Fil-Ams celebrating Independence Day in New York

met with repetitive harassment


June 1, 2008



▲ 18 year-old Wilfred Recaido of Kappa Pi and 35 year-old Rusty Fabunan  were stopped from playing music in the middle of the crowded fair. The two members were playing makeshift drums out of buckets and entertaining onlookers when they were dragged by NYPD off to a corner and arrested for alleged "failure to disperse".

▲ Recaido being nabbed by NYPD ▼ Defiant Recaido Raises Fist
Photos courtesy of Philippine Forum



Photos courtesy of NAFCON and BAYAN-USA


News Release
June 4, 2008

Reference: Rico Foz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), email:


NEW YORK-- Approximately 100 parade marchers from the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and BAYAN USA were met with repetitive harassment by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and security forces of the Philippine Independence Day Celebration (PIDC) Committee last Sunday during the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade. The joint contingent was projecting issues of the rice crisis in the Philippines and protesting the local commercialization of the annual Philippine Independence Day parade and fair along Madison Avenue. Constant harassment from the NYPD, in connivance with the PIDC organizing committee and Philippine Consulate, ended with the arrest of two members of the Filipino community fraternity, Kapatirang Pilipino, or Kappa Pi.

Unwarranted Arrest

35 year-old Rusty Fabunan and 18 year-old Wilfred Recaido of Kappa Pi were stopped from playing music in the middle of the crowded fair. The two members were playing makeshift drums out of buckets and entertaining onlookers when they were dragged by NYPD off to a corner and arrested for alleged "failure to disperse". Onlookers who had been entertained by the street music quickly rallied for the NYPD to let Fabunan and Recaido go. A crowd of youth gathered and confronted the NYPD with loud chants shouting, "Just music... What's wrong with that?" and "Is this how we celebrate independence?"

Robert Roy, Executive Director of the Philippine Forum, who was also physically harassed by NYPD, recounts,"They were just arbitrarily grabbed in a very violent way. Why? They were only playing music, beating drums, and making the crowd happy. There is no policy in the PIDC guidelines that prohibits playing drums in the fair or convening a crowd while playing music. This was a targeted act against us led by the PIDC committee and the Philippine Consulate. Both been targeting our contingent with harassment for years now. They are threatened by the message we bring to the PIDC and want to censor us."

Police Escorts

As early as 10am last Sunday, while the NAFCON-BAYAN parade contingent was assembling along 39th Street at 6th Avenue and rehearsing their chants, Roy believes the officers of the PIDC committee were already planning their measures to censor and disrupt the group, including calling on NYPD to escort the contingent throughout its walk down Madison Avenue.

After a well-received march down Madison Avenue chanting "Habang si Gloria ay nasa itaas, masyadong mataas ang presyo ng bigas!" and "How on earth can we be free, with a thousand dollar booth fee? How on earth can we be free, change your ways PIDC!", NAFCON-BAYAN paraders were obstructed from entering the main fair area by a blockade of NYPD. After holding an impromptu rally calling for an end to the local commercialization of the annual parade and fair, NAFCON-BAYAN marchers were eventually let in and then continually harassed when they carried their placards inside. Finally, after hours of listening to non-patriotic (American) songs from the fair's main stage, Filipino youth seeking genuinely Filipino cultural performances started playing street music that convened a small crowd of onlookers. It was at this point that the NYPD grabbed the buckets from Fabunan and Recaido and arrested them.

"Sa sarili nating Independence Day Celebration, hindi kami free," (On our own Independence Day Celebration, we're not free), stated Recaido.

"We're not here to make trouble. We just don't want to listen to loud American music all day on this celebration of Philippine Independence. We're just calling for positive change, and for that, we are harassed," Fabunan stated. "It's ironic that in this celebration of our so-called independence, we are not afforded our democratic right to freedom of speech and expression."

