KONY 2012 Supporters Have Been Duped

I wrote an article on Kony and Uganda, and as of this writing, its received 400 shares and 17,000 views!  Thank you so much for making this piece viral!!!!  SAY NO TO U.S. intervention in Uganda! #stopkony #kony2012

KONY 2012 Supporters Have Been Duped @ PolicyMic


For more articles about the Ugandan oil strike, China’s growing influence in the region, and the U.S. troop deployment to Uganda click the following links:

The Malcolm X Speeches You Must Know

Here’s a slideshow I created for PolicyMic on the 47th death anniversary of Malcolm X.

The 5 Malcolm X Speeches You Must Know

Earlier this month, a Brown University student uncovered a lost Malcolm X speech in the university archives, reintroducing the internet feeds to one of the most courageous Civil Rights leaders in U.S. history. While February 21st marks the 47 years since Malcolm X’s death, it is surprising how a number of his speeches are still relevant to our current conditions. Because of Malcolm X’s monumental impact in U.S. history, these are the five Malcolm X speeches you absolutely must know.

A Valentine’s Day Protest Review

120214 Alabama HB56 protest - AP

Valentine's Day Alabama HB56 Protest - courtesy of AP

While you were spending an average of  $116.21 on a Valentine’s Day gift , others celebrated love by participating in mass demonstrations across the world.

Of course, many of these groups capitalized on the theme of love.  Same-sex couples rallied in Virginia demand marriage certificates in Fairfax, Arlington, and Richmond county, knowing that they would be denied.

Also, with HB 56 up for review in Alabama, hundreds of immigrants and supporters protested at the Alabama Statehouse courtyard to urge Governor Bentley for a full repeal to gauge whether the governor truly cared for the issues of Alabama’s immigrant community.

However, while many look forward to Valentine’s Day, an equal number oppose the “indecency” associated with it.  Countries outside the United States coordinated mass actions to protest the day.  Men in Karachi burned Valentines and heart-shaped signs, while students in Indonesia marched to denounce the Day for “ruining the young generation of Muslims.”

In the U.S., Occupy Wall Street resurfaced, and members of OWS went to break up with Bank of America in New York City, while the Occupy Movement  in Honolulu stood its ground during a showdown with police at Thomas Square.

Notable anniversaries were also celebrated on Valentine’s Day.  Wisconsin reunited to celebrate the 17 day occupation of the Capitol by Wisconsin workers in 2011.

Also, in the international arena, the hacker group, Anonymous, committed an act of solidarity for the people of Bahrain.  To commemorate the year since the teargas attacks during the country’s democratic uprising Anonymous overpowered the website of Jamestown-based Combined Systems Inc., who manufactured the tear gas used in Bahrain last year.

About a year after the Arab Spring, it seems the spirit of the protester remains in the hearts of people all over the world.  As a society, we are learning to straddle that delicate balance between our understandings of love and justice.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  I see the truth of that quote manifested in the peoples struggles listed above.

Thank you to all those who challenge and defend love and justice in their lives.  Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

Guest spot at PolicyMic.com

Hey, y’all!  I wrote a little something for the website, PolicyMic.com .  Let me know what you think by leaving comments here, or at the article.  Sign up for a free account today to interact with other site authors, and post articles of your own! 🙂

PETA Should Stop Using Sexual Innuendo to Attract More to Their Cause – A new, attention-grabbing PETA commercial uses the shock and awe of sexual imagery to dazzle the public into agreement, instead of tying its campaign to the burgeoning food justice movement.

On the 25 Years Since the Mendiola Massacre

Photo of a survivor crawling from the Mendiola Massacre amidst bodies and debris. From Dino Doliente's album

