Marking International Women's Day in Southern Tagalog:
Caravan from San Pedro to San Pablo City, Laguna

March 8,  2014





Pangdaigdigang Araw ng mga Kababaihan!
March 8, 2014

Bilang selebrasyon ng araw ng mga kababaihan ay nagsagawa ng motorcade ang kababaihan ng Gabriela mula San Pedro hanggang San Pablo sa lalawigan ng Laguna. Nakisali rin ang iba't ibang sector mula sa timog katagalugan.

Ang layunin nito ay matigil na ang karahasan sa kababihan sa ating lipunan at matigil na ang lumalalang kahirapan na nararanasan ng mamamayan. Nakilahok din ang Bokal na si Ms. Angelica Jones at nagbigay din ng kanyang salita hinggil sa kalagayan ng kababaihan sa Laguna.Nakisali rin ang mga kababayan natin na may piniling kasarian sa ginawang motorcade. Inalala rin ng mga kababaihan ang mga kababaihang Martyr na nagbuwis na kanilang buhay upang matigil ang karahasan sa mga kababaihan sa ating lipunan. Pinangunahan ng mga kababaihan na taong simbahan ng misa ang motorcade sa San Pedro. At naging matagumpay ang araw na ito dahil nakatungtong ang mga kababaihan sa lungsod ng San Pablo. Hinding hindi pa rin titigil ang mga kababihan sa pagkundena ng mga isyu ng ating lipunan at hindi pa rin sila titigil sa pagkilos hangga't may kababaihang naaapi at napagsasamntalahan.

Sulong Gabriela! Lumaban Makibaka!
Abante Babae! Palaban Militante!

---- Gabriela - Southern Tagalog


Photos by Southern Tagalog Exposure






By Prof. Jose Maria Sison


International League of Peoples' Struggle

March 8, 2014


Imperialism is destroying the lives of women. It is aggravating the exploitation of women and intensifying attacks on women's rights. Through the quintuple  neoliberal policies of pressing down wages, liberalization,  privatization, deregulation and denationalization, imperialism has reversed whatever gains the working women's movement has gained in more than a century of struggles. This is the context of our International Women's Day Commemoration this year.


Strewn along the path of neoliberalism are the tortured bodies of hundreds of millions of working women squeezed dry by monopoly capitalist extraction of superprofits. Outsourcing by big multinational corporations have depressed already low wages of workers, with developing countries trying to outdo each other in offering the lowest possible wages to outbid their rivals for contracts. Contractualization of labor, increased production quotas, shorter breaks, and extended working hours have now become the norm.


In the drive to bring down production costs, safety measures are ignored. Workers are often locked up in workplaces to prevent escapes, thus turning factories into death traps out of factories. In 2013 alone, thousands of women workers perished in fires in factories in the Philippines and Bangladesh. But most devastating was the collapse of a building in Bangladesh, which killed a thousand of women garments workers. These factories manufacture brand-name clothes sold at high prices in the US and EU.


Land and resource grabbing accelerated by neoliberal policies are rendering hundreds of millions of peasant and indigeneous women and their families landless and without income source while imperiling food security. An estimated 80 million hectares of land in many countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia have been subjected to land grab deals, often involving their very own governments. Large-scale mining has destroyed the environment, thus rendering natural disasters more fatal especially to women and children who make up 70% of the victims.


At the base of imperialist globalization are the millions upon millions of women living under slave-like conditions while  the imperialists rake up superprofits.. They fill up the void created by the privatization of social services, such as child and health care. In a world of increasing food prices and food insecurity, they take on multiple work to feed their children. Their vunerability to violence  is heightened by the increasing poverty of their families.


Imperialist economic plunder and competition are the reasons behind the US military pivot to Asia and the Pacific. Its aim is to ensure the continued resource domination of US imperialism in the region.  This in turn will result in the further deterioration of the economic situation of Asia’s peoples. The new basing arrangements and increased rotational presence of US forces will  put  more impoverished young Asian women and children into the clutches of sex exploiters.


Women all over the world are driven by  their dire situation to unite and fight for their rights.  From year to year, as the global crisis worsens, the women’s movement has raised its level of  resolve and militancy and widened its various arenas of action. Women are fighting not only for their very existence but also for the lives of their children and grandchildren. Outraged, they vigorously expose, condemn and oppose the doublespeak of their own governments which try to equate neoliberal policies to development.


