the “gun control” debate, lets stop talking at each other, listen and catch up to reality

**ive been reflecting alot on the recenet school schooting and rise in gun control debate again as both sides come across my facebook news feed. So after a couple days, heres my reflections, as both sides continue to talk and our lawmakers try to contiune to pass blame around like a hot potato**

I grew up in a small town in the Southern United States where almost every house owned a gun in a gun safe with lock and key, the start of hunting season was an unofficial holiday, and we learned proper care & shooting of guns in freshmen high school PE class. So yes, I have shot a gun during school hours and my shoulder still hurts from thinking about it. Our high school hunters safety team was state champs for a number of years and one of the prides of our school.

I never felt scared at school but absolutely none of this had to deal with automatic weapons. We are in a different world now, so while I understand where the folks who talk about gun ownership as a right are coming from. The reality is automatic weapons are much more easily accessible to the average person but our laws are still covering the hunting rifles. And that is truly scary. So that is where we reach the problem…

We Need Stronger Gun protection laws that match with our reality.

And we need to fund access to mental health and stronger screenings for folks. We need to stop cutting funding to Medicaid, Medicare, and social services while funding war and production of weapons. I mean how are we surprised that more folks are getting their hands on weapons while not getting the medical help they need. Our money speaks to what we prioritise as a nation.

For those who safely own guns woth permits etc, its not about taking away your right. The laws are in place to allow you to contiune to own but this is about supporting our citzens with the basic help they need to be safe and meaningfully contribute to society. So calm down, and listen instead of jumping to assumptions please.

Further more, we need to start listening to and believing our young people. Its not just about all the medal dectors you can install, armed police on school grounds, and keeping us locked in classrooms to answer our problems. We know whats going on with our friends, young people have a good sense of where other yoing people are at and if we should worry (its part of our education to understand these things whether intentional or not) and you say report it but then brush it off for jumping to conclusions or too crazy. How do you expect us to trust you to say something again?

Or you claim, you couldn’t trace the comment in todays Big Brother world, its not on the dark web (that would be understandable), there are how to videos you can google to show you how to do just that. Yet, you expect us to trust you and blame young people for not sayinh something?

We need a system overall, stop assuming we’re directly attacking each others basic rights and start listening carefully to understand and take care of our whole community and protecting all our basic rights. We need to trust and listen to our young people, fund basic social services and counselors for schools, and we need gun laws that are caught up to the guns of today.

I welcome conversation and healthy debate that starts with listening in a place of community care.


#RiseinSolidarity #OneBillionRisingRevolution2018 #OBR

I rise for migrante children and the reality that one day they may live back in their home lands.

For the past years since 2013, I have participated in the One Billion Rising Movement as the movement as grown from just One Billion Rising to One Billion Rising Revolution Solidarity this year. Its been a movement that struck a place in my heart, a call that combined the dancing that helped me understand true Solidarity with the call to end violence against women.

Every year since 2013, while I haven’t always been able to attend risings on Feb 14 (the international call for OBR) I’ve always made time to Skype dance and rise with the first folks from who I learned about OBR that is my Hong Kong family! So as I sip coffee to keep my energy up and begin to figure out where the live stream is coming from tonight,

In 2018, I rise as part of One Billion Rising:

I rise for the migrant domestic workers of Hong Kong
The women that face violence every day
Not just in the homes where they work, forced to live, and try to survive
But from their own governments Forcing them out refusing to address poverty
Instead protecting the interest of the foreign businesses

I rise for the migrant domestic workers of Hong Kong
Who have come together across boundaries not just to survive
Teaching  their rights in HK, and rising together knowing together they are stronger
All while ceaselessly fighting for their rights back in their Homelands
For while they were forced to migrate, that doesn’t take away their right to fight

I rise for the migrant domestic workers of Hong Kong
The women (and men) I call family, who patiently helped me find my own voice
Who modeled solidarity in action until I began to internalize it and continue to do so
And still years later finding time to check in even when were oceans away
Welcoming me back every time I can visit, my kasamas, my family