We left Honolulu for the Philippines in 1986 after the People Power Movement ousted Marcos, to live in my grandmother’s home in Sucat,Paranaque.  My parents, whose student visas expired as doctoral candidates at the University of Hawaii, headed back to Manila on a PANAM flight wearing matching yellow t-shirts to celebrate the democracy Cory Aquino represented.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in kindergarten at UP South School in BF Homes, Paranaque when the  Mendiola Massacre  occurred on January 22, 1987.  While police bullets were showered into a crowd of unarmed farmers at the lip of Malacañang Palace, I was protected by the walls of my subdivision.  We lived an average middle-class life in Metro Manila, I guess.   I didn’t know that much about my mother’s province other than there was a time she lived.  I knew that my great-grandparents were English teachers.  That my great-grandfather had land, and then lost it somehow.  I knew that my mother was born in Iriga (which I thought was a province in itself until I was 16), and then she and her family move to Naga, where they had a sari-sari store. There was a limitation on the Bicolano she retained.  Whenever I saw my grandmother, her mother, speaking to her in Irigueno, the interaction was pretty similar to the way Filipino kids who grew up in the States found comfort in keywords and familiar vowel sounds whenever their parents would talk to them in their home dialect.   Eventually, my maternal grandmother’s siblings settled in various parts of Metro Manila.  My grandmother was an administrative assistant to someone at the US Embassy, and my mother’s siblings all went to university in Metro Manila.  Most graduated from Diliman, and became white collar professionals.  Some went onto the United States, and ultimately, a majority of us settled in New Jersey.

And here I am.

But between my family’s migration story,  and before I returned to New Jersey at the age of 6, I was living in Sucat, Paranaque.  My family definitely has a clan mentality, and we tended to settle close to one another.  For safety reasons, I guess.  I attended school in Metro Manila for a short period of time, and learned how to speak Tagalog by watching Batibot, the Philippines’ version of Sesame Street. I don’t remember what exactly I did on Black Thursday, but I probably lived the life of a typical four year old.  Minimal worries:  get up for school by 6 am, get through classes, avoid the bully daughter of the van-service owner which drove me home, and find a way to buy an ice buko from the corner after completing my homework.    This was a typical day.

Being at the forefront of a peoples movement has never exactly been on my family’s agenda. In the Philippines, we were a typical middle-class family where genuine agrarian reform is more of a foreign, rather than a welcomed, concept.  My family’s been rooted in Metro Manila since the 1970s, so traces of our Bicolano roots are now long gone.

The farmers at Mendiola that day in 1987 were fighting for genuine agrarian reform.  This is the basic issue that’s swept every major protest by community organizations across the Philippines for decades. It’s simple – only a small percentage of the Filipino population live in the major cities, and the majority of the Philippine population are still a peasant farmer class in the outlying provinces.  When there is no more land to till due to foreign land-grabbing, or exploitation by local landlords, people starve and leave for the city in the hopes of finding contractual labor.  Where is the justice for victims 25 years later, when the class action lawsuit on behalf of victims and survivors was denied twice?

Land reform has been the basis of several bloody battles in the Philippines. In fact, the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita (which was represented at the mobilization at Mendiola back in 1987 and where another massacre occurred in 2004) has only recently gained a concrete victory in the partial redistribution of the 4,915-hectare estate.

So, how does a person like me, of the middle-class who has never tilled the soil for a day in her life, become a sympathizer for agrarian reform? To which I answer: easily.  I am the group who left.  Having no more land, and there being a complete shortage of jobs in the Philippines, my family used its upward mobility and access to leave and find jobs abroad.    I am part of the diaspora that stemmed from farmer life, moving to Manila, and ultimately, settling in the United States.  The same economic factors pushed me and my family further and further out.  Being further from the injustice means we’ve also had the privilege of having blinders on.  This choice of non-participation and denying the connections to the struggles back home is what being involved in movement work actively changes in my  present life.

There are some questions that surface from time to time while I maneuver through the movement work.  What does it mean that my family supported the Cojuangco-Aquino administration (remember:  matching yellow shirts on a PANAM flight?) when the same administration fired bullets into a crowd of unarmed protesters in Mendiola in 1987 and Hacienda Luisita in 2004?  Why are there people in the Philippines who are still in the streets waiting for justice after 25 years?  Why are farmers and union organizers being killed in the fields and picket lines?  Why are people who are fighting for basic human rights and survival, being killed simply for wanting a better stake in the world?

25th Commemoration March for the fallen farmers of the Mendiola Massacre. January 22, 2012 - from the album of Amihan Mabalay

On a more personal level, living in Manila at the time of the 1987 Mendiola Massacre has raised other questions.   Why didn’t my parents feel that this was something significant that they should have taught/explained to me?  Even today in the US, there are so many important things that kids should know, because they likely know others who are experiencing these abstract concepts in their daily lives:  immigration, the DREAM Act, this recession, and the ways kids experience entitlement/access/privilege/gender roles.  These are some very important lessons that should come from parents, rather than hindsight.  And when I think about it, I’m surprised at my parents since they prided themselves on not having ignorant children.

