New York, NY & Los Angeles, CA — In the final six-week stretch before the May 2007 National Elections in the Philippines, youth of Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland), based in New York and New Jersey, and Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB or Pro-People Youth), based in California, are launching a coordinated national campaign to gather support for progressive youth partylist KABATAAN, the only youth-sectoral partylist running for a seat this coming election.
Ugnayan and KmB are launching local chapters of Kabataan Partylist (KPL) whose purpose during the elections is to amplify the issues of youth in the Philippines and link to the concerns of the Filipino youth in the US; educate the larger community about the Philippine elections process and the Kabataan Partylist; and ensure victory for KPL by drawing support from Filipino youth in the US, their relatives, and friends back home.
The campaign will consist of extensive outreach, sweeping publicity, voter drives, and will culminate in coordinated cultural events in New York City and Los Angeles during the last weekend of April to the first weekend of May to show support for KABATAAN. They will be bringing together young Filipino musicians, artists, and allies to build momentum for the elections.
Last Thursday, officials from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced that 45.5 million Filipinos are registered to vote in May. Of those, 504,000 are overseas voters. This is a drastic increase in voters overall and 138,813 more overseas absentee voters than the 365,187 registered overseas voters in 2004. The figures also represent an opportunity for Filipino youth outside the Filipinos to have a direct impact on the critical issues of the homeland affecting Filipino youth and their families.
“We are connected to the Philippines through our family and friends,” said Joana Palomar, a 21-year old immigrant youth and KABATAAN-Ugnayan organizer. “Why did we leave in the first place? Partly because of problems like a corrupt government. But there are Filipinos outside the Philippines who know what’s happening in our homeland, and we can help to fix these problems by telling our families back home that there are solutions. One solution is to vote for KABATAAN.”
Filipino youth both in the US and in the Philippines face common challenges that the KABATAAN Plan of Action addresses. Products of a Philippine education system geared towards sending Filipino youth abroad, immigrant youth in the US face similar barriers to education, such as high tuition, backtracking, loss of credits and a severe shortage of courses on Philippine history, culture, politics and the community’s immigrant experience. The severe lack of jobs in the Philippines, causing Filipino youth to seek work abroad, is mirrored by the limited, mostly low-wage, service sector jobs available to Filipino youth in the US. Filipina domestic workers in the US who support their family and children back home also undergo dehumanizing conditions, such as the case of Fely Garcia. Ms. Garcia was found dead on March 14, 2007 in a Bronx, New York residence. She allegedly wrote in her suicide letter that she was harassed and abused by her employer while working as a caregiver at the Bronx. The friendly relationship between Presidents Bush and Macapagal-Arroyo further compounds the problem by conspiring to prioritize profits over the Filipino people, leading to extensive violations of basic human rights to life, education and livelihood.
KABATAAN remains at the forefront of youth and progress through the collective action of the youth and students’ campaigns against unabated tuition and miscellaneous fee increases, for higher state subsidy for education, adequate jobs for new graduates, the defense and recognition of human rights and civil liberties, and the protection and conservation of national patrimony. It continues to give primacy to the promotion of holistic development and genuine youth empowerment through volunteer work, leadership and skills training and other activities that cater to the needs and interests of young Filipinos.
The future of the Filipino people lies on the youth. KABATAAN-Ugnayan and KABATAAN-KmB devote their intellect, energy and courage to building a new society, advancing the politics of struggle and hope, fulfilling the historical role of the Filipino youth in nation building, and advancing genuine social change and the people.
For information on the KABATAAN Partylist chapters in the US, or to join the campaign, please call 212.564.6057 (New York City), 213.247.4909 (Los Angeles) or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vote for KABATAAN at Votester 2007 KABATAAN Partylist is currently holding the no. 1 place in Votester 2007, an online election feature website of Yehey.com.
Contact: Joana Palomar, KABATAAN – Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan, 212.564.6057; Johneric Concordia, KABATAAN – Kabataang maka-Bayan, 213.247.4909; email@example.com Elections