Women are at the forefront of mass protests and demands for democratization or anti-militarization, or against neoliberal policies and for genuine land reform and national industrialization. In increasing numbers, they  join national liberation movements as armed fighters. They  build women's organizations that are part of the people's struggle and take up issues that are specific to women such as VAW and women discrimination. In the midst of repressive governments, women have shown courage and have fought for their rights even at the risk of losing their life, limb and liberty.


Women are reaching out to each other  across nations in a show of unprecedented solidarity against imperialism. They are providing support for each other’s struggle. The latest example of  solidarity has been shown by women's organizations from every part of the globe,  including the US, Europe and Canada. to the striking women garments workers of Cambodia.

Ultimately, it is the billions of toiling women, fighting in concert with their toiling brothers and united across the globe, who will strike the deathblow to imperialism.


Women of the world unite!

Resist imperialist plunder and military aggression!

Struggle and fight for women's liberation!




08 March 2014

Reference: JOMS SALVADOR, Secretary General (0918 9182150)/ Public Info Desk (3712302)


More than 10,000 women led the march towards Mendiola near the Malacanang Palace where they held a huge protest action against Pres. Benigno S. Aquino whom they called “pabaya” (negligent) and “pahirap” (burden) to women and their families. Similar women’s protests that gathered thousands of women were also led by GABRIELA chapters in other major cities such as Baguio, Laguna, Legazpi, Naga, Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban and Davao.

According to Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA, midway through Aquino's term, the lives of women, especially those from the marginalized sectors, have worsened rather than improved contrary to his promise of so-called inclusive growth. “The only sectors he ever included in this questionable growth are the big businesses and hacienderos like him. The number of foodless, homeless, landless and jobless has steadily increased yearly. On the other side, profits of big businesses like Meralco, Manila Water and Petron have grown in leaps and bounds.”

Salvador cited the unabated increase in prices and fees in recent months which has become unbearable for women and their families. “Rice prices, fuel prices, electricity rates, transportation fares, tuition fees, the list goes on and on. Where would women find the money to pay for these when they themselves are jobless, or even if they have jobs, they are bound by just 5 months of contract and receive less than minimum wage with no benefits,” she said.

In the past months, GABRIELA has responded with protest actions in response to these price hikes. They stormed the National Food Authority's warehouse to prove an artificial supply lack. They also barraged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Meralco with a series of protests after each announced electricity rate increase. Just yesterday, the women's group picketed the Bureau of Internal Revenue to protest the shame campaign against professionals and the planned taxation of the informal sector even as the agency goes easy on the top 10 billionaires who did not make it to the top 10 taxpayers.

The women's group also took up the cudgels for the victims of Yolanda, mostly women and children, who at exactly four months after, have remained neglected. This morning, they held what they called the “women's black Saturday protest” together with People Surge, an organization of survivors and relatives of victims of Yolanda, in memory of those who perished because of the government's neglect. They tied violet ribbons on the concertina wires that barricade the Pres. Aquino's residence at Times Street in Quezon City.

“While we continue to mourn the fate of our sisters and brothers who died because of the superstorm, we are more enraged by the lack of concern of Aquino and his government for the welfare of the victims. The lives of the victims have not yet normalized and this opportunist government has already bargained their areas to businesses after declaring a “No Build Zone.” Government officials, like vultures, have reportedly gained from kickbacks from substandard bunkhouses and even used the relief goods to perpetuate their own political agenda,” Salvador bemoaned.

In the afternoon main protest action, the marchers symbolically rammed through a more than life-size paper mural of the President and his cohorts enjoying their loot gained from the neo-liberal policies of privatization, liberalization, deregulation and denationalization. “Women will not let such hurdle stop us as we march towards our vision of a society that will create industries that benefit the people rather than capitalists, enrich our lands with harvests that will be shared by all and not only by landlords. We will work to realize this government fit for our children and our children's children,” Salvador ended. ###




Press release
March 8, 2014

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general & Tanggol Bayi convenor (09173162831)
Kiri Dalena, Tanggol Bayi convenor (0920-9755575)


“The BS Aquino regime is a bane to poor Filipino women. His presidency has made lives harder and more dangerous for women, especially those who speak out against rights violations and his anti-poor policies,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general and Tanggol Bayi convenor, on the commemoration of International Women’s Day.