I rise for the Lumad Children of Mindanao
Whose dreams are that of every child, an safe place to live and go to school
But whose reality is militarization, bullets in their classrooms,
a President who threatens to to bomb their schools and take their land
Yet who resist each and every day by continuing their education

I rise for the Lumad Children of Mindanao
Whose childhood was stolen by Philippine military bullets and guns
Refusing to give up their dreams of education, pressing on
Welcoming us each summer, into their lives, their schools to learn alongside them
The future of justice we are fighting for is real and together we will win

I rise for the Lumad Children and communities of Mindanao
Who want to live in peace, farming on their ancestral land
Whose only “crimes” of protecting that land and educating their children so often come with death sentences
But who refuse to be quieted or forced into silence through fear
Instead their request tell our stories back in the US so people there know where our tax dollars go

I rise for the thousands of farmers from Indonesia to Philippines
Whose land was stolen by foreign companies like Dole, or Nestle
For plantations of sugar cane, or bananas
Forces to work for practically nothing, facing violence if they speak up
But refusing to be quiet, they defend their rights to farm their land

I rise for the thousands of lives taken in the Philippines
14,000+ in the name of Philippine President Duerte’s so called “War on Drugs”
Modeled after ours here, so we know its a war on the poor
126+ in the name of “counter insurgency” ironically called Oplan Kayapaan or “Operation Peace”
Really an all out war against human rights activist, farmers and those not afraid to stand for justice

I rise for the thousands of migrant workers around the World
Forced to leave their countries due to poverty to support their family
All but rejected by the countries that hire them
Who stand up and speak out every day, growing our food, cleaning our homes
Because our lives wouldn’t happen without them

I rise for the migrant workers here in Southern California
Survivors of trafficking, explotation, and wage theft
Who found their strength and voices when they came together
Reunited with their families after years apart
Welcoming us into their families, sharing experiences together

I rise because Resistance is our right and Solidarity is my duty
My Passport says United States of America meaning I have a choice
I can sit back and let my tax dollars go to fund Human Rights Abuses
Or i can commit myself to educating my community to resist these abuses
Each and every year, because these communities ask me for my solidarity, I chose to Rise!

So I rise, because One Billion Women, youth, and children should never have to face violence in the home, nor from their governments a majority of which is funded by the US government. So tonight and in the weeks to come I will continue to strike, dance, and rise for the One Billion Rising Revolution in Solidarity! If you wish to know more about anything here, please let me know.

Across the Pacific, I rise!


It may be blurry but tonight, I rise in Solidarity! Screen shot from HK

First round, personal reflections its been six years

Facebook has recently reminded me that it has been six (almost seven) years since I first began to learn about the National Democratic movement in the Philippines and almost five years since I joined the movement here in SoCal.

Tonight I had some unpredicted time to reflect on the journey of my life since finding the movement. As we held a rallying calling on the Philippine government to Free peace activist Rafael Baylosis and all Political prisoners. During the rally after each speaker spoke, they were ‘arrested’ & ‘silenced’ for the remainder of the rally. Being early in the program, i knew meant it was going to be an interesting evening.

On January 31st, peace activist Rafael Baylosis was arrested and slapped with trumped up charges which is in direct violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), of which the Philippine government is a signatory and therefore bound to by way of the peace talks. All of this is part of Duterte’s crackdown on human rights workers, activists, and peace consultants, which has now amounted to over 486 political prisoners in the Philippines.



In those first moments, I knew what was coming but there was still a feeling to challenge  and as reality set in, I closed by eyes and took breath. Silenced like after speaking in Solidarity, like Philippine President Duerte and his government are trying to do, to many legal human rights activist in the Philippines. It was all part of our action out front of the Philippine consulate calling the government to free recently arrested Peace Consultant Rafael Baylosis and all political prisoners and stop the crackdown against activist.

