Women and other groups gathered at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City Sunday afternoon to participate in the annual One Billion Rising (OBR) global campaign on violence against women.
On its ninth year, the OBR worldwide is themed “Rising Gardens” to underscore the need for food security for the poor, especially women.
This year’s event in Quezon City was highlighted by the exchange of vegetable seedlings among participants to symbolize the women’s sector call for food security as well as a Php10,000 cash assistance for poor families.
The organizers said that aside from their continuing demand for an end to violence against women, they are intensifying their call for food security, livelihood, accessible health services and justice as the pandemic and worsening economic crisis batter the poor.
“The spread of the coronavirus exposed [the] worsened inadequacies in the delivery of public health and [other] social services in a neoliberal economic system. The militarized lockdown, one of the longest and harshest in the world, has caused an unprecedented crisis, with millions out of work and deprived of livelihood,” GABRIELA secretary general Joms Salvador said.
Established in 2012 by playwright Eve Ensler and held annually across the globe on February 14, OBR has since become the biggest continuing global mass action in history.
Instead of celebrating a commercialized Valentine’s Day, the OBR gathers hundreds of thousands of women and supporters to join dance protests against violence against women.
OBR is also celebrated in key cities across the country, including Baguio, Iloilo and Davao.
OBR global director and artist Monique Wilson said country directors all over the world decided to highlight the need for food security amid worsening social injustices this year.
“The theme Rising Gardens is a huge political resistance against violence against women and the violence of food insecurity, poverty, tyranny and the marginalization of women,” Wilson said.
Community garden destroyed
In her speech, Wilson pointed out that a community garden in Marikina City was destroyed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sunday morning, depriving the community called Olandes harvestable vegetables.
In posts on her Facebook account, Gabriela member Lita Malundras reported that heavy machinery bulldozed a community garden that Wilson herself helped establish.
“Ang bigat ng makita mo ngayong araw ng mga puso ang kawalan ng puso ng mga nasa gobyerno ang sirain ang pananim na pinaghirapan at ginastusan ng mahihirap. Ang lupa na dapat pinagkukunan ng pagkain. Walang awang tinatabunan,” Malundras said.
(It is heartbreaking that in this day of hearts, the heartless in government destroyed the crops painstakingly planted by the poor. The land that should for food production, they heartlessly filled up.)
“Nakakaiyak na makita ang mga tao na pinapanuod na lang ang mga sasakyan na sumisira sa mga halaman na kanilang pinagkukunan ng pagkain sa araw araw. Bukas darating si (Secretary Mark) Villar ng DPWH at (Secretary Frank) Cimatu ng DENR, kaya daw minamadali nila upang makita ang kautusan ng mga hari. Isigaw natin ang walang katarungan na ginagawa sa mga mahihirap,” she added.
(We are in tears seeing the people helplessly looking at machines destroying crops for their daily sustenance. Tomorrow, Villar and Cimatu are coming. They are rushing things so the kings may see their orders followed. We must tell everyone of the injustices they are doing to the poor.)
The DPWH and the DENR are reportedly undertaking preparatory work for future construction projects along the banks of the Marikina River. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)