Palabay said that “despite the Aquino government’s much-ballyhooed declarations on economic growth under his presidency and on the promotion of equality by his administration, the joblessness rate among women remains high at 35.9% of the labor force, according to the December 2013 survey of the Social Weather Station.” These figures, she said, may be higher because many of the unpaid and family workers are women.

“The Public-Private Partnership program has resulted to forced evictions of poor women and their families from the urban poor communities where such projects were implemented. Poor women also bear the brunt of poverty, as the number of families experiencing hunger in the past years under Aquino has risen,” she added.

Kiri Dalena, co-convenor of Tanggol Bayi said, “as more women are faced with escalating problems, they are also the first to rise to defend their rights, their families’ and their communities’ interests. The Aquino regime seems to be threatened by the poor Filipinas’ defense of their rights, that it has made women human rights defenders targets of state repression.”

Dalena said “18 women activists, most of them human rights defenders, have been killed under the Aquino administration. The loss of these women who have valiantly struggled for genuine pro-people change is unforgiveable.”

Among those killed by state security forces were Cristina Jose, a village councilor and leader of typhoon survivors in Davao Oriental, on March 4, 2013; and Juvy Capion, an anti-mining activist who was massacred in October 2013 together with her two children.

Palabay and Dalena also scored the Aquino administration for its recent appointment of police general Lina Sarmiento as the chairperson of the Martial law victims claims board.

“The appointment of Sarmiento to a top government post is NOT an achievement for Filipino women. It is a grave insult that is tantamount to a slap on the faces of thousands of Filipino women who suffered during the Marcos dictatorship. Aquino successfully proves how he overwhelmingly underestimates our capacity to see through this cheap and superficial shot at women empowerment,” they concluded. ###



Media Release
08 March 2014

On 103rd Intl Women’s Day
Aquino’s ‘rape of motherland’ hit by women workers

Thousands of females and males from the ranks of workers and the urban poor led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined the national protest on the 103rd International Women’s Day to condemn what they call the Aquino government’s “rape of our motherland.”

The labor group condemned Pres. Noynoy Aquino for presiding over the exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources by big foreign and local capitalists, and working to amend the 1987 Constitution in order to remove the latter’s remaining nationalist provisions and to allow the wholesale return of US military bases to the country.

“Filipino women from the ranks of workers and the poor are rising up against the Aquino government’s rape of our motherland. For three years, Aquino has presided over the severe exploitation of our country’ natural and human resources by his real bosses, the big foreign and local capitalists,” said Nenita “Ka Nitz” Gonzaga, KMU vice-chairperson for women affairs.

Before converging with other groups in the main program at Liwasang Bonifacio, women from the ranks of workers and the urban poor gathered at Plaza Lacson in Sta. Cruz, Manila and held a “One Billion Rising” dance protest against the railroading of Aquino’s Charter Change in Congress.

“Aquino is using all his powers to abuse our motherland by trying to change the Constitution and allow foreign big capitalists to turn our country’s resources, public services, and utilities into their own private businesses. It is becoming clear to an increasingly growing number of people that he should be stopped,” Gonzaga said.

She said Aquino is mistaken if he thinks he can railroad his Cha-cha and that workers and the poor, especially the women, are determined to rise up and stop the sell-out of our motherland like they did with previous government’s attempt to carry out the Cha-cha.

The militant labor center also condemned Aquino’s collusion with the United States government in trying to bring back US military bases to the country as part of the world superpower’s political, economic and military pivot to Asia.

“By allowing the return of US military bases to the country, Aquino is allowing US troops to rape our women as part of their rest and recreation, to rape our environment with their nuclear-powered ships and toxic wastes, and most of all to rape our country’s national sovereignty,” said Gonzaga. 

Women workers ended today’s protest at Mendiola with a vow to intensify protests and resistance against the Aquino government, warning Aquino that should he push through with Cha-cha and the return of US military bases, they are prepared to rise up and fight for Aquino’s ouster.

Reference: Nenita “Nitz” Gonzaga, KMU vice-chair for women’s affairs, 0928-2794241




Kabataan Party-List
Rm. 616, North Wing, Batasang Pambansa, Quezon City
March 8, 2014


On International Women’s Day
Youth groups march against ‘rape of motherland’

Cong. Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist Representative (09155310725)
Marjohara Tucay, Kabataan Partylist National Media Officer (09202205556)

In commemoration of the International Women’s Day, youth groups march along with women’s rights advocates in Manila to protest the “rape of our motherland” through local and foreign exploitation.