I was the first speaker to be “silenced” during the evening and it gave me a different take on the rest of the program. Finding myself reflecting on the 8 political prisoners i had met last summer, how they had all been illegally arrested and charged with “common crimes” when there only crime was caring for the poor and the oppressed and not being quiet about it. How they were now stuck behind bars waiting for justice, preparing for the day it might not come, but ever more committed to the struggle for a just and lasting peace for their country. There request not for themselves but to help the evacuees from Marawi, Mindanao on an island hundreds of miles away.

My mind drifted back and forth between focusing on the speeches, and trying to process the emotions running through my body. Thinking back to the students from the Lumad (Indigenous) school who were going against all odds doing the one thing they could take control over, that is getting their education even as military bullets flew through their classrooms. To the migrant women who I organized with in Hong Kong who taught me much about the movement, wanting to go home but while this was the only way to support their family, they weren’t going to be quiet, taking to the streets to educate and empower their fellow workers. Where somewhere along the streets, I found my own voice and began to understand what true solidarity meant. 27540647_1640959925969917_5342100331362287124_n.jpg

Finding the longer the program went the heavier the paper chains felt, ready to break them but thinking back to those human rights workers, priest, church workers, youth and students, farmers who sacrifice so much for the struggle for a just and lasting peace, some to the point they are killed for it. Not by unesseccary risk but instead because they were committed to the protection of human rights and caring for the poor and protecting their land. Nothing that was actually a crime instead killed for doing what Jesus calls us to do: Care for the least, the last, and the forgotten. The weight of the reality that so many face was heavy, but not a burden I carry alone instead one our community carries ready to move forward more united.

And as I stood there, unable to chant, looking around at the community, kasamas who I hold dear the emotions began to bubble inside first falling as tears at the loss of life then beginning to light a deeper internal flame inside me. The flame that burns deep in my soul, the flame in Solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggles, where I have found my place an integral part of the struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.


As the program finished we broke the changes raising our fist for justice. It took a minute to find my voice again. But finally the emotions could come out, chanting alongside everyone felt good but also agitating. The kasama was beside me turned as the program finished “It was hard to chant all of a sudden” she shared. I knew what she meant. It was like our voice in the “cool” SoCal winter had forgotten how to work.

Thinking back to the 8 political prisoners I met, some having been detained for over 10 years waiting for justice. The government has tried to keep them voiceless for so long but still they find ways to serve the people, the communities they know.

As the evening finished, it was with a further internal commitment to grow the Solidarity movement here in SoCal and across the USA for human rights in the Philippines for while Resistance is our Right, Solidarity is our Duty (when it is our US Tax Dollars funding the Philippine government committing these human rights violations.

More reflections to come…


As reality sets in

Life seems to be getting crazier with each day, especially in the regular updates of Human Rights violations. The past few weeks has been nothing short of a new level of normal, then this weekend we had out of town kasamas come visit and share their experiences and gifts of cultural work.  And somehow in the pause and reminders to breathe, i started to let my heart process the new reality….this is what came of that.

Another Ding, another facebook notification
Do I want to check it?
Peasant Leader killed
Indigenous leader arrested without warrant
Human Rights Advocate harassed

With each Ding, the reality setting in
Friends lives are at risk, they know it but they Organize on
In the churches, streets, and schools from dusk to dawn
Where fear lurks around every corner, with a gun, with a warrant, with no warning
Courage grows larger, people uniting in the struggle

Caught somewhere between the google doc and meeting clock
Trying to stay grounded and connected
Yet, at times struggling back to the why
Why I get up and organize each day?
Why so many live an ocean away?

