Jersey City Community Calls to Relief, Rebuild, and Remember on Haiyan 2nd Anniversary

Statements 11112015.002

For Immediate Release
Press Statement

November 8, 2015

Reference:

Daniel Valentin, President, Asian American Student Union at Saint Peter’s University

201.205.6389, dvalentin@mail.saintpeters.edu

Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey

470.309.2265, anakbayannj@gmail.com

Jersey City Community Calls to Relief, Rebuild, and Remember on Haiyan 2nd Anniversary

Various community and student groups held “Typhoon Haiyan Second Anniversary: Relief, Rebuild, Remember,” a special mass and a vigil at St. Aedan’s Parish on November 8, marking the second anniversary of super typhoon Haiyan. Participants called for the continued awareness on the ongoing struggles of typhoon survivors as well as the need for climate justice.

The mass was conducted by Father Rocco Danzi, Director of Campus Ministry, at Saint Aedan’s Church, a vigil at Panepinto Plaza, and a discussion in the Student Center’s Campus Ministry and the vigil was organized by the Asian American Student Union (AASU) of Saint Peter’s University, Anakbayan New Jersey (ABNJ). This commemoration is part of a national week of action called by the national Fil-Am youth and student relief network, Kapit Bisig Kabataan Network (KBKN).

On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in central Philippines.For the past two years, the world has stood in witness to the aftermath of one of the strongest and deadliest typhoon ever recorded. Typhoon Haiyan left an estimated 10,000 people, affected 11 million Filipinos and more than one million homeless.

“Jersey City, though half way across the globe, still remembers typhoon Haiyan and continues to stand in solidarity with the survivors. We join the call for justice for the victims of government neglect. We also call on our government leaders to act on the climate crisis,” said Laura Emily E. Austria, ABNJ. Jersey City is home to more than 20,000 Filipinos, one of the largest population of Filipinos in the east coast.

Throughout the mass, Father Rocco commemorated the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in song and scripture. During his homily, he remarked that unlike CNN and other mass media, the community must be committed to remembering the tragedy and acting in solidarity with the survivors that still struggle. Denise Yzabel Salonga Cateron, a student at Saint Peter’s University and member of the choir, offered a personal prayer in Tagalog at the close of the mass. $250 was raised in through a special second collection to contribute to the National Alliance of Filipino Concern’s Typhoon Lando relief efforts.

The vigil was attended by members of 350.org, Pax Christi, Gabriela New York, Food and Water Watch New Jersey, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Saint Aedan’s Parish, and the larger Jersey City community. In addition to solidarity statements and personal testimonies, participants were invited to respond to a posterboard prompting, “How has ‘natural disasters’ impacted your life?” Responses connected the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy along the Jersey shore and persistent flooding in Wayne, NJ. The vigil was closed as Kate Angeles, Saint Peter’s University student, Vice President of Schola, and Jersey City resident offered the song, “Hindi Kita Malilimutan.”

The discussion featured a report back by recent missioners to disaster-stricken areas of the Philippines on the 2015 KBKN relief and rebuild mission. They shared photographs accompanied with stories of survivors’ personal accounts of the gravity of the situation on the ground. Although there is loss of livelihood, threats of demolition, and corporate use of No Dwelling Zones, the missioners also shared messages of hope. Peoples Surge, an organization of Typhoon Haiyan survivors, is leading a concerted effort to protest economic policies that favors profit over the wellbeing of the people and the environment through protest of APEC and the TPPA and appeals to the upcoming COP21 in Paris.

I felt that the Discussion portion of last nights event affected me the most because it was the most informative and most intimate. I was glad we were able to have a short hand experience through the KBKN missioners on what life was like in the Philippines after the Super Typhoon, and how mentally traumatizing the events that occurred are, till this day.” said Daniel Valentin, President of AASU.