“On Women’s Day, we seek not only to end all violence perpetrated against women but also to address the primordial roots of violence in our country – the continued and intensifying foreign exploitation of our sovereignty and environment,” said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon.

The youth legislator noted that Philippine sovereignty “is currently being challenged at all fronts,” with China encroaching on our territorial waters, the United States intensifying its military presence in the country, and the Philippine legislature seemingly willing to surrender our sovereignty through charter change.

“Not only are we facing military encroachment from both Beijing and Washington, but here in our very Congress, there is an ongoing move to surrender our sovereignty. With charter change resurrected in Congress, the rape of our motherland will undoubtedly intensify, with new economic provisions allowing the unbridled entry of foreign companies in the country to exploit our natural resources,” Ridon added.

Last Monday, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 principally authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. RHB 1 seeks to revise the Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), Article XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports), and Article XVI (General Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise specified by law” in pertinent sections.

“Why do we say that violence emanates from foreign intervention and exploitation? Throughout history, violence has been perpetrated by invaders upon conquest of new lands. From the Spaniards to the continuing domination of the Americans, our nation has continuously been beaten and persecuted to the point of subjugation,” Ridon said.

“With foreign troops continuing to march on our lands and seas, there is no end to violence. To end violence against women is therefore tantamount to expelling foreign intervention and defending our sovereignty from the hands of Beijing, Washington and even the local ruling elites,” Ridon added.

“Where foreign troops go, lives are lost, women are abused, and our sovereignty is raped. To end violence perpetrated against women and the country, we must rise up to the challenge – let us expel foreign troops and destructive multinational companies in the Philippines. Women and citizens of the country, unite!” Ridon challenged.###


The Women of the First Quarter Storm of 1970: Women "Fully Engaged in the Making of History
by Judy M. Taguiwalo
Department of Women and Development Studies
College of Social Work and Community Development
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Presentation to the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance Conference "Filipino-Canadian Youth Looking at the Past for the Future"
November 24-26, 2005
Vancouver, British Colombia


….We live our lives, we tell our stories. The dead continue to live by way of the resurrection we give them in telling their stories. The past becomes part of our present and thereby part of our future. We act individually and collectively in a process over time which builds the human enterprise and tries to give it meaning. Being human means thinking and feeling; it means reflecting on the past and visioning into the future. We experience; we give voice to that experience; others reflect on it and give it new form. That new form in turn, influences and shapes the way next generations experience their lives.

That is why history matters

Gerda Lerner, "Why History Matters" in Why History Matters, Life and Thought. Oxford University Press: New York, Oxford, 1997: 211

History matters. My generation gained inspiration from the study and rereading of Philippine history and the struggle and sacrifices of the heroes and heroines of the 1896 Philippine Revolution and the Philippine American war not as an academic undertaking but as part of the efforts of continuing the unfinished tasks of asserting national sovereignty and genuine democracy. 

Women's studies for its part has a unique niche in academe. Based on the premise of the reality of women's oppression and the need to advance women's position in society, women-centered research and teaching have the dual aims of scholarship and advocacy. 

The year 2005 commemorates 100 years of feminism in the Philippines and the 30th year of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. In 1905, "a group of prominent ladies of the times organized the Asociacion Feminista Filipina" . The character of the Asociacion Feminista Filipina, whose founding in June 2005 is considered the founding year of feminism in the Philippines, was predominantly welfare-oriented.The call for women's right to suffrage would be raised a year later, when Pura Villanueva Kalaw, the grandmother of Consuelo Ledesma-Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front, founded in 1906 the Asociacion Feminista Ilonga. It took over 30 years of vigorous organizing and campaigns by educated and elite women before the Filipino women would receive the right to vote in 1937. 

The First Quarter Storm of 1970 (FQS 1970) marks the series of widespread protests in Metro Manila against the then administration of Ferdinand Marcos and signified the resurgence of nationalist struggle in the country which has been dormant since the 50s. The ferment of the FQS would lead to a frenzy of organizing among the students, community youth, workers and farmers. The Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA),established in April 1970, brought together women activists who espoused women's liberation in the context of national liberation. The establishment of MAKIBAKA is considered a major landmark in the history of the women's movement in the country as it articulated the oppression suffered by Filipino women and the need for women's liberation through participation in the nationalist struggle. 

