February 04, 2010
More than 70 students, faculty and staff filled the Suntrust Auditorium on Jan. 28 for a presentation by Thomas P. Johnson scholar Rollins alumna, Anne Lacsamana. Her presentation, entitled “State of Emergency: Globalization, Feminism, and the Philippine Women’s Movement,” discussed the role of women in Philippine society.
As an undergraduate, Lacsamana was an Area Studies major who focused on Women’s Studies and was very involved in implementing her academic knowledge into the Rollins campus and Winter Park community. Lacsamana was a founding member of Voices for Women, a student-led organization that seeks to promote gender equality and empower women. Lacsamana also helped to organize one of the first Take Back the Night marches at Rollins, which seek to raise awareness of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country.
“Her involvement in Women's Studies and the Rollins feminist group, Voices for Women, during her time here is a testament to the importance of bridging the gap between academics and activism,” said former co-president of Voices for Women, Rollins Evening Program student Frankie Mastrangelo “Recognizing the importance of feminism may initially occur in the Women's Studies classroom, but the fight for gender equality must reach beyond those walls. Anne's work is a primary example of putting theory into practice."
After graduating from Rollins, Lacsamana earned her master’s degree at University of Alabama and her doctorate’s degree at Bowling Green State University. She now serves as an Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at Hamilton College in New York.
Lacsamana opened her presentation by describing the Maguindanao Massacre, which occurred on November 23, 2009, and involved the politically-motivated assassination of 57 people associated with 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Esmael Mangudadatu. His wife, two sisters, lawyer, aides and many others were killed by approximately 100 armed men associated with his opponent’s father, Andal Amptuan, Sr.
Since then, it has been reported that many of the women in the group were also raped and shot in the genitals and breasts before being murdered. Also, a total of 34 journalists were killed, making this massacre the deadliest in news media history and securing the Philippines as the second deadliest location for journalists.
Lacsamana continued to explain how chronic hunger and poverty are two giant issues that the Filipino people face, with 23 million Filipinos living beneath the Asian poverty line. Extreme poverty forced women into the labor force over time.
Representing cheap, flexible labor for transnational corporations, Filipino women are hired as overseas foreign workers (OFWs), making up 80 percent of Filipino OFWs and thereby sustaining the Philippine economy.
“These women are leaving their own country to take care of other people’s children, and they haven’t seen their own children in five, ten or fifteen years,” said Lacsamana.
However, this economic aspect of globalization also has a drawback. More and more Filipino women are also migrating to other countries as prostitutes or mail order brides. Lacsamana commented that when she first started studying the liberation of the Philippine women, she would search “Filipino” and “Filipina” on Google. Sites of Filipino recipes, clothing and cultural traditions would pop up for the former, whereas sites for mail order brides would pop up for the latter.
While it seems as if the modernization of the Philippine state has resulted in great opportunities for Filipino women (e. g. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.) Modernization has also introduced globalization to the Philippines, which has lead to the exploitation of Filipino women as cheap labor and as victims of the sex trade industry.
"I feel it is important to recognize the plight of women in the Philippines because their struggle is indicative of a larger, systemic problem related to globalization,” said Mastrangelo. “ Anne Lacsamana highlighted how ‘global’ institutions like the IMF/World Bank force countries into a perpetual cycle of debt, securing disadvantaged nations tightly under their thumb. In order to repay such a debt, women are often forced into low-paying/dangerous jobs that exploit cheap ‘female’ labor (i.e. sweatshops, prostitution, etc.) This reflects why globalization is clearly a feminist issue. We need to forge transnational bonds of feminist solidarity in order to improve women's lives globally.”
-Brittany Fornof (Class of 2011)