Thursday, April 02, 2009

National Democratic Filipino Youth Join Forces in LA

Photo courtesy of Maridel Andrada of Anakbayan San Diego

02 April 2009

Jonna Baldres, Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey,
Katie Joaquin, Secretary General, Anakbayan East Bay,
Maridel Andrada, Secretary General, Anakbayan San Diego,
Jeff Rice, Secretary General, Anakbayan Seattle,
Kuusela Hilo, Organizer, Anakbayan Los Angeles,
Jaye Cho, Secretary General, League of Filipino Students-SFSU,

National Democratic Filipino Youth Join Forces in LA

LOS ANGELES, CA - The City of Angels had been a witness to the growing movement of Filipino youth in the United States. Last March 27 to 28, the BAYAN USA 3rd National Congress was held at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center in Los Angeles City, California with the theme "Strengthen our alliance and intensify our political struggle against the US-Arroyo clique and for the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US".

Among the participating youth and student organizations were chapters of Anakbayan from East Bay (EB), San Diego (SD), Seattle, Los Angeles (LA) and New York/New Jersey (NY/NJ) and the League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University (LFS-SFSU). Also present were US representatives to the International League of People's Struggle (ILPS) Youth Study Commission. Officers of Sandiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth and members of Active Leadership for the Advancement of Youth (ALAY), a community-based youth organization in the Bay Area, San Francisco also attended as observers.

"Two years have passed since the last congress and here we are again -- stronger, bigger and more united than ever," Yancy Gandionco, Vice Chairperson of Anakbayan NY/NJ remarked as the congress had seen the largest number of delegates since the founding assembly of BAYAN USA in 2005.

On March 29, while the GABRIELA USA Founding Assembly was taking place, BAYAN USA member organizations broke out into sector caucuses, one of which is the youth and students sector, the biggest constituting BAYAN USA.

"Even though our sector represents the most number in the US chapter of the alliance, as Filipino youth fighting for national democracy overseas, the task and challenge is still for us to intensify and make known to our compatriots and other nationalities the fight for the rights of the majority of the Filipino people -- the workers and the peasants. We believe that our fight is still connected to the fight of our people back home even if most of us grew here in the US," Sincere Born, Chairperson of Anakbayan Seattle stated.

During the caucus, the youth and student organizations shared experiences and practices in educating, organizing, mobilizing, finance and alliance work among the youth in their respective regions.

"We identified the strengths and weaknesses of each organization, shared them with other regions, and with renewed vigor, we will bring back to our own areas what we've learned and improve on practices so we could better serve the Filipino youth, here in the US and back home in the Philippines. We view these lessons as important tools in strengthening our fight against the oppression of our people by the US imperialist and the Arroyo regime," said Armael Malinis, Chairperson of Anakbayan East Bay.

The youth and student member organizations resolved to systematize communications, hold regular conference calls, share resources and educational materials, plan and hold nationwide actions for Filipino youth in line with the campaigns of BAYAN USA, and designate a youth coordinator within the next few months.

Lyle Prijoles, Chairperson of LFS-SFSU said, "In this period wherein corruption, pursuit of profit, wars of aggression and anti-terrorism are the concepts being advanced by the United States and Philippine governments at the expense of accessible and quality education and basic services, the Filipino youth in the US must come together and emulate the militancy of the Filipino youth in the 1950's when huge student demonstrations broke out in protest of the Vietnam war and in the 1960's and 70's when Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth) organized in thousands against the Marcos dictatorship."

As BAYAN USA's show of confidence on the youth, the congress placed its votes unanimously on Kuusela Hilo of Anakbayan Los Angeles, Rhonda Ramiro of Anakbayan East Bay, and Jeff Rice of Anakbayan Seattle as they were elected into the Executive Committee as Vice Chairperson, Secretary General and Finance Officer respectively.

Ivan Penetrante, Chairperson of the newly-formed Anakbayan San Diego said, "Our chapter, being in the midst of one of the highly-militarized areas in the US, is a product of the painstaking organizing of member organizations of BAYAN USA. Now that we've met more of our ates (older sister) and kuyas (older brother) from different parts of the US, we are more inspired to continue the fight and organize more youth to join our ranks."

Ending the youth caucus, Yves Nibungco, Deputy Secretary General of Anakbayan NY/NJ, led the chant popularized by the youth and students movement in the Philippines: "Kabataang Makabayan, Lumalaban! Kabataang Lumalaban, Makabayan!" (Patriotic Youth, Fighting Back! Youth Fighting Back, Patriotic!). ###

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