This paper will focus on MAKIBAKA. As a professor of women's studies in the University of the Philippines, as a student participant in the FQS of 1970 and as a founding member of MAKIBAKA, I would like to contribute to current efforts to end the invisibility of women in history and more importantly to reiterate that the path that MAKIBAKA pioneered remains the path to women's emancipation in the Philippines. 

I will be using two basic historical methods in the writing of this paper: review of written primary sources and my personal testimonial as a participant of the FQS of 1970 

Background of the FQS 

The 1960s saw the formation of a radical youth organization, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) which called for the radical restructuring of society. Its analysis of US imperialist, big comprador and big landlord collusion as the source of the backwardness of the country led to its adoption of a program for national democracy. The main contents of the program were the assertion of national sovereignty by ending US domination of the country and the attainment of genuine democracy through land distribution to the peasantry and ensuring political freedom for the broad masses of the people. 

Founded in 1964, KM went on to build a student reform movement in the universities on the basis of demands for lower tuition, improvement of student facilities and democratization of university governance. At the same time, it developed links with peasant and trade union leaders and organizations with progressive tendencies. It also initiated protest actions against Philippine involvement in the Vietnam work and established student-worker and student-peasant alliances through support for working class struggles for higher wages and lower land rent. 

By January 1970, the organizational groundwork of KM and Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK, an offshoot of a 1966 split within KM but which reestablished working relations with the latter by 1969) and the intensification of the economic hardship of the people due to runaway inflation caused by the overspending of the Marcos government in its 1969 reelection campaign, were conditions that gave birth to what is now called the First Quarter Storm of 1970. 

The widespread use of truncheons and teargas against young university students to break up the January 26, 1970 demonstration in front of Congress led to an indignation march on January 30 to the presidential palace which ended in the deaths of four students. 

The succeeding two months were marked by intense political mobilization and education. Rallies after rallies were held not only to denounce "police brutality" but to link it to fascism, US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. These demonstrations attended by tens of thousands of the youth from the various universities in Metro Manila and from the communities and factories became the fora for explaining the national democratic program as an alternative and for raising the option of revolutionary armed struggle to counter state violence. 

The First Quarter Storm of 1970 generated the widespread propagation of the basic problems of the Filipino people and the alternatives and methods espoused by the national democratic movement. It also produced thousands of youth activists who organized in the provinces and who integrated with the workers and peasants to lay the basis for the realization of a national and mass-based national democratic movement in the Philippines. And it led to the formation of a contemporary women's movement that forwarded the analysis that women's liberation is inextricably linked with national and class liberation. 

The formation of MAKIBAKA 

The national democratic youth organizations prior to the First Quarter Storm already recognized the need for drawing in the participation of women in the movement. A women's bureau was part of the organizational structure of the Kabataang Makabayan upon its formation in 1964. The need for a particular machinery for women is based on the movement's recognition of the particularity of women's oppression and on the political premise of the crucial need to draw the support of women for the movement as they comprise "half of the sky". Young female students and professionals joined Kabataang Makabayan and other youth organizations on the basis of the political program for national sovereignty and genuine democracy. The potential of women's emancipation through participation in the revolutionary struggle was borne out by information on strides women have made in countries where revolutions were victorious. However, even with the rise in the number of women members and the existence of a women's bureau within the youth organizations, theoretical and concrete practical work related to women's issues was limited. For example, the celebration of March 8 as International Women's Day would not be commemorated until 1971. 

The reemergence of a women's movement in the post-world war II period was marked by the formation in April 1970 of an all-women's group, the Malayang Kilusang ng Bagong Kababaihan (Free Movement of New Women) with the inspired acronym of MAKIBAKA which is the Filipino term for struggle. 

MAKIBAKA's formation was an offshoot of the broader political movement and was influenced by the activities of the women's liberation in the west that have been reported in the mainstream media. Women activists from the various national democratic youth organizations banded together to launch the first militant all-women activity, a picket of a major beauty contest which echoed a women's action in London in that year. This initial activity was significant not merely because of its all-women character but also because it raised for the first time a woman-specific issue; the commodification of women through beauty contests, a concern never before addressed by the national movement. As a result of this activity, several women activists decided to transform MAKIBAKA from its initial character as a loose coalition to a distinct all-women youth organization. 

