1999 Vol.8, No.3
The New Millenium: Towards a Just
and Lasting Peace
By Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial
As Filipino women in Canada, we join countless other women around
the globe who long for a just and lasting peace. Women have historically
been in the forefront of the struggle for peace through their
continuing resistance against the roots of their oppression. Yet
at the dawn of a new millenium, our reality is anything but peaceful.
Instead, we live in an unjust and violent reality where the majority
of our women suffer from poverty, underdevelopment and forced
migration. It is important for us to understand the roots of our
diaspora, so that we can take concrete steps towards building
a just and lasting peace for ourselves and our future generations.
Poverty, displacement, commodification and modern-day slavery
The roots of our unjust and violent reality lie in our homeland,
the Philippines. As a Third World semi-colonial and semi-feudal
country, the Philippines is in a state of chronic economic crisis.
Prices of basic necessities keep going up, while wages are being
pushed down. This situation hits Filipino women and children the
hardest since they comprise the majority of the poorest classes
of Filipino society - the workers and the peasants. According
to GABRIELA Philippines (the militant national alliance of womens
organizations), Either women have no jobs or they are employed
in the most exploitative conditions of work...Peasant women are
being displaced from their land both by foreign-owned development
projects and militarization.
"Thus, Filipino women experience
myriad forms of socio-economic violence which are rooted in the
systemic problems of foreign domination, domestic feudalism and
In the city, women find themselves having to defend their homes
from being demolished. (from Jobs, Land, Homes for
Women, Not VFA, GABRIELA Press Release, July 23, 1998) Thus,
Filipino women experience myriad forms of socio-economic violence
which are rooted in the systemic problems of foreign domination,
domestic feudalism and elite control.
Foreign domination is once again manifesting itself through increasing
militarization with the recent ratification of the Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) with the United States on May 27, 1999. This is
an urgent concern for Filipino women the world over. The VFA is
a military pact which gives the U.S. licence to occupy all or
any part of the Philippines for any length of time. Knowing the
tragic experience of Filipino women during the time of the Subic
Bay / Clark U.S. military bases and set in the context of poverty
and displacement, the VFA will surely increase the numbers of
women and children forced into prostitution for survival. There
are already 400,000 prostituted women and 100,000 prostituted
children in the Philippines. The number of cases of abandoned
Amerasian children, of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
and of violent rapes and other crimes against women is all bound
to multiply. The global trafficking of Filipino women will also
expand. Having militantly rejected the U.S. military bases in
1991, the struggle of Filipino women and children against militarization
and for peace has been definitely setback by the VFA.
It is precisely this situation of poverty and underdevelopment
which drives over 2,000 Filipinos (55% of whom are women) to leave
the country every day. Pushed by the Labour Export Policy (LEP)
of the U.S.-Estrada regime, migrant Filipinos now number over
7 million in 182 countries worldwide.
the majority of Filipino women in Canada, we continue our daily
struggle for survival. We often find ourselves in low-paying jobs,
which still resemble domestic work.
Their remittances reach over $7 billion U.S. per year, helping
to prop up an ailing Philippine economy. When they get to the
receiving countries like Canada, Filipino women find
themselves in a continuing spiral of poverty, marginalization
and isolation. For the majority of Filipino women in Canada, we
continue our daily struggle for survival. We often find ourselves
in low-paying jobs, which still resemble domestic work. We are
often the principal breadwinners for our families, yet because
of the impact of de-skilling and systemic racism we are not allowed
to make full use of our skills, education and experience. We are
often denied access to social services, such as affordable housing,
quality health care and educational assistance. Even the young
women in our community struggle with economic hardship, discrimination
and other social problems stemming from the difficulty in integrating
into the mainstream of Canadian society. Thus, our harsh reality
in Canada - constructed and maintained by the economic system
- is still fundamentally unjust.
Towards a just and lasting peace
Based on our reality as Filipino women, it is clear that we do
not live in an era of peace. Can our situation be
truly described as peaceful when we experience so
much injustice and poverty? In our history as a people, women
have been continuously struggling for a just and lasting peace.
At the eve of the last millenium, Filipino women fought against
U.S. military aggression during the Philippine-American War (which
began in 1899). Now, at the dawn of the new millenium, Filipino
women continue to oppose U.S. military presence in the Philippines
and the VFA. Our continuing resistance against the root causes
of our oppression is an integral part of the struggle for a just
and lasting peace.
the Centre UPdate as a means of empowerment and education of the
community. Since it's early beginings the Centre UPdate has been
the voice marginalized Filipino women in Canada.
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