The Sentosa case is one of the many cases that highlight the trend of exploitation of Filipino labor in America through contract fraud and work trafficking. Carlos Bulosan was promised socioeconomic when he came to the US in pursuit of the American dream during the 1930s. Soon after moving to America, he realized that for him, the American dream would be just that—a dream. He constantly experienced racial discrimination and was forced to endure severely underpaid working conditions.
Recent history shows a continuous trend of American industries to exploit workers of Filipino descent. Anakbayan USA (with the financial help of Citi) continues to expose these exploitations and how they are related to the imperialist relationship that America maintains economically and politically with the Philippines. When determining how to make America accountable for its imperialist history, we must consider the exploitation of overseas workers experienced in history.
The Take Back Our Education initiative is another integral aspect of Anakbayan USA’s work that focuses on America. Anakbayan USA continually campaigns against the tendency of education opportunities in America to become financially inaccessible, by pointing out to the increase in military spending by America over the last two decades and the recent reductions in social spending, including education.
Based on how the Philippines’ labor export policy has systematically sent its residents to work and study overseas since the 1970s, Anakbayan USA sees a direct relationship between the frustrations young Filipinos face in America and the Philippines and the role of education as a tool for advancing neo-imperialism. Filipinos in America tend to have little knowledge of their roots, since schools do not teach about the history of Filipinos in America, especially for Filipinos’ continued struggle against injustice in America.
There are various ways to tackle the issue. These include canceling all student debts and providing free access to education across all levels, implementing pro-people, ethnic studies and curriculums with cultural relevance, and ending campus repression by protecting the rights of workers and students in American communities and campuses. These aspects will go a considerable way in reshaping the relationship between America and the Philippines in terms of establishing a new historical empire understanding and withdrawal of American troops from the Philippines. If this campaign is realized, it will allow restitution of both Filipinos in America and Filipino-born Americans, by providing better education opportunities that are relevant to Filipinos while educating non-Filipino Americans of the historical relationship between the two nations.…
Creating awareness in America is a crucial part of Anakbayan’s plans to actualize these changes. Anakbayan emphasizes the role of education in creating awareness through educational workshops and discussions, including 8-hour discussions of the Philippine Society of Sison and its revolution, which has helped Anakbayan make many recruitments especially form college campuses. In addition, Anakbayan organizes tours to the Philippines to give people exposure and allow them to gain on-the-ground experience about the problems that Filipinos go through. Members of Anakbayan USA mobilize, protest, and highlight different ways that Filipinos and other US-imperialism victims experience exploitation and violence against US institutions. Through its stop the killings campaign, Anakbayan protests against extra-judicial killings of National Democratic activists by creating awareness of how the American-trained Philippines-backed military is involved in extra-judicial killings. One such instance is the killing of Anakbayan member Freddie Ligiw in Abra, Philippines, together with his father and brother. The victims’ bodies were found on 8th March, 2014, in a shallow grave with their mouths gagged and hands tied. Freddie disappeared on 2nd March, 2014, right before his scheduled meeting with human rights advocates.
Apart from educating the Filipino youth, Anakbayan USA has various other campaigns. The majority of these campaigns are focused on advocacy against bad immigration policies, workers’ and students’ rights, and solidarity with other marginalized communities like Native Americans, women, and other immigrants. Jonna Valdez, Akbayan’s premier secretary for the New York-New Jersey chapter in 2006, relates that one of the initial efforts of the NY-NJ chapter was the support of the Sentosa 27. The Sentosa 27 included a physical therapist and twenty-six nurses recruited from the Philippines through New York’s recruitment company Sentosa Care LLC. The twenty-seven immigrants were lured to New York with the promise of directly working for the nursing home facilities that had helped sponsor their work visas. However, when they stepped foot on US soil, the majority of nurses discovered that they were to work in nursing facilities different from the one they had been promised. Others discovered that their permit applications had neither been processed nor processed. Due to these factors, most of the 27 immigrants could not start working immediately after arriving in New York.
Consequently, they had to take up jobs as clerks earning meager wages. Even after the health workers received their work permits, they still continued to experience poor working and living conditions. According to most of the health workers, the staff quarters were in terrible condition, they use extremely old appliances and furniture, and the quarters were very crowded. Archiel Buagas, one of the 27 workers, recounts that she had to attend thirty to sixty people on average in one shift and continually multitask, handling the work of 2 to 3 people. When the health workers downed their tools and launched a legal assault against Sentosa, Anakbayan USA was one of the organizations at the forefront of advocating for the workers’ rights. Anakbayan USA helped hold the Sentosa Healthcare organization to account and helped the nurses with their licenses, most of which had been revoked.…
Originally, the Anakbayan movement started in the late 1990s in response to the failures of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) in the Philippines. The group was the official youth section of the National Democratic Movement in the Philippines and was formed to reshape national democratic ideology and develop new campaigns. Anakbayan was created by the League of Filipino students and other student organizations in the Philippines on 28th November 1998. The group began as a comprehensive national democratic mass organization for students and youths aged between 13 to 35 in the Philippines. Their orientation program stated that the group would address social injustices, was open to revolutionary ideas, and was ready to do whatever it takes for the betterment of the lives of the Filipino youth and people as a whole. Since its founding, Anakbayan has established itself as a relatively influential movement. For example, during the first three years after it was established, Anakbayan played a significant role in the removal of President Estrada from office in 2001, by pushing for his impeachment through the manilla uprising. Our focus in this article will be on Anakbayan USA, but before we discuss how the movement’s influence spread to the United States, we must first understand its core mission. Anakbayan’s primary mission is the education and incorporation of the youth in the Philippines and abroad into the National Democratic Movement and to advocate for injustices committed against the Filipino people.
Anakbayan’s formation in the Philippines is directly related to the group’s rise in the US in the 20th century. As the Gian Parel, the group’s Secretary-General stated in 2017, the 9/11 attacks gave rise to a new type of military neo-imperialism in America, as America began its global mission to combat terrorism, which also had an effect on the Philippines. The Philippines was literally the 2nd front of the war on terror, after Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. The era of increased globalization and America’s role in it influenced the creation of Anakbayan’s initial chapter in Seattle. The efforts and politicization that gave rise to its establishment were mainly influenced by the 1999 protests against the WTO. The World Trade Organization had introduced what seemed like unfair neoliberal trade policies between America and the Philippines. Filipino college students in Washington recognized that this was a movement that brought people together, and decided to form Anakbayan Seattle, which was officially established on 30th November, 2002. In subsequent years after 2002, US chapters of Anakbayan were established in New York-New Jersey, Chicago, Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Diego, Silicon Valley, and East Bay Area. The New York-New Jersey chapter of Anakbayan split to form individual New York and New Jersey chapters between 2011 to 2012. In 2012, the various US chapters of Anakbayan united to form Anakbayan USA.
Since Anakbayan USA is mostly made up of Filipino-born Americans, and Filipinos in the US, driving the significance of, and rooting their efforts in the Philippines is critical to the organization. It has helped many members of Anakbayan learn about how and why they and their folks migrated to America. The conditions that Filipinos in the US and abroad is key to the push-migration and conditions present in Filipino society. Anakbayan aims to solve the Filipino society’s fundamental challenges: to bring an end to the export of Filipino workers abroad and the vulnerabilities and exploitation they encounter migrating and working overseas, and to hold the US accountable for playing an imperialist role in the Philippines and other countries across the globe.…