NOTE TO SELF: When I become a parent, I want my children to know that these struggles matter. I want to teach my child how to construct  better world.  I want to trigger the ability within them to be critical, rather than foster naïveté.  I want them to value the lives and experiences of others.

I share my family history because these questions are still something I am processing.  I don’t blame anyone in my family for what they’ve done in order to survive in the best way they knew how.  I know the stories that rotate during holidays and get-togethers.  I know my family worked hard to be where they are today.  I share the version I understand of my family’s history to question my own values at this juncture, as well as to create teaching moments for myself amidst these pronounced narratives.

With that, I want to honor the slain during the 1987 Mendiola Massacre, and all who continue to fight for genuine land reform in the Philippines.  And for other Filipinos living in the United States, don’t forget that the struggle you left behind continues.  This is the very same struggle that has led you and your family to other shores.  May we always remember that.

Junk CARP, CARPER, SDO, and All Other Land Reform Shams!

7 Year Old Boy Wants to Be a Girl Scout


I am buying all of Bobby Montoya’s Girl Scout Cookies.  I support Girl Scout Inc.’s decision to admit a female-identified child.  As a former Girl Scout myself (Cadettes, where you at?!), this is an amazing stride in an effort to end discrimination within the organization.

I’ll write a bit more later, since it is a bit late.  However, know that there have been other Girl Scouts who are reacting to the news by asking for a public boycott of GS cookies.

Are People the Product in the Latest Coca-Cola OFW Campaign?

Yes, I cried when I watched this.

There’s a moment at 2:14 when Joe Marie is recognized by his female relative, and that glimmer was the gatekeeper for the rest of my tears.  What was so touching about this video was seeing the stories of these particular Filipinos, and knowing that these stories reflect a similar narrative found the millions of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who long to be with their families, especially during this holiday season.

When I watch this, I think about a close friend who is finally spending time with her father in the Philippines after a year and a half of being apart.   I think about the women of Kabalikat who have created new homes here in the NYC area. I think about the ones who are being forced to return. I think about  the ones who will never return.  I think about my own family spread across continents.

Then towards the end of this extended commercial, I found myself becoming a bit angry.

The anger came from no longer being able to identify what was being sold in this ad.  While they were passing  liter bottles of Coca-Cola around the lechon, was Coca-Cola actually selling the idea of selling people abroad? Were people the product?

As an international conglomerate, doesn’t Coke create the circumstances that exploit workers, and force economic migration for Filipinos?  I’m fairly certain that I’ve heard a thing or two about Coca-Cola using maneuvers to take advantage of their workers.  Specifically: (source)

Dole Philippines, Coca-Cola, and countless other corporations have used contract labor as a systematic tactic to undermine unions and avoid taking responsibility for their workers. 

…These outsourced workers do not have the right to unionize and thus, the unions in the many of the bottling plants are slowly disappearing. The ILO recommends that the company limit the number of contract workers and to assure that current contract workers are provided the same rights and benefits as regular workers. The union in one plant has been able to limit the number of contract workers at their facility through collective bargaining.

The inability to unionize and create secure positions (outside of contractual work) within the Philippines is a major factor why there living wage is extremely low, and doesn’t include reasonable access to other basic needs.  Now, imagine that this is a common practice between all foreign multi-national companies on which the Philippines relies.  It’s not good news for the average Filipino worker.  (This happens in a lot of places, too. Please read more about the murdered union leaders at the Coca-Cola plant in Colombia.  )

The well crafted title of this campaign “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?” bumps the relevance of any search combining “Coca-Cola” and “strike.”  The truth becomes hidden, and no longer are we linked to the friction Coca-Cola created in Columbia, the harassment at sugar cane farms in the Philippines, or anything documenting the poor labor practices in any of these countries.   That, of course, was a pretty strategic move on Coca-Cola’s ad agency’s end. (But if it wasn’t then they should TOTALLY give me credit for making the connection.)

While I think it was wonderful to reunite these 3 families, we are still saying that the remittance economy is the ultimate model for keeping an entire country afloat. We’re back to the beginning where we applaud the Filipino worker for leaving, without creating agreements and protections for safe working conditions.  Instead, we should demand the Philippines create sustainable economic opportunities for national industries – jobs that  employ Filipinos, and provide for the Philippines.


What do you think about this Coca-Cola commercial?  Leave a comment below.