Tick Tock, ring, ding, the clock never stops
group after group messages continue in
Trying to balance, to get my footing in the work ahead
Life moving, at a new fast pace…When I stumble and trip
Finding my community, kasamas there to catch me as I fall

Breathe, the pace slowed for a moment
Remember why we’re here, its ok to just be quiet
Your not in this alone, we’ll get through this together
Pulling close even from across the seas
With a tight hug in real life and in my dreams

In the pause, hearing the music of our collective life
Karaoke songs that play out in slightly more ND ways
Tears fall with sounds of unexpected tracks
And in the voices of kasamas singing of their experiences
Singing the peoples struggles, because yes we hear the people the sing

So with each facebook Ding, theres a note or two to hear
Reminded we’re in this for the long run
And that makes relationships even more vital
For my soul won’t rest in my calling to live not just in Solidarity
But where I see myself, my life connected in the struggle hand in hand

Until Stop the Killings! Isn’t a call
But instead the peoples rights and human rights are respected by all
We struggle on for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and around the world

Into 2018, claiming courage

Oh 2017, I must admit this past year is one crazy blur. It certainly has been something unexpected and not in the good use of the word but still full of fun memories, new friends, growing in our organizing, and more discernment and clarity in my calling.

Being up early on NYE to take a friend to the train station, gave me the unique opportunity to usher in the New Year in real time in the time zone of my heart (Hong Kong & the Philippines). Spent sometime later in the day finally beginning to reflect on 2017. Reflections that will continue in these first days of 2018, but as these first hours play out and i try to get some rest with the caffeine I drank to make it to midnight still in my system. Here’s some initial reflections

Oh 2017, the year has been full of struggles and growth, new experiences and finding my footing in my experience. Building upon the last half of 2016, the year started as I continued to internalize my calling as a human rights and peace advocate for the Philippines. Taking the first steps toward a long-term reality I’ll share at some point in the future. While, learning and building more with kasamas and families here in Southern California. A trip to the Philippines as a team of two (that grew to five) that was as unpredictable as expected and news that by the end was coming daily of human rights violations and extra judicial killings from the ground in the Philippines. While it at times seemed to much, there was time to check-in, respond, and continuing to grow our work here in Southern California.

In the ups and downs, I have been blessed with an international community of kasamas and friends to hold me grounded in why I continue in the ministry I am called. Not just someone to catch me when I trip and shoulder to cry on but a hand to hold and wipe the tears away, before beginning to plan out how to improve our work collectively. Laughers with new friends and organizing together new and different kasamas continuing to grow our movement across the Pacific.

The journey of a team of two to the Philippines full of first experiences that build the launching board to seeing our work for just and lasting peace growing into 2017 and into 2018. The team of two which is already growing to be larger this summer. Building solidarity for just and lasting peace in the Philippines and educating the community here in SoCal. Living life in to UMC Resolution 6118 (2016 General Conference)

Building with children and reminded of how they are the future and reasons we organize. Going beyond tears to laughs and building relationships whether in the Lumad school in Mindanao or the families I organize with. Even becoming a Ninang (Godmother) for the first time. Children bring so much beauty and reminders of how the simple things can bring so much joy.

So with 2018 now upon us, in years past I’ve chosen words to be the focus of the new year. The work of “YES!” has shown me so much and gotten me so far. Now with still major changes and moves ahead. With much reflection to go, I’m entering 2018 with a similar focus “BE BOLD!” Bold in our work, sharing about the reasons we organize, not letting fear lead the way but instead building together. As Bishop Marigza shared during the ICHRP-US Launch “Where ever fear lurks, courage roams bigger” May 2018 be the year of claiming courage and boldly living, boldly organizing!

Oh the holiday season…

There is always something about this season, through December and into Chinese New Year, that has had a different feel ever since living abroad.

Maybe its the “reverse cultural shock” that always seems to hit me unexpectedly at this time of year.

Maybe its the feeling of home sickness for my Asian Homes that comes with International Human Rights Day and International Migrants Day being close to each other and the pictures through my facebook news feed.

Or maybe its what seems to be the never ending reports of human rights violations, killings, and illegal arrest coming in from the Philippines

Or maybe its just the realities of the tens of thousands of migrant workers who are separated from their families today because of sacrifices to support their families with their basic needs.

But whatever it is, Im reminded of the advice from my very first Christmas Eve in Hong Kong. A simple question, “Are you happy?” and the moments later explaining that being happy is more important than having the world, what are you doing to be happy, despite being away from loved ones.

