successfully secure H1B visas. Teachers paid between $18,000 to over $20,000 for the entire process. In many cases, their passports were held until they submitted the entire fee amount and were not returned until their departure for the U.S.

When teachers arrived to the U.S., their promised jobs did not exist, leaving them to fend for themselves.

 Some teachers have even reported that recruitment-agency owner Rodriguez also committed various acts of sexual harassment against female teachers and asked for sexual favors in exchange for papers. If victims voiced concerns or went against the recruiter, they were threatened to be deported or told that their families will be harmed.

“This illegal recruitment and trafficking scheme made us suffer in slave-like conditions and in debt bondage. We sacrificed so much just to try to support our families back home and we are still trying to survive day-to-day,” stated Ma. Fen Ecleo, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington, D.C. and one of the trafficking victims.

 “This situation with the teachers is not an isolated case, and is an example of a larger systemic problem in the Philippines,” says Tina Shauf, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA USA. GABRIELA USA demands that the Philippine government ensure that true justice is delivered to the the teachers as they pursue legal cases against Rodriguez and Renaissance Staffing Support Center. Rodriguez should be jailed for the crimes he has committed and the teachers should get full compensation for debts. GABRIELA USA also demands that the teachers get T visas, as human trafficking victims, so they can continue to work and live in the US without fear of deportation. We call on the Filipino community and our allies to support the teachers’ ongoing legal cases in both the Philippines and the U.S.

 “The Philippine government hails the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as “Modern Heroes” and yet in their time of need, the OFWs are treated with apathy,” said Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA DC. “Workers’ remittances to the country keep the economy afloat but the government fails to address the concerns and well-being of distressed OFWs.”

 On the occasion of International Migrants Day, aside from recognizing the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide, GABRIELA USA calls on the Philippine government not only to respond to the problems of migrant workers in the host countries, but to also address the root causes of migration which is poverty and underdevelopment in the Philippines.

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GABRIELA USA is a grassroots-based alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the United States seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people.

While we vigorously campaign on women-specific issues such as women’s rights, gender discrimination, violence against women and women’s health and reproductive rights, GABRIELA USA also addresses national and international economic and political issues that affects Filipino women.
GABRIELA USA is an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, and is a member organization of BAYAN USA and the International Women’s Alliance.

Want to go on EXPO 2012? Let FiRE know by February 2012!

Hear the stories FIRST-HAND of a movement millions of women strong by going to

GABRIELA-USA’s Summer EXPO 2012!

If you’re AT ALL interested, please fill out the attached questionnaire
and email to fire.nyc

Prep sessions begin mid-February, 2012.

For the past four years, GABRIELA USA members have participated in Exposure Trips to the Philippines. During these expos, members have integrated with GABRIELA-Philippines, the national alliance of progressive grassroots women organizations of the National Democratic movement for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines.

Exposure Trips build the organizing capacity and cultural understanding of U.S.-based participants who are focused on organizing Filipino communities. An Exposure Trip allows participants to experience the concrete conditions of the Philippines by immersing them in local organizations and communities under the GABRIELA alliance.

Past exposurists have planted rice with farmers, spent a day as students at universities, organized cultural nights with indigenous groups, shared analysis of LGBTQ issues, discovered the partylist system by speaking with progressive partylist representatives, experienced the struggle of urban poor families, and participated in rallies and mobilizations against militarization, human rights abuses, corrupt governance, and U.S. intervention.
Most importantly, exposurists learn from GABRIELA women how they arouse, organize, and mobilize their respective communities for genuine social change against socio-economic marginalization and bring these lessons back to the Filipina community they serve in the U.S.

This is an exclusive opportunity for women who are members of any GABRIELA-USA organization: babaeSF (San Francisco), Filipinas for Rights and Empowement (New York City), Pinay sa Seattle (Seattle), SAMAKA (San Francisco), and Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken! (Los Angeles)

Expo programs typically occur in the month of July, but will be finalized based on participant schedules.

For more information, please visit this page: https://firenyc.wordpress.com/our-programs/phils-exposure-program/

GABUSA – Individual Expo Application.doc

Stories from the Global 99%: Fil-am Women Share Stories from Mass Movement & Recent Exposure Trip in the Philippines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2011

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

 

Stories from the Global 99%: Fil-am Women Share Stories from Mass Movement & Recent Exposure Trip in the Philippines

 

In 2011, six women from the NY-based GABRIELA USA organization, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC), traveled to the Philippines on an exposure and integration program with Gabriela Philippines. The women, Hanalei Ramos, Candice Sering, Jennine Ventura, Zarah Vinola, Julie Jamora, and Krystle Cheirs, had one major goal in mind: to experience first-hand what the MASS MOVEMENT is like in the Philippines, and bring back what they learned to their community in the United States. On Monday, November 21, 2011, FiRE will host a special report-back from 7:00pm-9:00pm at the International Action Center’s Solidarity Center (55 W. 17th Street, Suite 5 C).

