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One billion women to rise on Feb. 14–Filipinos at the forefront, led by Monique Wilson

‘I think the women here [in the Philippines] are unbelievably strong,’ said Eve Ensler, celebrated playwright of ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ ‘Not in an aggressive way; just in a solid, spiritual, intellectual way. They’re just indomitable’


Awash in purple light and its floor covered in rose petals, the stage of Music Museum in Greenhills was filled with women—kids, teens, mothers, artists, celebrities, even seniors who survived the war—all enthusiastically dancing to an upbeat tune.

At the very front were two of the group’s most passionate dancers: Renowned actress Monique Wilson and Tony award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Imagine that scene, but on a much larger scale: One billion women out on the streets in different parts of the world, all dancing to the same beat. The dance, however, isn’t just for show; it’s a protest, a movement, a collective cry—for people to put a stop to rape and all other forms of abuse against women.

The movement is called One Billion Rising, the brainchild of Ensler, an activist who has made it her life’s mission to fight violence against women. As part of her One Billion Rising World Tour, Ensler visited the country last Dec. 16-22 to help spread word about the campaign. Her other stops are Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Los Angeles, India, Egypt, Paris, Belgium, London and the Congo.

Main event

One Billion Rising’s main event, Strike, Dance, Rise!, will take place on Feb. 14, 2013, in more than 170 countries. It coincides with the 15th anniversary of V-Day, Ensler’s earlier worldwide campaign against women abuse.

“It’s a global call-to-action day. It’s a collective effort of individuals and groups to do a collective strike and demand an end to violence against women and girls,” said Wilson at a recent press conference.

Added Ensler: “[Violence against women] is so entrenched; it has become so acceptable everywhere that we just assume women will be raped, beaten; will live in squalor, won’t have healthcare… So, how do we make the seemingly ordinary become unacceptable? [The idea of] one billion women dancing was so audacious that people just said, ‘let’s do it.’”

While violence against women does not just concern physical abuse, rape is one of the central issues of the campaign. Wilson said that they chose dance and not the usual rally as the form of protest because, “when a woman is raped, her body becomes her prison. Dance can help her break free from that pain, to reclaim her body.”

“Also, everyone can dance—young, old, from all walks of life. It’s an energy that can really shake and move things,” she added.

Rape mentality

More than the physical act of rape, it’s the rape mentality that One Billion Rising seeks to end. Ensler best talks about it in her piece, “Over It,” which was performed at the press conference by V-Day actresses Juno Henares, Mae Paner, Lynn Sherman, Frances Makil-Ignacio, Madeleine Nicolas, Amparo Sietereales, Jenny Jamora, Ces Drilon, Angela Padilla, Pinky Amador.

An excerpt: “I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault or they did something to make it happen.

“I am over violence against women not being No. 1 international priority, when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime—the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.

“No women, no future, duh.”


Four stories

The One Billion Rising-Philippines video was also launched. It tells the story of four women: Lola Narcisa of Lila Filipina, an organization of comfort women seeking justice for the rape and abuse they experienced from Japanese soldiers during the war; Angie Ipong, a human rights activist who was arrested under false accusations, tortured and abused by men who claimed to be members of the Philippine National Police; Eden Abarientos, an OFW who jumped off the second-floor apartment window of her employer in Taiwan who attempted to rape and murder her; and “Elaine,” a 13-year-old girl raped and impregnated by her uncle who is a member of Cafgu (Citizens’ Armed Force Geographical Unit), a paramilitary unit under the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Also in the video are shots of women all over the country dancing to the campaign’s theme song, “Isang Bilyong Babaeng Babangon,” by Lisa del Valle, Merlee Jayme, Marcus Davis and Top Suzara. Choreography is by Nancy Crewe.

Ensler said she was inspired by the women in Congo when she came up with One Billion Rising. “I spent a lot of time in Congo, where the women are the most amazing dancers. And they’ve been through the worst pain. But when they dance, it’s like they transform their pain,” she said.

