Anakbayan-USA expresses solidarity with Black community


SEATTLE, WA — Expressing their solidarity with the Black community on Martin Luther King Day last January 18, 2016, members of Anakbayan-USA rallied with the local Black community community to protest against a marijuana shop whose owner is pushing the historically Black community out of Seattle’s Central District through gentrification. The rally came at the heel of Anakbayan-USA’s recently concluded Second National Congress starting January 16, 2016 in Seattle.

Anakbayan believes that it is necessary to strengthen international solidarity because injustices against the Black community are linked to state repression against Filipinos, both in the US and the Philippines. The displacement of Black and Native American communities in the US is perpetrated by the same business interests that displace urban poor as well as indigenous communities across the Philippines.

Inspired by its growth across the United States, the Congress had for its theme: Upsurge! Unite the Youth to Fight for Our Liberation! One hundred fifty delegates represented 11 Anakbayan chapters from Seattle, East Bay (Oakland), Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, San Diego, Long Beach, Chicago, New York, and New Jersey, including affiliate organization, League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University. The theme recognizes the need for continuing to expand and strengthen the US-based Anakbayan as an organization to wage campaigns that address the urgent needs and interests of the most oppressed of the Filipino community in the United States. All members are tasked to make strong connections between local issues to the struggle for national and social liberation in the Philippines.

In spite of being in detention, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultants Benito and Wilma Austria Tiamzon were able to deliver their keynote message to the Congress participants. Apart from the Tiamzons’ address, messages included an analysis of the international political and economic situation by Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggles; a livestream analysis of the current political situation in the Philippines from Vencer Crisostomo, Chairperson of Anakbayan Philippines; and a solidarity statement by Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian activist and former associate director of the Arab American Action Network.

The voting delegates also approved the next three-year General Program of Action, garnered lessons from the National Executive Committee reports, approved three resolutions, and elected a new National Executive Committee. Elected were Adrian Bonifacio of Anakbayan Silicon Valley as Chairperson, Napoleon Pempeña of Anakbayan Los Angeles as Vice Chairperson, Joelle Eliza Lingat of Anakbayan New Jersey as Secretary General, Lyle Prijoles of LFS-SFSU as Education Officer, Nikki Caintic of Anakbayan Seattle as Finance Officer, and Lorena Buñi of Anakbayan Chicago as Solidarity Officer.

“Now is the time to take our organizing to a new level,” said Adrian Bonifacio, newly-elected National Chairperson of Anakbayan-USA. “As oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people worsens, we must fight back even harder by integrating with our communities, learning their problems, and waging campaigns with them to address the root issues of their struggles.”

The Second National Congress concluded with a group oath-taking and singing of progressive Filipino songs. Later that evening, Anakbayan-USA hosted a cultural night, Strength of the Youth: A Kultural Solidarity Night. Performances centered on the Stop Lumad Killings campaign, Education is a Human Right campaign, and the experiences of Filipino youth across the US. A portion of the funds raised that weekend went to the Save Our Schools Network to support Lumad communities in Mindanao that are struggling to defend their land and education. #