Sunday, April 29, 2007
An Invitation to the Filipino American Community At Large
To the Filipino American Community at Large:
Thank you to everyone who has been helping with the campaign to support House Res 121. We’re nearly at 2000 international signatures.
Soon, we hope that Lantos will take the House Res to the floor for a full vote.
A lot can happen in the next month.
I have been working with Annabel Park and 121 Coalition, a national grassroots coalition mobilizing for the passage of House Resolution 121 introduced by Congressman Mike Honda. The resolution calls upon Japan to apologize to the victims of "comfort stations." There are nearly 200 civic groups in our membership. We are campaigning for people to write to their Representative in Congress to co-sponsor the resolution. We currently have 102 co-sponsors. We are aiming for 120.
Currently, I am the only Filipina American working with 121 Coalition.
I really need community support.
We need the Filipino American community to push this issue into high gear — and not too soon for so many of the lolas have already died.
We need the FIL AM community especially in Northern Cali to step up and write LANTOS and PELOSI. Daly City is in Lantos’ district. These two congress people are key and they need to have constituents bombarding their email — they need Fil AM email.
I am writing to ask the Filipino American community at large to mobilize and to help me in several ways.
We need your organizations and alumna societies to join 121 Coalition. If you go to 121 Coalition's website you will see dozens of Korean American Collectives and Organizations. We need to mobilize the Filipino American community in order to make it clear this is not just a Korean American issue.
Of the 200,000 women and girls abducted 1000 of them were Filipina and only 173 of them have come forward. That means your lola may be holding onto a painful and (to her) shameful experience. So we need FIL AM representation to demonstrate that this is our issue too, our lolas’ issues and our WW2 generation’s especially. If we want to represent the lolas, we’ve got to be a presence in the coalition.
What organizations who join the coalition can do to help:
1. Please send me the names of groups with contact information and leadership. I will personally call these groups to get them invested. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Educate your members and sign the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/online/11466.html
3. Write a letter to your state’s representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor House Res 121 on your group’s behalf.
4. Offer donations and contributions to sponsor a lola on the Hill and to place national ads in national papers or an ad in your local newspaper.
5. Lend your organization’s name to 121 Coalition to give FIL AM presence to the movement and to support the Lolas.
6. Fundraisers and events to raise awareness. Your organization can sponsor a local event to educate the FIL AM community in your city. You can host a lecture or reading. At the University of Miami, Amnesty International held a DIE IN and during that event students read testimonies of surviving Filipina Comfort Women and tabled simultaneously. In two hours they got nearly one hundred signatures added to the online petition.
Please spread the word and encourage your community to write to your congress person and to sign the petition. I invite you to join the coalition with me. Perhaps you can be a contact for your city. I am so grateful for the help many of you have already extended, and I can use your help to educate the FIL Am community at large by email blasts, phone calls, articles, spoken word events.
NOTE: When your community has a lot of people writing your congress person and you share that with the coalition, let them know and they will send a representative to that Congressperson’s office to speak directly to him or her on your community’s behalf. So write your congressperson!
Finally, though we want to represent the lolas in the struggle for justice, this is a fight for Human Rights. This is a statement about what is and is not acceptable behavior to women all around the world. But we need the FIL AM community to come forward and let the rest of the world understand, we respect our elders and these elders are currently being lost in the media shuffle. Much of the country is under the impression that Comfort Women were Korean women ... They don’t realize all the other nationalities that were also abducted and abused. Many nationalities suffered this war crime.
The Lolas are getting lost in the media shuffle because the Korean Comfort Women are so present and they are present because their community is backing them up. Well, I’m sure that once our community is aware, we can support the lolas too. We work best when we’re working together. Let’s work together.
Perhaps bringing the FIL AM Vet supporters together with 121 Coalition will build the kind of community wide support among Asian Americans to get measures past for our elders who have suffered and served during WW2. It's time to take care of the lolas, lolos, manongs and manangs.
Thanks and if you have any great ideas or ways of offering your talent and time, I welcome you to join me.
Maraming salamat, po. I look forward to hearing from you.
M. Evelina Galang