Last year, Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA), a collective of anti-feudal artists and cultural workers, held “Babae Babawi,” a tribute gig in honor of women at the forefront of the land reform movement. As last year’s event page reads, “peasant women are bound to landlessness twice over: On top of withholding land from peasant women, the state also withholds state machinery and social services that could empower them to till the land that should be in their possession.” It was held two days before International Working Women’s Day on Mar. 8.
This year, “Babae Babawi” is back in the form of a protest gig. It will be held on Mar. 6 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Liwasang Diokno, Commission on Human Rights, Quezon City. Hosting the event is SAKA in partnership with Rural Women Advocates and AMIHAN Peasant Women.
“Stand with us as we celebrate the women who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for national democracy. For no victory over the patriarchy is complete without combating feudal landlords, imperialist plunderers and bureaucrats driven by corruption!” says SAKA.
Performing at the concert will be punk band Catpuke, Alyana Cabral, Brittleglasscasket and Barangay Pesante Combo, among others. Interspersed with musical acts are appearances from “women mass leaders and peasant advocates [who will] unpack the conditions faced by women in both the city and the countryside.”
“Over 70 percent of our population hails from the peasantry, and more than half of this sector is made up of women. In the Philippines, when we observe International Working Women’s Day, we must realize that the majority of women whose lives and work we celebrate are peasant women,” says SAKA on its Twitter account.
There will also be a booth by Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) where they will sell organic bananas. “[These are] fruits of the struggle of agricultural workers in their campaign for living wages and land occupation towards food security. Many of such land occupation efforts coordinated with UMA—known nationwide as ‘bungkalan’—are led by women, and each effort is a living testament to the strength of collective action,” according to SAKA’s Facebook page.
“For this year’s celebration of International Working Women’s Day, SAKA links arms with the women whose labor and daily struggles allow us to secure our health—the peasant women. Amid the longest running pandemic-related lockdown in the world, increasing production costs, decreasing farmgate prices and worsening repression, our women farmers continue to toil and work the land in order to secure our country’s food supply, nutrition and health. Their struggles remind us that health is not simply the absence of illness. It is a state of complete physical, mental, emotional well-being that is only possible when we are free to practice our political right to assemble and organize,” says SAKA co-convener Donna Miranda.
Miranda notes that the event will also adhere to social distancing guidelines. “By practicing physical distancing and infection prevention protocols during gatherings such as Babae Babawi, we take back our freedom to express social solidarity and unite our voices against the economic and political injustice, exploitation, disenfranchisement and discrimination that working women struggle against,” she stresses.
“Two days before the historic commemoration of International Working Women’s Day, we, women of different backgrounds, generation and influences stand in solidarity with the working women whose labor and aspirations inspire us to participate in forging a secure, healthy and meaningful future,” adds Miranda.
Featured photo screengrabbed from UMANI Productions