Pinay sa Seattle-GABRIELA USA, a grass-roots all volunteer political women’s collective, had their debut week of “Summer Nights with Pinay” at the Filipino Community Center (FCC) from Aug 17-21. Having set up their office at the FCC in July, Pinay sa Seattle opened their doors wide for the community by organizing a week of programming which was open to everyone. Each night addressed a different theme at the core of their political work.
From Monday through Wednesday, Pinay sa Seattle offered educational programming. The first day centered on Filipina heroines, few of whom can be read about in traditional history books, and an introduction to GABRIELA. Pinay sa Seattle’s campaigns team also presented on Health Care Reform. They educated the public about the current debate and why this Filipina women’s organization stands behind the single-payer option. By the middle of the week, Pinay sa Seattle was examining Filipina demographics, why there are such high numbers of Filipino migrants and the trends that led to the community we have in the Pacific Northwest today.
In the United States, there are nearly four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans. Pinay sa Seattle’s program about our local demographics began with a conversation about the root causes of migration. They exposed the Labor Export Policies that have encouraged one million Filipinos to leave the Philippines annually and how the nation relies more on remittances than on developing its economy and social programs. Community members shared their own families’ experiences of migration, deskilling in the United States and economic struggles. During the evening, a participant commented, “This information really puts my family’s story in perspective.”
The end of the week-long program was a little lighter, featuring community-building activities. On August 20, Pinay sa Seattle hosted a movie night, showing short films available online about the mobilizations and political work that the organization has been involved with. Justice campaigns for rape victims of U.S. soldiers stationed in the Philippines were highlighted while participants discussed the lack of information that many community members have on these critical issues.
Summer Nights with Pinay closed with a barbeque and celebration with community, family and friends at Seward Park. It was an energetic closing to a week-long political open house for this emerging Filipina women’s organization.