Saturday, March 1, 2008

One Year Ago Today, He said ...

A year ago today, then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the great false statement, "There is not enough evidence to prove coercion." He was referring to the way the Japanese Imperial Army took over 200,000 women and girls during World War II and forced them into "Comfort Stations." He began a revolution of minds a year ago today. He gave us reason, especially those of us who have been in this fight for so long, and for the lolas and other survivors who have been in this fight to get their message into the light their whole lives, he gave us reason to stand up, to speak out and to say, "No, you are wrong."

When I heard his statement, a year ago today, I tried to stay cool. I remember coming out of a faculty meeting and one of my colleagues asked me, "So what are you going to do about it?" I told him not to get me started because if I got started, I would not stop. I got started.

So much has happened in this one year. This blog, which came out of that statement, was born. I addressed Prime Minister Abe then, I asked him to please consider the lives of the women and the fight they are in (to rescue not only their own dignity but to keep the lives of other girls, children and women living in war torn nations safe). So many of us signed the international online petition. And as I stayed awake nights, doing my best to fight this battle from Miami, my friends across the nation were doing the same thing in their home cities. There were activists on the west coast and east coast. There was Annabel Park and Eric Byler in DC. And members of the grassroots 121 Coalition began knocking on doors. In Congress we had Mike Honda and Nancy Pelosi, Eni Falemaovaega and the great late Congressman Tom Lantos, doing their best to educate their colleagues and pass House Resolution 121, a non-binding bill asking Japan to make a formal apology and to take full responsibility for these war crimes against humanity.

I started writing my own Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on a weekly basis. She was the senior ranking member of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs and I desperately needed her to understand the plight of my lolas. When she rose in support of the bill last July and when the rest of Congress joined her and gave the bill a unanimous voice vote, my heart swelled.

I invite you to go through the archives of this blog. You will be amazed at the stories of human spirit and strength. So much evidence.

Japan has yet to apologize. The fight is not over. But there are so many more soldiers fighting this battle with us now. Canada has passed a similar motion. And others have written their own versions of the same plea: please say sorry, please own up to this history that is yours. The Netherlands, the European Parliament, Australia and the Philippines. Prime Minister Abe has stepped down, our dear ambassador of human rights, Congressman Tom Lantos has passed away and many of the women too have been lost in the year, but the truth has emerged. There was reason to say it and there were people willing to hear it; all because of one man's statement a year ago today, "There is not enough evidence to prove coercion."

Thank you, former Prime Minister Abe. Do you like the photo above? That is me and the evidence you were looking for, the survivors of Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina. We are marching on Women's International Day, March 8 2001.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

FWN'S V-DAY Proceeds To Benefit surviving Filipina "Comfort Women" aka: Mga Lola!

I'll be joining the casts in both NYC and SF as they fight violence against women around the world. 10% of the proceeds will be going to the lolas and this is a good great thing! Thank You, Filipina Women's Network! Below are facts about the production.


Filipina Women's Network

Filipinas Against Violence: V-Day FWN 2008

Making San Francisco and New York City / New Jersey safe places for Filipina women and girls.

An All-Filipina Benefit Production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues and Usaping Puki (in Tagalog)

PREMIERE of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer (new play featuring Filipino men - supporters of Men Against Violence are community leaders)

Filipina Women's Network (FWN) joins V-Day in its global effort to stop violence against women and girls.

What: Filipina women and men coming together in solidarity to dialogue about violence, about the Filipino community's silence and shame about domestic violence,and about ways to break the cycle of violence against Filipina women and girls through performances of Eve Ensler's Obie award-winning The Vagina Monologues, Usaping Puki (Tagalog version) and the new play - A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer.

MEN AGAINST VIOLENCE Workshops: A discussion about masculinity, violence in our communities and how we can be allies with women to end family violence.

- Raise awareness through theatre, popular culture and education about the high incidence of violence in Filipino homes and intimate partner relationships.
- Help Filipina women in abusive relationships take action and seek help.

Why this Campaign Matters: Engaging the Filipino community through theatre and hearing the women's stories in Tagalog "hits home" and helps us understand the broader connections of Filipino values such as respect for women, dignity, family, equality and justice to social and economic issues and to class and religion.

Who: All-Filipino cast members are community leaders, actors, students,professionals, activists, and homemakers.

V-Day FWN Beneficiaries:
V-Day Spotlight 2008: Katrina Warriors - Women of New Orleans & the Gulf South,FWN’s Filipinas Against Violence Campaign, Comfort Women Survivors in the Philippines

V-Day Sponsors: NoVo Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Dramatists Play Service, GLAMOUR, Oprah & Friends Radio (XM), O magazine, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Vosges Haut Chocolat, W Hotels, New Orleans

V-Day FWN Sponsor: AsianWeek Foundation

About A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer -
A groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. These diverse voices have come together in a collective roar contributing original pieces and bringing their particular vision, talent and take on violence against women and girls - to break open, expose, and examine the insidiousness of violence at all levels: brutality, neglect, a punch, even a put-down.


Until the Violence Stops (film screening) - Friday, March 28, 7pm
The Vagina Monologues - Monday, March 31, 7pm (all-Filipina cast)
Usaping Puki - Saturday, April 5, 2:30pm (all-Filipina cast)
A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer - (two shows) Friday, April 4, 7pm
and Saturday, April 5, 7pm (all-Filipino women and men cast)

March 28 film screening and April 5 shows:
Morgan Auditorium, Academy of Art University, 491 Post St. @ Mason St. San Francisco
Tickets: $5 (students)- $50 (VIP); call

March 31 and April 4 shows - Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
Tickets: $20 (students)- $100 (VIP) or call 415.392.4400

NEW YORK: Philippine Center New York, 556 Fifth Avenue @ 45th St., New York
Tickets: $20 (students) - $100 (VIP) Call 917.720.7268
or go to

Sponsorships, Advertising & Community Partnerships:
Call 415.278.9410 (SF) or email

San Francisco Director Team:
Senior Directors: Elena Mangahas and Ken Marquis
Assistant Directors: Genevieve Jopanda, May Nazareno, Esperanza Catubig

New York Director Team:
Christina Baal and Theresa Tantay-Wilson
Executive Producer: Marily Mondejar
Producer: Kai Delen Briones

About the Filipina Women's Network: A non- profit association for women of Philippine ancestry. The Filipina Women's Network's mission is to enhance public perceptions of Filipina women's capacities to lead, change biases against Filipina women's leadership abilities and promote the entry of Filipina women into positions of leadership in all sectors.

About V-Day: A global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a
catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.

What are The Vagina Monologues?
Based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, The Vagina Monologues (Usaping Puki) give voice to women's deepest fears, guaranteeing that no one who watches the show will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again. It is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. In this stunning phenomenon that has swept the world, Eve Ensler gives us real women's stories of intimacy, vulnerability, and self- discovery.