With manly Lapu-Lapu towering over the grounds where participants of this year’s #1BillionRising (OBR) were to dance and protest, organizers put up a large woman-balloon. Emblazoned on her chest was the women’s call #LabananAngAbuso, or fight abuse.
It was but a fitting call. After all, OBR Revolution has still been about raising awareness for women’s rights and the struggle against gender-based and sexual violence. In the Philippines, however, the escalation–for the past three years–has taken on the form of highlighting economic and political violence against women and children.
Led by Gabriela Philippines and Gabriela Women’s Party, as well as Monique Wilson’s groundbreaking theater group New Voice Company, OBR’s campaign here has taken on violence such as extreme poverty and depravation brought about by state neglect, as well as state-inficted violence against the women and people, such as that experienced by the Lumad people of Mindanao.
Indeed, Wilson and V-Day founder (and Tony award-winning The Vagina Monologues writer) Eve Ensler recently visited the Lumad refugee camp in Davao City. Ensler was said to have been moved to tears at the resilience and militance of the indigenous people, especially women, amid their struggle against militarization and capitalist encroachment of their lands.
As Wilson has constantly been pointing out in media interviews, this is exactly what the Philippine campaign has taught the rest of the world, including women’s activists: economic and political violence, especially state-sanctioned ones, are the most horrible ones for women and makes them especially vulnerable to sexual and gender-based abuse.
The rising Filipino women have once again inspired many activists within Ensler’s global V-Day movement and beyond to be more political and radical, to confront states and ruling classes, to dare to revolt.