Its the reality of living into my calling, deepening my understanding of the struggles of migrant workers and their families and the solidarity of doing human rights advocacy basically daily in the Philippines. Finding my voice to share the stories, to explain the situation, and to build friendships and relationships.

Its not the “holidays” I grew up with, Instead, its time to learn, to listen, to reflect, and try to catch up with kasamas and friends around the world. Its time for conversations that aren’t meetings, cups of coffee, and getting rid of things to start 2018 fresh (and better organized.)

So if you wanna catch up, send me a text, fb message, email, whats app, or signal message. Would love to reconnect, catch up or just enjoy time together.

First reflections from ICHRP US Founding Assembly #Stopthekillings

The night and day are dark
Over 100 poltically related murders
over 13000 killed in the name of the war on drugs
The government tags legal progressive activist groups as terrorist
Threatening to kill anyone who cares about the basic rights of the people
Being a Human Rights defender means you are on the endangered specicies list

Evacaues wanting to go home, but to what?
Their houses demolished surrounded by puddles of bullets
Death rings through the night, when being a young male
Could be the reason that kills you
Human rights defenders becoming victims themselves
Our friends, our kasamas, our community

Under attack, survilence, lives under threat
Government giving up on peace declaring all out war
But when will they ever learn?
The military solution will never work
When the fuel of the resistance is poverty and landlessness

Sobra na, Tama na, Laban Lang
The people’s movement grows stronger
Lives at risk but they organize on
Silence equals death so they push on
Organizing for a just and lasting peace

Shouting, crying out for the basics
The right to go home, to attend school, and support their families
We hear their cries across the seas
Responding in powerful Solidarity
Launching the Stop the Killings Campaign

Founding ICHRP US, to speak with a united voice
For just and lasting peace & Stop the Killings
Calling out our own government involvement through funding
The military and police to commit the austrocities

We struggle on here in the belly of the beast
For human rights in the philippines our collective hearts beat
Until the killings are stopped & root causes addressed
For our friends, and community, we push onward
Living out our solidarity!
Stop The Killings in the Philippines!


Its about the small things 2017 edition

Five years ago during my first exposure trip to the Philippines, I wrote a blog entitled “Small things” and this week, that blog and the experiences of that first expo has continued to play in my mind. So with everything going on, I decided to write an updated blog, that I’ll call “Its about the small things”

It’s the truest hug, knowing smile and the are you okay?
The extra time, and how can we support each other today?
And the knowing hug, every time your paths cross

It’s the excitement in their voice, remembering the experiences
Reminding you why you continue in the struggle
And the openings to continue to deepen your organizing

It’s the sing-song, “Joy to the World” as the door opens
The reminders of the beauty of change
And the feelings of warm clean laundry

It’s the conversations across the kitchen table
Whether in your home or others
And the moments of unity, and concrete steps to move forward

It’s the text with encouraging words and emoticons
Moments when you break through, finding words
And understanding laws in ways you’ve been trying to

It’s the facebook message checking-in
The email with unexpected updates
And ability to think on your feet to adjust and move forward

It’s the kasamas who keep you grounded
Pushing you to remold while acknowledging we are all human
And reminders emotions are normal but how do you handle them is what is important

Its in the days that are extra challenging that I’ve learned to be thankful for the small things.

And so I write

So I write

Do you know:
that the farmworker who picked your fruits are still paid just a few dollars per box, thats not just in the history books?
how your hotel housekeeper as lifted over 200 beds this week that weigh 70 pds?
the student who doesn’t speak english yet, gets all her siblings ready in the morning as her parents work 3 jobs?

And so I write, to share the stories of realties of those in our community who we can often overlook.

Do you know:
That your cruise waitress goes 9months at a time without seeing his family, as his children grow up?
how the daycare staff down the street, pays $400 for an air mattress at night, if they sleep at all?
the caregiver taking care of your loved one, was up late watching their child grow over Skype?

