Historical Timeline & Herstory:
The National Democratic Movement of the Philippines
The National Democratic Movement of the Philippines
Pre-Colonial Philippine Society
"We see her standing proud and free, an esteemed member of tribal pre-colonial Philippines, holding up half the sky of legend and worship as she participated fully on all aspects of community life on earth (Babaylan Reader)."
- Babaylans were community healers, spiritual guides and leaders within pre-colonial Philippine society. They were primarily women or genderqueer cis men. Babaylans were seen as rulers in their own right and were able to keep their maiden name as patrilineal and matrilineal ancestry were deemed equally important.
spanish colonization 1565-1898
- Spanish colonization brought the sword and the cross, dislocating the Filipino people from their indigenous spirituality and subjugating them through armed force. The tactic of the colonizers was to divide and conquer the Filipino people and to further the feudal system of land ownership, creating a reserve labor force for the oppressive interests of colonialism.
- This also brought the rise of feudal patriarchy, where a woman's worth was placed solely in her virginity and Christian ideas of purity. Instead of being active members of society, able to make decisions by and for themselves, women were seen as the property of men and their work was relegated to reproductive labor inside the home.
GABRIELA SILANG 1731-1763
- Gabriela Silang is the first pinay (filipina) to lead an armed revolt against Spanish colonizers. Gabriela was influential in the tactical and strategic planning of Ilocano armed uprisings and was a top advisor to her husband and local leader, Diego Silang. After he died in battle, she took command of the rebel forces. On September 10th, 1763 she led 2,000 armed fighters into battle against 6,000 Spanish forces in Vigan. They were defeated and she was captured and publicly hanged on September 20th.
- GABRIELA Portland is named after Gabriela Silang and she is seen as our revolutionary mother. We continue to further her legacy today, fighting for the genuine liberation of the Filipino people from the three root problems of US imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism.
Tandang Sora 1812-1919
- Melchora Aquino de Ramos, or Tandang Sora (Elder Sora), is known as the Grand Woman of the Revolution. Owner of a small shop, she opened her doors to wounded and sick revolutionaries offering food, medical services, prayer and encouragement. Secret meetings were also held in her shop. The Spanish eventually learned of her activities and ties to the revolution and interrogated her, but she refused to disclose any information. She was arrested and sent to Guam, Marianas Islands until American forces allowed her to return to the Philippines. She died at age 107 and her remains were buried in her backyard, which is now known as Himlayan Pilipino Memorial Park in Quezon.
Teresa magbanua 1863-1947
- A former schoolteacher, she retired when she married her wealthy landlord husband, Alejandro Balderas. In 1896, when the revolutionary struggle took hold she became one of a handful of women to join Katipunan, despite her husband's disapproval. Along with her two brothers, she took up arms against the Spanish and fought in many successful battles. She is credited as being the only woman from the Visayas to lead troops into battle. When the Americans took over, she continued armed struggle against the colonialist invaders. During WWII, she provided supplies to resistance fighters. She died a widow at age 78 in Mindanao.
revolution of 1896
- An armed struggle of the Filipino people to overthrow Spanish colonial and feudal rule led by Andres Bonifacio and Katipunan members. Katipunan was comprised of majority peasants who believed that revolution was the only true path to liberation. Calling for the separation of church and state, the first battle was the Cry of Pugad Lawin on August 23, 1896.
treaty of paris 1898
- A document that allowed the US to purchase the Philippines along with Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Guam from the Spanish for 20 million dollars. While it was framed in the Philippines as the United States coming to help liberate Filipinos from Spanish rule, in reality it was a transition from one colonial power to another.
US Imperial occupation 1898-1946
- During this time, the US further removed the Filipino people from their indigenous knowledge, creating boarding schools for their education to "civil" society. The racist narrative of manifest destiny can be seen in the propaganda of the time period, where the US is depicted as saving the Filipino people from their savagery. This clearly was in the interest of serving white supremacy and the economic system of imperialism in order to grow and maintain wealth.