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“Reflecting on my journey back to the Philippines, my exposure trip was the single most solidifying experience for me,” said Daniel Santiago, KBKN missioner. Going back allowed me to not only reinforce why I am fighting and struggling towards the liberation of our People, but truly were on the grounds living, experiencing, and hearing directly from the People. No media twisting, no political propaganda from the government, but hearing firsthand what the people are experiencing. From the landlessness and being pushed off of lands their families have worked for over a century, to the lack of governmental response and deficiencies of NGO’s after “natural” disasters, as well as the militarization of indigenous communities. Here we risk our comfort to support our People, back home they risk harassment, threats, and even death to fight for the human rights of our People. To truly see the true conditions that not only the Philippine government propagate, but the United States government has on our homeland. One must take the pilgrimage back home to have a sincere understanding that it is not just “More Fun in the Philippines” as tourism advertises, but that our People are struggling. If we are truly proud to be Filipino, we must take the good and beautiful aspects with the bad and the ugly to fight genuinely towards making sure our People and our land one day can see true independence and freedom.”

Despite the international clamor for support for Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the immediate aftermath, there has not been much progress in the past two years. “Typhoon donations get funneled to the Philippines through government agencies, therefore creating room for pilfering and disparity. What little is left is not distributed fairly to those most affected by disaster. Many are left with minimal monetary support and are forced to live in temporary housing on no-build zones. Often, monetary donations do not correspond to need, leaving many displaced and distressed,” said Devyn Manibo of ABNJ and Typhoon Haiyan commemoration committee member. “Two years has shown that the survivors will be in a perpetual state of disaster unless there is an overhaul of the government ineptitude,” Manibo continued. Most recent reports allege that survivors are dying in the bunkhouses and still lack access to social services as public institutions on health and education are being used for public-private partnership schemes.

“As AASU and ABNJ, we call upon on the Filipino American community to stand firm with the disaster survivors to intensify demands for justice and accountability and an end to the climate crisis. It is important that we, as youth and students, acknowledge Super Typhoon Haiyan as a warning for our world that will forever will go down in history. While they call it a “natural disaster” we will not be lied to by mass media. It is natural for an archipelagic nation to undergo periods of typhoons, but the extent of the most recent waves of typhoons is due to man-made causes. Global warming, carbon pollution, and social exploitation has entered us into the age of Super Typhoons and a climate crisis that will only continue to increase in severity. The warnings and candles are no longer enough, we echo the survivors’ calls for accountability, livelihood and justice now!” Laura Emily Austria of ABNJ concluded.

End the climate crisis!
Peoples’ survival is non-negotiable!

Remember Haiyan!

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Honor in the Line of Fire: Why our protest against the Philippine president is justified

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“The line of fire is a place of honor.”

–Lean Alejandro, Youth Activist in the Philippines

In the spirit of the countless generations of progressive and militant activists that have dared to stand up to state repression in the Philippines, community organizers here in the United States chose to confront Philippine President BS Aquino during his (unwelcome) visit to both New York City and San Francisco. On September 23rd, three activists publicly criticized Aquino and his failures to the Filipino people during a forum held by Columbia University. A protest led by the organizations of which these activists are a part was held simultaneously outside the university hall. On September 24th, progressive organizations based in the Bay Area rallied outside of a Wells Fargo building that Aquino was in. Anakbayan Silicon Valley (ABSV) holds the utmost respect for the individuals and organizations that stood in the line of fire to oppose and expose the crimes of the Aquino administration, and we are honored to call these people our kasamas, our comrades.

The actions at Columbia University and the streets of San Francisco are not isolated events, nor are they the work of any one individual, as the mainstream media paints them to be. A history of oppression faced by the Filipino people has led to the the formation of organizations that represent all sectors of society, from workers to peasants, youth to educators, womyn to queer-identified, and everything in between. Those that confronted Aquino last week are members of such organizations here in the US, and they have been championing the rights and welfare of Filipinos both in the Philippines and in the US for years. ABSV has been organizing in the South Bay not only to protest the criminal negligence and state repression led by the Philippine government, but also to address the issues facing Filipino youth in our communities.