Advancing the Women's Liberation Movement in the Philippines 

MAKIBAKA became one of the youth organizations espousing and propagating an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-fascist line in what was then called the "Second Propaganda Movement" recognizing its links with the "First Propaganda Movement" which was the precursor of the founding of the Katipunan and the 1896 Philippine revolution. MAKIBAKA's uniqueness was in its efforts to elaborate on the general statements that working class women suffer double oppression as members of their class and as women and that women can perform general and specific tasks in the movement. 

Ma. Lorena Barros, anthropology major from the University of the Philippines and a poet became MAKIBAKA's founding chair. In "Liberated Women: I", Laurie (Lorena Barros' nickname) wrote: 

"Women comprise more than half of the oppressed Filipino people and thus share with men a common burden of social and economic exploitation. In addition to class oppression, however, women suffer male oppression. This second type of oppression is justified by a feudal conservatism which relegates women to the category of domestic chattel, and by a decadent bourgeois misrepresentation of women as mere pleasurable objects.

…Notwithstanding this doubly oppressive condition, however, women comprise one of the most conservative sectors of Philippine society.

Conservative wives and mothers perform the very important social task of perpetuating the values of the old corrupt order. …(T)hey produce nice little girls who never dare to question what anyone in authority says, who themselves believe that women "should be seen, not heard, in short, …nice little girls who will be exactly like their mothers: quiet, obedient, passive and suffering their husbands' philandering and saintly acquiescence to the status quo."

(Ma Lorena Barros. "Liberated Women:I" in The Business Viewpoint, Sixth Issue, Vol. III, No. 2, 2nd semester 1970-71.UP College of Business Administration: 65

Lauri continued with an elaboration of what liberation of women meant:

It means first of all that since the exploitation of women both as members of the oppressed class and as a social group rests on an economic base, liberation entails a restructuring of the economic system and from there the superstructure which is built on. Liberation cannot consists merely of a "change of heart" in either the exploiter or exploited, a turnabout of values. Nor can liberation start from such a "change of heart"; rather it is change in the material conditions which will bring about a "change of hear".

Second, the broad masses of the Filipino people must first be liberated before any sector, such a women, can be liberated. The primary exploitative relation, that between the American imperialists and the landlord-comprador-bureaucrat capitalist allies on the one hand and the Filipino masses on the other, must first of all be destroyed. Only then can new energies be released which will set into motion the social forces necessary for the elimination of other exploitative relations and the construction of a truly, just, equalitarian society.

Third, the liberation of women will not be a boon granted to them by their male liberators; women must seize their freedom, women must fight for it, must smash their prison walls themselves. Otherwise, they will once more be beholden to men, captive to a new set of obligations. Moreover as Frantz Fanon has argued so well, it is only action, usually violent action which is liberating. (ibid:66-67)

Jose Ma. Sison's message to the First National Congress of MAKIBAKA in 1972 forwarded the analysis of the specific character and source of women's oppression in the Philippines and the current central task of the women's liberation movement

In a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country like the Philippines, it is inevitable that women like men suffer from the three systems of authority, such as political authority, clan authority and religious authority. In addition however, women suffer from the authority of the husband or what we may call "male authority". These four authorities that women have to contend with can easily be seen as expressions of the feudal-patriarchal ideology and system. Though in urban areas, there seems to be blatant reign of bourgeois ideas and values, perceived in their most decadent forms as bred by a cultural imperialism; the feudal-patriarchal ideology and system persists as a countrywide base for prejudices against women. Decades of modern imperialist culture lay over centuries of feudal patriarchalism in our history.

…..It is extremely important for the Women's Liberation Movement to grasp the line that political authority is the backbone of all the other systems of authority. By overturning that authority, we begin to overturn all the other systems. Political struggle, participating vigorously in the national democratic revolution now, is therefore the key link to the great cause of women's liberation. The Women's Liberation movement is basically a political struggle, with a revolutionary mass character. The political authority of foreign imperialism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism must be overthrown if Filipino women are to be liberated and achieve equality of the sexes

(Jose Ma. Sison "Message to Makibaka on the Women's Liberation Movement", in Struggle for National Democracy, Amado V. Hernandez Memorial Foundation, 1972 edition:

The New Filipina "Engaged in the Making of History" 

For many young women activists of the FQS, membership in MAKIBAKA and other youth organizations brought home the point raised by Jose Ma. Sison particularly the point that "political struggle, participating vigorously in the national democratic revolution now, is therefore the key link to the great cause of women's liberation." We experienced the liberating effects of political participation as we went beyond women's place and roles traditionally upheld in Philippine society. 