- Imperialism further economically disempowered the Filipino people from self-sufficient economies toward the exploitative capitalist system. The US was eager to gain wealth through the abundance of natural resources, creating unequal trade agreements that made the Philippines export oriented and import dependent.
- In 1935, the Philippines was declared an autonomous commonwealth by its colonizers, but the US maintained control of the former colony through puppet governments modeled directly after the US.
- On July 4th, 1946 the Philippines was granted full independence, but US imperialism still had deep roots in the economy and government.
Philippine-american war 1898-1902
- The armed revolution for liberation continued, led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The fight was bloody, with an estimated 1.5 million Filipinos killed in the war. Many civilians died of famine and disease. Violence was heightened as a US military tactic was to burn entire villages to the ground. It was during this time that the .45 caliber bullet was introduced on the Filipino people along with the torture tactic of waterboarding.
- On July 4th, 1902 the war was officially declared over by US President Theodore Roosevelt, but the fighting continued in the provinces until 1916.
- During this time, the women of Samar led a resistance movement by cleverly dancing and flirting with American soldiers. Once they were drunk, the women would lead the men into their rooms where they would kill the soldiers with the help of male counterparts.
Japanese occupation 1942-1945
- The US fled the Philippines, more concerned with the events happening in Europe. This made the archipelago vulnerable to Japanese occupation. It was during this time that the idea of a "comfort woman" was created for foreign military men.
- On March 29, 1942, HUKBALAHAP formed as a people's armed response to Japanese invasion in central and southern Luzon.
- Joey Guerrero was a pinay (filipina) who used her leprosy to slip behind enemy lines to bring food and information to resistance fighters.
ferdinand marcos dictatorship and state repression 1965-1986
- In 1971, Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which allowed the indefinite detention of those arrested without granting them the right to a trial before a judge and jury.
- In 1972, Marcos declared martial law in order to quell the people's uprising. This forced community organizers to go underground as they continued to fight for liberation from US imperialism and the puppet dictatorship of Marcos.
MAKIBAKA AND LORENA BARROS 1970-1976
- Maria Lorena Barros was a student organizer at the University of the Philippines, where she studied anthropology. It was here that she began to understand the three root problems of Philippine society, US imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. She protested for support of striking workers and against rising tuition costs and the US led Vietnam War.
- In 1970, MAKIBAKA (Free Movement of New Women) formed with Barros as founding chairperson. She encouraged the active participation of women in the nationalist struggle and developed the analysis of the double exploitation of women due to national and gender oppression.
- After joining the armed resistance movement, in 1973 Barros was caught, imprisoned, and tortured for information. While in the hands of the reactionary state, she learned that her husband had been captured and killed after he surrendered to the Marcos armed forces. Her wish was to take his place on the frontlines of battle.
- On March 24, 1976, Barros was wounded in battle. On her order, her counterparts fled while she provided cover. When the enemy soldiers found her, she told them they were lucky that her gun had jammed.
- Barros died while fighting in 1976, but her legacy of resistance lives on today as women continue to organize on the frontlines of the struggle for liberation.
"The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant. The new Filipina one who can spend whole days and nights with striking workers, learning from them the social realities which her bourgeois education has kept from her. She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history. No longer is she a woman for marriage, but more and more a woman for action (Lorena Barros)."
Labor export policy 1974
- Marcos formally introduces the Labor Export Policy (LEP), where the government encourages people to leave the country in search of economic work. This is due to the worsening economic crisis and lack of national industrialization.
- First proposed as a temporary solution, this policy became law as remittances grew to be 10% of the GDP. In 2015 remittances were worth $20 billion USD.
- Today, an average of 6,000 Filipinos migrate from the country every day, 70% of whom are women mainly going into domestic work. The LEP created the Philippine diaspora, where 10% of the population resides in countries outside of the homeland.
gabriela philippines 1984
- GABRIELA officially launches in March as the women's organization for the National Democratic movement. Furthering the analysis of Lorena Barros, GABRIELA organizes around the triple oppression of women in Philippine society, meaning national, class and gender oppression.