“I thought, what if we took all the one billion women who survived all the violence and just danced on the same day? Now, it’s happening!”

Overwhelming feedback

Here in the Philippines, Wilson is leading the movement, together with other organizers New Voice Company, Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party. They have been going around the country teaching the theme song and dance steps to women who plan to participate.

“The feedback [on One Billion Rising] has been overwhelming,” said Wilson. “It’s really all over the country now—Negros, Dumaguete, Bicol, Baguio, Cordillera, Davao, Iloilo, Cebu.”

“I think the women here [in the Philippines] are unbelievably strong,” said Ensler. “Not in an aggressive way; just in a solid, spiritual, intellectual way. They’re just indomitable.”

Everyone is invited to join and dance; not just women. You don’t have to be an exceptional dancer, either, since the steps are easy enough to follow even if it’s your first time to dance them. In Metro Manila, the main venue will be Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City, which will be closed to traffic for a whole-day street party.

But what happens after we dance? “I think it’s for everyone to figure out what their next step will be,” said Ensler. “This is about you. There’s no authority, nobody is giving directions. One Billion Rising is about you.”

“The day after Feb. 14, I’m going to be doing what I always do—fighting for women to always be safe and free.”

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Tags: Eve Ensler , Monique Wilson , One Billion Rising

  • http://twitter.com/Sizzle75Ian ian martinez

    Monique Wilson is a lesbian with little interest in male/female harmony, she will certainly know that violence between lesbian partners is higher than between male/female partners. All such campaigns by feminists to sitir up anti male hate use bogus statistics, “half women are raped, beaten up” etc, WHAT NONSENSE! Rape is a despiccable, heinous crime, Of your female friends, have HALF been raped or abused? Ask them? These feminist statistics are OBVIOUSLY UNTRUE. What about the HIDDEN men who are are abused by females, what about the men who are raped by gays and in prison, feminists care NOTHING about men,,but men are naturally protective of women and kids.

    The feminists also forget to mention the elephant in the room :- female violence, in reality this is 50/50, i know a few violent women, but no violent men. Females use stealth, weapons and violence by proxy, the MAJORITY of one sided parner violence is by women ( my EX WIFE too), also nearly all psychological violence is done by women.
    This campaign all sounds noble, like “stop war”,, of course, but what the message is saying, is ” stop violence against women, but NOT against men”. Males are by FAR FAR FAR, the biggest victims of violence, of course. feminists have always used victimhood to further their aims, in the west feminism has become a violent hate movement especially towards women who oppose it’s views, e.g Erin Pizzey founder of battered wives homes, who spoke against feminism, who then found her pet dog was killed by feminists.
    As usual, feminists want to create an impression of female victimhood “one billion women who survived all the violence” and raise government cash ( paid for with mostly male taxes, of course) to make a few elite women very rich.
    This is a campaign that gives the impression ALL men are violent and ALL women are victims, disgraceful hate peddling and disharmony, just to raise funds.for the violent hate movement that feminism has become in real life. WHO IS RECEIVING THE FUNDS FROM THIS CAMPAIGN, EXACTLY?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004097055586 Chava Villabona

      not because they are not talking about female violence then they don’t care about men’s suffering. for pete’s sake they are a WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION, what set of issues do you expect for them to tackle? if you are so concerned about female violence, then you can go create your own group! it’s very simple really.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Martin-Smith/100002678496359 Martin Smith

        Because men are not brought up like that. If there was a men’s organisation, it would never try to demonise women in a hypocritical harsh way, which is what this is doing to men, for pete’s sake, making ALL men sound like perpetrators.
        Yesterday a woman pushed a man off the station deliberately  into the path of a train near where i live, and he died. the indian rape victim died today too,but  they are both terrible crimes , there should be no stereotyping or demonising by any group, with the aim of RAISING MONEY for extremists like the feminist  organisers of this day.
        Stop feminist false victimhood for raising cash to peddle hate against men and boys.

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