History Repeats Itself, and Gets Worse

In 2005, the same contingent was stopped from marching the parade route by the NYPD for carrying placards calling for Philippine Consul General Cecilia Rebong to move out of her $10,000 a month condominium in the Trump Towers in Manhattan. In 2006, marchers protested the state of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists in the Philippines. In 2007, police stood guard as NAFCON marchers criticized the Philippine Consulate for it's collusion with SentosaCare LLC, a healthcare management company in New York that has been known to illegally recruit nurses from the Philippines. This year, NAFCON and BAYAN USA marchers joined forces to protest the local commercialization of the PIDC, carrying placards denouncing the $1000+ rental fee for a fair booth. Many believe the local commercialization and high rental fees for booths is another local corruption scheme by the Philippine Consulate to pocket more money out of the Filipino community.

Philippine Consulate Still Behind the PIDC

"It is becoming more and more evident that the PIDC committee, which is led by the Philippine Consulate, is responsible for this. How ironic that on the website of the Philippine Consulate, it states its mission is to protect and serve the rights of overseas Filipinos in the US. But the history of the PIDC shows us that most of the time overseas Filipinos in New York need to protect themselves from the Philippine Consulate, a significant violator of our basic rights to speech and assembly," Roy added.

"Despite the PIDC's disapproval of our message, the vast majority of parade and fair goers were in support of us," states Christina Hilo of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), also part of the NAFCON-BAYAN contingent. "The PIDC should be a venue for all Filipinos to express themselves truthfully and enjoy their rights, not a day of repression and censorship."


Release from Arrest, and Continued Indignation

As for Fabunan and Recaido, they were eventually released on the spot due to pressure from street protesters and issued a summons. Fabunan quickly thanked the crowd of supporters. "If not for the united voices of chanters pressuring the police, I would have spent tonight in jail," Fabunan stated. "Organized community members fighting on the streets is always a powerful force that can shift the situation to the unexpected."►►►


Click here for video on YouTube

In an emergency NAFCON-BAYAN last night, an indignation rally will take place in front of the Philippine Consulate this Friday at 5:30pm. The contingent will continue on with its campaign to dismiss the charges against Fabunan and Recaido, as well as pressure the Philippine Consulate to lower the rental fees of fair booths for the PIDC, including a thorough audit of all accumulated PIDC funds from the past celebrations. "These funds should go towards Filipino community projects, not in the large pocket of the Philippine Consulate," Roy ended.

For more information, contact the BAYANIHAN Filipino Community Center at 718-565-8862. ###








June 4, 2008
Jackson Heights, NY

Rusty Fabunan, Kappa Pi, e-mail:
News Reporter: Gerry Espiritu e-mail:


The members of the newly-established fraternity Kappa Pi, which stands for "Kapatiran Pilipino" (Filipino Brotherhood), condemns on the strongest possible terms the harassment and aborted arrest of brother Wilfred Recaido and founder Rusty Fabunan by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in connivance with the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIDC) and the Philippine Consulate on Sunday, June 1st, during the annual commemoration of Philippine Independence Day in New York.

"Its' just music, what's wrong with that?" chanted the Kappa Pi brothers along with friends and the rest of the community as the NYPD illegally dragged Recaido and Fabunan off of the street. "We were just playing drums and celebrating our independence. We did not violate any laws or ordinance whatsoever," Recaido said referring to the fact that the large annual gathering on Madison Ave. was a permitted fair.

"It was clearly not a violation of any noise or sound ordinance because the main stage of the fair had the loudest music. We're also not using any electronic or amplified equipment, just drums made of buckets and water bottles," Fabunan stated.

Recaido and Fabunan were forced by the NYPD cops aside on a street corner of East 26th and then blocked by other cops away from the crowd illegally. It was illegal because they were not being arrested. One of the cops simply gestured with his fingers and told Fabunan, "Come with me." Afterwards the officer came back to the crowd and grabbed Recaido's nape and forcibly pulled him together with Fabunan. Claiming they would not arrest them, the cops simply wanted to "talk to them" and there were no charges being thrown against the two Kappa Pi brothers. The crowd gathered and continued chanting demanding that Recaido and Fabunan be released.

As more and more people gathered and the chants got stronger and louder, the defiant Recaido raised his fist amidst custody of the NYPD. The crowd grew defiant as well. Flashes of digital cameras, cellphones and video cameras continued to monitor the activity as well.

Due to the obvious fact that Fabunan and Recaido did not violate any laws, and perhaps out of fear from the gathering strength of the crowd, Recaido and Fabunan were slapped with a "failure to disperse" ticket and were released back to the community.