 

“We want people in New York to feel the dynamism of the National Democratic Movement in the Philippines,” stated Candice Sering, FiRE’s Cultural Director. “It was also important that we pay tribute to the organizers and communities that we met in a creative way.” The event will include interactive elements (guerilla theater, sound installation, and visual arts), traditional Filipino street foods, and stories. FiRE has also made it possible to view the event live via UStream.tv, a live-streaming Internet site, for those who are abroad (both nationally and internationally) but wish to support the event. “Our friends and fellow organizers in the Philippines can’t physically be here, but we wanted them to be able to share in the telling of their stories, so we’ll set up a live-stream,” stated Hanalei Ramos, who served as team leader for the summer trip.

 

In the wake of a global economic crisis and the worldwide Occupy people-led movement (including Occupy Philippines), FiRE is drawing connections to the people-powered National Democratic Movement in the Philippines. “By sending our members to the Philippines for an extended period of time, they witness and experience first-hand the concrete conditions that the basic masses, the real 99% of the Philippines, are living under every day,” said Jackie Mariano, Vice Chairperson of FiRE. “Most importantly, they learn how the masses have organized themselves to take action to build a brighter future.” The report-back will shed light on the daily injustices committed in the Philippines and the ways in which Filipinos are responding, challenging and changing the system.

 

For more information on Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment and the Exposure & Integration Program, visit http://firenyc.org.

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EDUCATE. ORGANIZE. MOBILIZE.

A Reportback brought to you by FiRE

 

MONDAY NOV 21, 2011

International Action Center Solidarity Center

55 West 17th Street, Suite 5C

NY, NY

8PM-10PM, doors open at 7:30PM. (Please note the time change!!)

For live-streaming: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/fire-nyc

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!

GABRIELA-USA Celebrates 2 Year Anniversary and Milestones in Building Filipino Women’s Power

For Immediate Release

March 29, 2011

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, chair@gabusa.org

GABRIELA-USA Celebrates 2 Year Anniversary and Milestones

in Building Filipino Women’s Power

Launch of iVOW Campaign, International Women’s Alliance, and

Freedom for Morong 43 Amongst their Successes in 2010

Seattle– On March 26, 2011, five member organizations of Gabriela USA, Samahan ng  Kababaihan (SAMAKA) and BABAE San Francisco, Pinay sa Seattle, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) New York and Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw) Los Angeles came together to hold their second National Chapter Council meeting to assess their accomplishments in 2010 and plan their advancement for the next year.

National Chapter Council members represented their organizations of Filipino women who consist of mothers, working women, professionals, and students. The National Council reviewed their organizational growth in 2010 and their main campaign IVOW v. VAW (Violence Against Women), which reached and moved hundreds of women in their homes, schools, and communities–  to pledge to raise their voices against the the different forms of violence inflicted on women.

On March 29, 2011, GABRIELA-USA across the U.S. celebrates their 2 year anniversary and the successes of the last year which include:

  • Successful Launch of IVOW vs. VAW (Violence Against Women) in 4 Major Cities in the U.S.
  • 33% growth in membership and formation of SAMAKA- an association of Filipina mothers, elders, and working women
  • Mobilizing over 50 members and allies to the Montreal International Women’s Conference held in August 2010

Forwarding a truly internationalist perspective in building sisterhood and solidarity across the globe, GABRIELA USA was instrumental in organizing the Montreal International Women’s Conference (MIWC) and the formation of the International Women’s Alliance in Canada and also participated in the International Alliance of Migrants and Refugees activities in Mexico.  GABRIELA members throughout the U.S. also joined with other community organizations and alliances in protesting the wrongful detention of the Morong 43 in the Philippines, half of which were women.

In 2011, GABRIELA USA will be launching a national research project on the situation and issues of Filipino women in the US, continuing their IVOW campaign, and focusing on the growth and expansion of their alliance.  This summer, GABRIELA-USA will be sending delegates to the First General Assembly of the International Women’s Alliance which will be held in Manila, Philippines.  GABRIELA’s next General Assembly will be in March 2012.

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