Our collective anger, and the actions that result, stem from centuries of colonial exploitation of the Filipino people, decades of rule by a Philippine state that has chosen profits over people, and generations of families torn apart by forced migration due to landlessness and joblessness in the Philippines. In the last four years of Aquino’s administration alone, we have seen this violence time and time again.

We have seen it in the more than 200 victims of extrajudicial killings and more than 600 victims of illegal arrest and detention.

We have seen it in the failed government response to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, both in the immediate aftermath and in the current conditions on the ground.

We have seen it in the money going into Aquino’s pockets as presidential pork barrel, money that could have been spent for the people.

We have seen it in the continued promotion of a labor export policy that treats people as remittance-generating commodities.

And we have seen it in the government’s blatant denial of national sovereignty for the Filipino people by re-opening US military bases, and by continuing to open the country to foreign industries that do not respect the human rights of the people.

Our demands for genuine change in the Philippines are rooted in this violence. We have an undeniable reason to yell. We have an undeniable reason to rise up. And we have an undeniable right to confront an individual who has played such a large part in countless crimes against the Filipino people. We cannot confine our calls for justice to a Q&A session. We will not wait in a queue. To do so would disrespect the gravity of the struggle faced by our kababayan and their clamor for a society that upholds and protects their rights. And it is the people to whom we should be showing our respect. Should President Aquino seek to be treated with respect, he must earn it first.

ABSV’s current campaign, Project FLAME (Filipinos Leading A Movement for Empowerment), seeks to provide an opportunity for youth to voice their struggles outside the confines of a classroom, as the brave activists in New York and San Francisco have done. Through a storytelling project within the campaign, we are organizing our community to speak out against the educational violence they face: lack of adequate college admissions guidance; the increasing costs of tuition, even in public schools; the student debt crisis; the inability of youth to find stable jobs to sustain themselves; and the ever increasing dropout rate of Filipino youth due to institutional obstacles. These issues are not isolated from those in the Philippines, with the US spending exponentially more on the military than on our education. This same military budget is going to increased military aid to and military presence in the Philippines, which again have led to countless human rights violations. Whether in the Philippines or in the US, Filipinos are suffering from a system that serves the interests of the minority rather than the majority.

Until the people’s demands are answered, we will continue to educate, organize, and protest, whether inside a university hall or out on the streets. We hope that more people will be emboldened by the actions of our fellow kasamas, if not to join us in protest, then at least to have conversations with us to understand why these protests are organized to begin with. The people’s struggle is not a mere shouting match, it is not a rude interruption. It is a place where the most marginalized and oppressed can speak freely. It is an honorable place to be.

JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TYPHOON HAIYAN!
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF STATE REPRESSION!
SHAME ON BS AQUINO!
CONTINUE THE PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE IN THE PHILIPPINES!

Forum on Temporary Protected Status for Philippines Now

TPSNowForum

WHAT: Community Forum on TPS for Filipinos and 
Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan
 
WHEN: Saturday, February 8th, 2014, 5-7pm
 
WHERE: Pope Lecture Hall – Saint Peter’s University
2641 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07306
 
SPONSORED BY: Taskforce Haiyan NJ &
St. Peter’s University Social Justice Program
 

It has been over two months since super typhoon Haiyan devastated the eastern region of the Philippines and left massive devastation to livelihood and lives. Throughout this time, our communities have come together to help out in solidarity with the typhoon survivors.

Anakbayan NJ recently initiated Taskforce Haiyan NJ, part of a national network that campaigns for sustained fundraising and relief for the Philippines.  We are inviting you to learn about Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Filipinos Now Campaign, and how you can get involved.


*If granted by the Department of Homeland Security, TPS would grant immigration relief to Filipinos here in the U.S. One of the objectives of the campaign is extensive public education to address the Filipino community’s concerns about the possible program.

On behalf of the Taskforce, we would like to invite you to a public educational forum being held on the 3rd month since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines.

Thank you for your continued support!

For more information, visit:
Taskforce Haiyan- http://taskforcehaiyan.org/
TPS for Filipinos– http://immigranation.com/tps-for-philippines-now/