"Failure to disperse? Why should we disperse? We have a permit to gather at this fair, we are simply celebrating our independence from the Spanish colonizers," Recaido stated in amusement after being cited by the NYPD.

"We believe that the NYPD did not act on its own" Fabunan said, accusing the fair organizers the PIDC for giving the orders to the cops to "intimidate and harass" the contingent under the banner of NAFCON or the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. "Every year the PIDC would harass our group. They have a long history of trying to isolate us and silence our voices and attempting to discredit the issues that we want the Filipino community to know," Fabunan commented.

The group NAFCON include member organizations such as the Kappa Pi Fraternity, YEHEY (Young Educators for the Health and Empowerment of the Youth), the Philippine Forum, Kabalikat Domestic Workers Group, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Anakbayan NY/NJ, SANDIWA National Filipino American Youth Alliance, Sentosa 27++ Nurses, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). Other member organizations from other states also in town include League of Filipino Students (LFS) from San Francisco staue University, Active Leadership for Advancement of Youth (ALAY) from the Bay Area, Anakbayan-East Bay Chapter, San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP-SF) and Habi-Arts from Los Angeles.

The group has been known for being the only parade contingent to carry and highlight relevant social and political concerns both locally and from the Philippines. They marched carrying a giant rice cooker symbolizing the on-going rice crisis in the Philippines. NAFCON also attacked government corruption and also highlighted the "commercialization" of the PIDC through its "exorbitant and outrageous increase of the price to rent a booth at the fair".

"We've been harassed since the start of the parade" said Robert Roy, executive director of Philippine Forum. They were continuously harassed by PIDC marshals and the NYPD throughout the celebration. "Anyone watching the parade would notice that we're the only contingent being escorted by the NYPD. We're not violent and we're not troublemakers," Roy added. In fact the contingent has consistently won awards from the parade organizers because of their artistic excellence, creativity, and for being the most organized and disciplined participant.►►►



Press Release
June 4, 2008

Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, member of Filipina for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), email:


Madison Avenue, NYC - During last Sunday's Philippines Independence Day Celebration (PIDC) parade, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) and other member organizations of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) were consistently harassed by the police for unknown reasons. The NYPD persistently tried to silence and cease their political street theatre, which exposed the commercialization of the PIDC and the current rice crisis in the Philippines. The constant harassment reached its limit, when NYPD threatened to arrest, and violently seized two youth members of Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi fraternity) for just playing drums. In response, women from FiRE made it loud and clear to the NYPD that enough was enough.

"When the NYPD took our friends away for playing drums, it didn't make any sense. This is New York City, people play drums everywhere--in the parks, in the street, in the subways! Why can't we play drums during our celebration of independence? It was JUST MUSIC!" responded Jackelyn Mariano, member of FiRE, to this past Sunday's incident.

Mariano and other women from FiRE, quickly responded to the possible apprehension by leading the chants with fellow bystanders, "JUST MUSIC! WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?!?" NYPD quickly responded as well and made a barricade of officers blocking the rally and the drummers. To support the youth who were apprehended, the FiRE women led the chants non-stop for an hour until the police released them. Although, the women's voices were already drawn out from the chanting during the parade and the overwhelming stress with the thought they might be arrested, FiRE women stayed vigilant and didn't stop the chanting until the youth were free.

The Kappa Pi brothers were charged with "failure to disperse" have been sentenced to a court summons, however, this is still an injustice considering that they were only playing drums.

Please join FiRE and NAFCON groups in an indignation rally of last Sunday's events in front of the Philippine Consulate, 556 Fifth Avenue, this Friday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m.

To see the consistent harassment by the NYPD, please click on this link

For more information, contact ###

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women's organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women's struggle in the Philippines. By bringing woman-born and woman-identified people together, we challenge pervading stereotypes and create self-defined Filipina identities. For more information, please visit .

FiRE is a proud member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about the only overseas chapter of BAYAN, and the other organizations in our alliance, please visit



Organizers of NAFCON have strong reason to believe that the aborted arrest of Recaido and Fabunan was a direct order from the PIDC and the Philippine Consulate. In 2005, the Filipino community will never forget the fact that during the parade, the NYPD also harassed the contingent by forcibly dispersing them out of the parade even if they have not violated any laws. "This year they targeted our youth because they think they can intimidate and scare them," Roy added.

