<<< *note: the below was originally delivered as a talk at THIS Human Rights Day event in Toronto >>>

*HRday2014-v3.002

photo by afelipe

2014 has been a hellava year.  We have seen our communities besieged by horrible new atrocities, the continuance of others, and the growth of public rage.  From the continuing occupation of Palestine, to the never-ending war on terror.  From the police impunity seen in the the murders of Michael Brown & Eric Garner, to the continuation of the two tiered justice system for our First Nations sisters and brothers.

Meanwhile in the Philippines climate change disasters, partner with militarization, the return of US bases, attacks on activists and the poor, and a worsening economy to increase the peoples suffering. And here in Canada (where the Philippines has been the number one source country for migrants since 2009) we’ve seen legal changes that seek to punish migrant workers for the sacrifices they are forced to make due to poverty

Against all this our peoples have been fighting back.  Through acts of anger and acts of organized resistance. (more…)

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Juanas body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International
Juana’s body is welcomed home by family and Migrante International

A ‘Strong Spirit’ Returns Home

by alex felipe, Special to the Star (21 Mar 2009)

MANILA – After six years, Juana Tejada finally made her long-dreamed-of-return to the Philippines yesterday afternoon.

But instead of walking into the arms of her parents, Tejada’s family watched as a forklift delivered her body, in a cardboard box, from a warehouse at the Manila airport. The nanny who became a foreign workers’ advocate died of cancer in Toronto on March 8.

(more…)

Olivia with Juana and her husband Noli.

Yesterday Migrante-Ontario, the Independent Worker’s Association (IWA), and associated groups celebrated Juana Tejada’s successful fight to gain permanent residence status. Juana is the live-in caregiver (LCP) that was denied status twice after she was discovered to have terminal cancer and deemed a burden to the Canadian healthcare system. (more…)

Juana Tejada, the Filipina caregiver with terminal cancer that fought against her deportation and won, is an inspiration to caregivers and the Filipino community at large. Come celebrate her victory with her next Sunday (24 Aug), and join in the new campaign to ensure what happens to her doesn’t happen to anyone else. (more…)

Just a little gentle prodding and Canadians are tripping over with racist glee. All someone had to do is use the right politically correct code words for racism in the 21st century.

Canadians are too polite to tell the gooks to go home, that just wouldn’t seem right. (more…)

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It was wet, really wet, but I’m glad I was there to spend some time with some of my kababayans [countymen] at a campsite near Guelph, Ontario.

There were about fifty people there, caregivers on their one weekly day off, and members of Migrante-Ontario (and it’s member groups). It says alot about the Filipino people how high spirits were despite the weather and the difficult lives in which they live.

Filipina’s make up over 95% of the live-in caregivers in Canada, despite their struggles, most Canadians (including Canadian born Filipinos), know little about them. (more…)

Happy Canada Day all!

Of course Canada has been a blessing for many Filipinos (the 4th largest visible minority in the country). It has provided us with opportunities that we would be hard pressed to find in the Philippines. I remember my first visit back home in 2001 when I saw how my relatives lived and I often still think about what would have become of me and my family had we stayed.

[above: my uncle’s neighbourhood, a squatter area by active train tracks in Manila. I lived here for four months in 2001 (photo from 2005).]

Of course all of our experiences are unique and with a community as large as ours the stories of migration vary widely, but when you look at the big picture a heart wrenching reality emerges. (more…)