‘I went to a spa, had a massage with Marcos money’

By Cristina DC Pastor; TF photo

Feminist writer and former political prisoner Ninotchka Rosca was one of more than 7,500 claimants to the $10-million settlement paid to victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime.

TF: What did you do with your $1,000 check?
NR: I ate something really nice, I went to a spa, had a massage. I treated myself (laughs). I don’t even remember I was a claimant. It’s been six years.

TF: Where did this money come from, I mean which part of the Marcos wealth?
NR: I wrote about it in the Inquirer. I said there was an offer of a settlement on one of the cases over lands owned by Jose Yao Campos in Texas and Colorado bought with Marcos money. The amount involved is $70 million, but the offer of a settlement came down to $10 million. Robert Swift, one of the lawyers, said it may be hard to prove the case, but that Campos was willing to settle for $10 million.

TF: Many will say $1,000 can’t compensate for all the years of abuse, murder, torture, rape, etc. endured by the Marcos victims and their families?
NR: Of course not. But when you think of those who are still searching for their loved ones, or didn’t have the money to bury them…If this means anything at all, it’s a little measure of justice, but it’s justice.

TF: Why did Gabriela Network break away from the communist party of the Philippines?
NR: There are many reasons, but the last election in the Philippines was the last straw. We didn’t like Manny Villar, to put it bluntly, and some people decided to partner with him, in effect partnering with Marcos. It was just too much.

A painting by Filipina nanny Mona Lunot at the ‘Arrivals/Departures’ exhibit which Ninotchka curated.

TF: How is AF3IRM any different?
NR: There are three Fs in AF3IRM for the Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization (AF3IRM). It is now an organization of women engaged in transnational feminist, anti-imperialist activism. We are committed to militant movement-building from the United States. It’s untenable to be continually immersed in Philippine politics when you are in the United States. We did that — identity politics — for the last 20 years. We’re done with that.
In the last five years GabNet was starting to look around, starting to ask, ‘Where are we?’ We’ve had two years of intensive struggle, which led us to adopt a new line: that we need an affirmation of our identity as transnational women. We’re not just Filipina or American or hyphenated. We have more than one history, more than one language, more than one culture. Dependence on the ancestral homeland as to how we perceive the world, must be broken. In the Philippines, we’re still talking about the RH bill. Here (in the U.S.), we’re already talking growing sperm outside of the body.
I would call it evolving and reflecting on our own experience. We now make our own theory and analysis and our own history. Gerda Lerner’s “The Creation of Patriarchy,” “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness” are part of our reading material. Every member reads her. Nag-aaral ang mga bata.

TF: Is Mao still part of your reading material?
NR: We still read him as augmentation of any discussion on class.

TF: When did AF3IRM become official?
NR: Only last year. We have a fluctuating membership of anywhere from 100 to 500. It’s been interesting working with women of different ethnicities. We have Latina members, Asians, some Khmer and Koreans are training with us to learn organizing. We have chapters in New York, Boston, and California.

TF: Do you have male members?
NR: No. This is common even among the U.S. bourgeoisie, that men should be involved, should be part of the conversation. We don’t think so. Women have barely learned to talk to one another. There’s a scientific theory that in a group of nine women and one man interacting for two hours, the male will demand one hour even there’s just one of him. Look at the RH bill, there are people na nakikialam even if they don’t have the capability of getting pregnant.

TF: What is your exact title in AF3IRM?
NR: Member. I don’t believe in holding on title, power or prominence. No one person is the only source of wisdom.

TF: Did Joma (Sison) try to prevail on you to stay?
NR: I don’t think there was any effort exerted by the party to win any female back. Besides, there are far more important women than me.

TF: Isn’t the party supposed to be egalitarian?
NR: That’s the fucking irony.

TF: Was the Joma bio “At Home in the World” your last book?
NR: No. “Folding Water: The Search for a Quantum Theory of Turbulence” was published in 2009. It’s a physics book.

Ninotchka Rosca recently curated the multicultural exhibit of 12 women artists called Arrivals/Departures: Women’s Experience of Migration Under Globalization at Project Reach gallery in Chinatown. The group show runs till March 31.

One Comment

  1. Yolanda Lelis Punsalan wrote:

    She wrote a physics book! Wow. Gotta get hold of that one.

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