The illegal and aborted arrest of the Kappa Pi brothers Recaido and Fabunan started when the two initiated a drum circle, a very common practice and staple in New York City parks during the summer. The drumming session attracted many youth enjoying the fair. "It's actually fun, because some of the performers on stage are boring. Plus we can't get close to the stage to watch because there's many people, so we're glad there was other music even if it's just impromptu and makeshift," said one of the Filipino youth who joined in to watch the drum session.

Other youth started dancing, some were clapping and a few are even singing and chanting freestyle verses. "It was just plain fun, there was no threat or intimidation, you always see that in New York, people gathering around playing beats and bustin' out moves and breakin' that's genuine New York Hip Hop culture for you," said another youth who claimed he was a hip hop artist from the Bronx. "Why are we being singled out? Is it because we're brown and Filipino?" he added.

NAFCON organizers said that they are filing a case against the PIDC. Meanwhile the Kappa Pi Fraternity together with other members of NAFCON is spearheading a protest action in front of the Philippine consulate at 556 5th Ave. between 45th and 46th streets on Friday June 6, 5:30 pm.##



Press Release
June 4th, 2008

Reference: Jackelyn M. Mariano, Co-Educational Discussion Director, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC)

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) Bring the Noise!

New York, NY On Sunday, June 1st, 2008, during the Philippine Independence Day Celebration on Madison Avenue, the Philippine Forum, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), and BAYAN-USA contingent was met with much resistance from the New York Police Department about their peaceful protests against the rice crisis in the Philippines and the commercialization of the PIDC.

After being repeatedly harassed during the parade and having a rally stopped short in the PIDC fair, NYPD officers forcefully threatened to arrest two members of the contingent, Wilfred "Pewee" Recaido and Rusty Fabunan, for simply refusing to stop playing drums on the corner of 25th Street and Madison Avenue. The two were released with a summons after the other members of the  contingent staged a strong impromptu rally for their release.

On Monday night, Jackelyn Mariano of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC) searched through videos on the online video sharing website YouTube for any footage of the final rally. One video was found. It provided an aerial view of the rally as well as sharp playback of the contingent's chants of "Just music! What's wrong with that?"

The discovery of the video enticed a less-than-positive response, however, as it also contained very offensive commentary made by the videographer. As the video plays, the videographer, whose first name is revealed to be Jason, calls the people involved in the rally, "pu**y Filipinos" claiming that they were only supposedly able chant "f**k you, pigs" in the rally. Jason claims that the chanters were not able to vary the response unless they spoke in their own language, "Filipinese." Jason also tags the video with the words "stupid filipinos."

"I was very shocked to hear what he had to say," asserts Mariano. "I was looking for a video that would highlight our collective efforts for our
friends, but instead, the video succeeded in stripping away our credibility. It is great that we are now able to express ourselves on the web so freely, but it is also a shame that some people can get away with spreading ignorance and discrimination."

This video is very reminiscent of the Desperate Housewives episode that
contained a racist remark towards Filipinos. BAYAN-USA and NAFCON campaigned against that issue in October 2007.

The link to the YouTube video was spread to all members of Philippine Forum, NAFCON, and BAYAN-USA. Mariano encouraged those who were able to see the video to express their outrage over Jason's blatantly racist comments. Within an hour, fifteen comments denouncing his racism were left on the page. In fear that he would take down the video upon discovery of the Filipino community's outrage, members of FiRE NYC saved a copy of the video and screenshots of Jason's pages as proof that the video was indeed there. A picture of Jason was also saved.

At 3:29AM on June 3rd, 2008, Jason made the video private and modified the layout of his YouTube channel, excluding his name and his picture to public. He retaliated by leaving short comments of videos made by the outraged commentors. On a video by Krystle Cheirs of FiRE NYC, he commented with the word "lame." On a video by Mariano about FiRE at the International Women's Day March in May 2008, he used the word "boring."