Ma. Lorena Barros, in "Liberated Women: II described the new Filipina emerging from her participation in the national struggle:

…The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant…

…The new Filipina is one who can stay whole days and nights with striking workers, learning from them the social realities which her bourgeois education has kept from her….. She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history…No longer is she a woman- for- marriage, but more and more a woman-for-action.

(Ma. Lorena Barros, "Liberated Women II"in Pugad Lawin, Taon 18 Blg 3, Enero-Pebrero 1971: 32

To be a militant meant embracing nationalism beyond the externals of wearing the barong tagalog or dancing the tinikling but embracing nationalism as the continuation of the historic struggle of our Filipino forefathers and foremothers for national independence. It meant studying and understanding the roots of the problems in Philippine society and choosing radical change as the means to resolve these problems. This meant participation in collective actions to bring about changes in Philippine society. 

Clearly, the woman militant, the new Filipina's ultimate destination was not as "ilaw ng tahanan", but as an equal of men in the struggle to end foreign and feudal exploitation and oppression. By opting to be part of the national democratic struggle, the women activists of the FQS of 1970 became, as Laurie put it, "engaged in the making of history". 

MAKIBAKA provided the woman's voice and viewpoint in the rallies and demonstrations from 1970 until the declaration of martial rule in September 1972. Members marched, acted as marshalls during demonstrations, painted steamers and wrote placards, operated the mimeograph machines, organized chapters, led mass meetings, joined workers' strikes and learned from the farmers. It began work with mothers in a number of urban poor communites in Manila and set up day care centers and conducted mother's classes on child care practices. It continued to articulate the progressive women's opposition to activities such as beauty contests and fashion shows that degrade women. 

Women activists also planned and held the first outdoor International Women's Day commemoration in the Philippines when it launched the Women's March Against Poverty on March 8, 1971. The only other commemoration in the Philippines recorded was the March 8, indoor forum in 1934 sponsored by the Liga ng Kababaihang Pilipina (source: ) 

Resurrecting the past to give it contemporary relevance was also an agenda of the militant women's movement. It was the Makibaka women in Iloilo who in 1972 prior to the declaration of martial rule, went to Pototan, the hometown of Teresa Magbanua, the Ilongga generala of the 1896 Revolution, and revived interest in the heroine to such a degree that the main street of the town was renamed after Henerala Isay1. 

The declaration of martial law in September 21, 1972 ended the growing open protest movement in the cities. Progressive organizations, including MAKIBAKA, were declared illegal and their members were arrested or went underground to participate in other forms of organizations and other forms of struggles. 


The existence of the pre-martial law MAKIBAKA was brief-only two and a half years since its founding in April 1970 to its illegalization in September 1972. But its impact on the women's movement in the Philippines continues to be felt. 

Reviews of the women's movement in the Philippines cannot but cite the significance of MAKIBAKA2. 

More importantly, its core message of women's liberation as inextricably linked with national and class liberation remains alive in the analysis and demands of the legal but militant women's movement in the Philippines represented by GABRIELA.

I would like to believe that MAKIBAKA's story as I am retelling it now will be something you, Filipino Canadian youth would "reflect on and give new form" as you yourselves become or are engaged in "making history." 



1 I was part of the group women activists who went to Pototan, Iloilo in 1972 and talked to the descendants of Henerala Isay. 

2 See for example Rosario del Rosario "Filipino Working Women 1913-1985" in The Filipino Woman in Focus, A Book of Readings, Amaryllis T. Torres (ed) UP Office of Research Coordination, UP Press, Quezon City, 1995 (2nd edition): 64, Aurora Javate de Dios, "Participation of Women's Groups in the Anti-Dictatorship Struggle: Genesis of a Movement" in Women's Role in Philippine History: Selected Essays, University Center for Women's Studies, University of the Philippines:Quezon City 1996 (2nd edition): 144-146, Aida Santos , Juliet de Lima 


Barros, Ma. Lorena. "Liberated Woman: I" in The Business Viewpoint, Sixth Issue, Vol. III, No. 2, 2nd semester 1970-71.UP College of Business Administration: 64-67 

Barros, Ma. Lorena. "Liberated Women II"in Pugad Lawin, Taon 18 Blg 3, Enero-Pebrero 1971: 32