- Many of the campaigns focus on interpersonal and economic violence against women. Services provided range from reproductive health care to advocacy services for survivors of interpersonal violence.
- GABRIELA is an acronym that stands for General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action.
People's revolution 1986
- The Filipino masses united to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship in a student led uprising commonly referred to as the First Quarter Storm. While they were victorious in overthrowing Marcos, the three root problems of semi-colonial and semi-feudal society prevailed and true liberation was not achieved.
Gabriela Network 1989
- 50 women (majority pinay) convene in Chicago to create an overseas chapter of GABRIELA in the United States. GABNet is formed as a multi-racial organization that supports GABRIELA Philippines.
- GABNet creates 10 chapters including Minnesota, Seattle, New Jersey/New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Detroit. Many of the chapters become inactive over time.
GABRIELA WOMEN'S PARTYLIST 2000
- GABRIELA Women's Party launched in October 2000, allowing women to have a voice in the electoral arena.
- Victories include the passing of pro-women legislation, such as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act.
- Since 2007, GABRIELA has garnered enough votes to rank 4th out of 66 partylists, meaning that there are two representatives of the women's sector in Philippine Congress.
GABNET SEATTLE 2001
- GABNet was revived by three pinays (filipinas) in Seattle.
- Started as a Purple Rose Committee, the group held educational discussions, film screenings, and forums around human trafficking until growing into a full-fledged chapter.
- This chapter later became Pinay sa Seattle in 2006 and GABRIELA Seattle in 2009.
babae san francisco 2004
- BABAE SF formed as another pinay (filipina) organization. This chapter later became GABRIELA SF in 2009.
split from gabnet 2005-2007
- In 2005, issues arose after a lack of unity on whether to join the formation of the BAYAN National Alliance as a National Democratic organization.
- Due to a difference in theoretical understanding and organizational approach, GABNet Seattle decides to separate from GABRIELA Network. This was exacerbated when the chapterhood was revoked in May 2006.
- In February 2007, BABAE, Pinay, and FIRE all sent formal letters to GABRIELA Philippines asking to be recognized as international chapters.
- In November 2007, a women's National Democratic congress was held in Seattle to establish the National Women's Alliance of National Democratic Women's Organizations.
Fwiny and Fire new york 2006-2007
- In October 2006, Filipina Women's Inititiative of NY (FWINY) organizing committee was established.
- In April 2007, Filipino Rights and Empowerment (FIRE) formed as another pinay (filipina) organization.
- These later become GABRIELA NY in 2009.
gabriela international 2009
- Overseas chapters of GABRIELA are formally recognized at the General Assembly.
sigaw la 2009
- Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken! (SiGAw!) forms as a member organization of GABRIELA USA.
- This leads to the formation of GABRIELA LA.
gabriela uae 2011
- In November, GABRIELA UAE launches. Over 450,000 Filipinos have migrated to the United Arab Emirates in search of economic work.
gabriela dc 2013
- GABRIELA members came into contact with trafficked teachers in 2012. Through community research, they learned there were more trafficked teachers from the same recruiter.
- They decide to hold presentations discussing human trafficking in the homes of the women they met. Many of them did not know that they had been trafficked and could access social services such as legal relief.
- In May, a prep committee was formed and the chapter officially launched in October. This is the only chapter with membership comprised solely of trafficked teachers and serves as a testament to the power of survival and community organizing as the women have moved from being exploited to being empowered.
gabriela portland 2016
- Formerly the womxn's desk at Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP), GABRIELA Portland officially launched on March 8th, International Working Women's Day.
- As the 6th chapter of GABRIELA USA, we continue to organize and lead the militant women's movement for National Democracy here in the United States, advocating for the rights of Filipinos throughout the diaspora and the dismantling of the three root problems of the Philippines, meaning US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
* All artwork by GABRIELA Portland member MARYANNA HOLLOMON.