Philippine Forum, NAFCON, and BAYAN-USA demand justice out of this past weekend's unfortunate events. The contingent was met with unjust treatment from the PIDC and the NYPD as well as the racist remarks from Jason on YouTube. The contingent will rally against these issues on June 6th, 2008 at 5:30PM at the Philippine Consulate and continue to fight for fair treatment and equality.

Jackie Mariano
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC - GAB USA) - External ED Sandiwa - The National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth - NY Co-Regional Director, Publicity Committee Chair Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND - District III) Pilipinos of Hunter (POH)
Hunter College of the City University of New York



04 June 2008

Reference: Yves Nibungco & Yancy Gandionco, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey
Contact Info:, (646)5787390

Anakbayan NY/NJ Joins the Music! What's wrong with that?
Criticizes video by guy calling Filipinos "pussy" and "stupid"

Anakbayan NY/NJ condemns New York Police Department (NYPD)-Philippine Consulate-Philippine Independence Day Celebration (PIDC) Committee, Inc. for the recent harassment done towards members of Philippine Forum's Kappa Pi -- a Filipino community-based fraternity and fellow member organizations of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) -- during the Independence day celebration on June 1st.

The NAFCON and BAYAN-USA contingent converged at 39th and 5th avenue and proceeded to march along Madison Ave. carrying signs about the Rice Crisis in the Philippines, commercialization of the whole PIDC event and ongoing campaign for justice of the Sentosa Nurses. All throughout the day, members of the contingent of NAFCON suffered several harassments from officers of NYPD and PIDC Inc.

"I think we were the only contingent accompanied and harassed by the NYPD as we marched down Madison Ave. They told us that we were not allowed to air our protests during the parade and they (the NYPD officers) constantly heckled us to hurry down Madison Avenue as if they wanted us out of the streets as fast as they can." Babz Manuel, a member of Anakbayan NY/ NJ commented. The whole contingent was even prevented from entering the fair grounds for reasons not yet clear to us.

The harassment did not end there. It escalated when an NYPD officer grabbed two members of the Kapatirang Pilipino Fraternity or Kappa Pi. Rusty Fabunan and Peewee Recaido were taken to the corner, by the Patrol car, after they played music with snare drums and a makeshift drum from paint buckets. Both men were released after a group of young Filipinos gathered around the scene chanting, "Just Music, What's wrong with that?" However, the two Kappa Pi brothers were given summons by the NYPD charging them with "failure to disperse".

"What is there to disperse? This is the celebration of Philippine Independence and we were there only to celebrate our so-called freedom and there they were preventing us from expressing it. We weren't doing anything to harm the public. We were even entertaining them," Pewee Recaido, who is also the Kappa Pi supremo, said.

"In the past, history shows that the PIDC Committee, while working with the Philippine Consulate on this celebration, has been hell-bent on preventing our contingents from voicing out and criticizing the Philippine government by employing all means to belittle our calls, from drowning out our chants by placing us in between contingents playing loud drum beats to the violent dispersal of our organized forces," Dani Galan, president of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey said, "We were even the only contingents escorted by NYPD officers. How's that for INDEPENDENCE?"

The Philppine Consulate and PIDC INC has been consistently criticized by members of NAFCON and BAYAN USA for making the independence day celebration a grand money-making scheme. The celebration was also lambasted by these contingents for promoting a culture of greed and corruption instead of a genuine culture of "bayanihan". This, and the showcasing of not-so Filipino performances, was what had driven our fellow NAFCON members, mostly youth, to come up with the alternative music and cultural space, which, unfortunately resulted in the harassment by the NYPD.

"With the recent happenings in the Philippine Independence Day Celebration, it only shows that even here in the United States, militant Filipinos fighting for their rights and who are critical of the Philippine government's wrongdoings are also being repressed. We are also met with an iron hand, revealing the true fascist nature of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration, with the help of, who else, but its office in New York and the local police department," Jonna Baldres, Anakbayan NY/NJ secretary-general said.

Undeniably, this unholy alliance of NYPD and Philippine Consulate-PIDC could not silence the brave voices of the people's indignation as their dirty deed was witnessed and opposed by bystanders and NAFCON and BAYAN USA's member organizations' chanting and inquisition: "IT'S JUST MUSIC! WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?!?"



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