And so I write, to share the stories of realties of those in our community who we can often overlook

Do you know:
That their are over 20 Lumad schools forcibly closed, even with all the proper documentation?
how indigenous parents make a decision to send their children to high school far away, so they can have an education?
the students you see continue to go to school even after their own President threaten to bomb them?

And so I write, to share the stories of realties of those in our community who we can often overlook

Do you know:
that their are indigenous people trying to protect their ancestral lands, despite government corruption giving their lands to multi-national companies?
how we have over 6,000 US troops on the ground in Mindanao, more than we have in Iraq (and we’re at war in Iraq)?
the human rights defenders who continue their work even as their lives are threaten just because they care for the protection of human rights?

And so I write, to share the stories of realties of those in our community who we can often overlook

Do you know:
that over 13,000 have been murdered in the Philippines in name of the War on Drugs?
how over 68 lives have been stolen through politically motiviated extra judicial killings, many who are peasants?
the faces of the people who continue to, organize because they see the possibilities for their country?

And so I write, to share the stories of realities of those in our community who we can often overlook?

Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to act?
Are we ready to accept responsibility for the hurt and harm we (and by we I also mean our ancestors) have caused?
Are we ready to live our solidarity, our faith into action to start the healing?

Understanding that chant

One of the first chants I learned in Hong Kong, and one i still stay with an Indonesian accent is “Long Live International Solidarity!” This chant has each and every day became more of the description for my calling and guiding my day-to-day life.

It started with the reality of being a six foot tall white women on Chater Road and in Victoria Park, which made people stare. Somewhere in this blog, there is the conversation I had during Occupy Hong Kong about being “right where I belong, with the migrants” and the turning point of me beginning to understand what that meant for my life and calling. Through challenging conversations with the workers and my Hong Kong family, I was pushed to learn more about the realties in the migrants home countries that force them to migrate for the sake of their families survival. To deepen my understanding of history and the role that the church has historically played in assisting colonial powers to oppress and conquer people both about redefining the word missionary but even more about righting the wrong through action, going back to the basics of our my faith as a United Methodist to live in the margins, care for the most oppressed and forgotten by being one with them in community, where church is separated from state and religious beliefs are a choice but for those who chose to believe, acting in solidarity to care for the orphan and widow of our society is living out our social holiness.

Then as my understanding of International Solidarity continued to deepen, i was confronted head on by my priviledge of carrying a blue passport and of European descent.   What would I do with that priviledge? Would i let it quiet me, or could I in the words of a batch mate of mine “use it in solidarity”? That is what I began to do, listen closely to the demands of the migrants, the stories of their struggle and when my voice was heard and theirs ignored, i echoed their demands. When I was invited to share, I worked hard to bring the workers voices with me. And when people stared, i started to engage them in conversation, explaining the realties of the forced migration of these 1000s of migrant women they see everywhere in the streets.

The chant “Long Live International Solidarity” signed the pasalubong I was given as I moved on to my domestic placement site. Don’t forget us and don’t keep fighting they said. And I moved on toward life here in Southern California. Learning more and having to struggle out the realities once again of my privilege but also learning more bout the ever worsening human rights situation.

Building upon my experiences in 2012, during my first month long exposure to the Philippines. Where I was challenged, approached my media, and shared text with my batch mates who were serving in the country.

Now back in the country of my passport, we all were in the same county. Struggling out what it meant to act in solidarity here. Again, struggling out my privilege, thankful for a community that continued to hold me accountable and who challenged me to further use it to bring the voices of the forgotten into spaces where they would be heard. And a community that sat with me while I cried, processed, and learned the ways to explain things to do just that.

I learned how to lobby my legislators by some baptism by fire moments of lobby visits early on, was given opportunities to speak and share of our work with others who just knew me as a missionary. And learned to how to explain the struggles and realities of the poor, the peasants, The Lumad, the workers of the Philippines to people across the country. There were lots of trial and error experiences, but all met with collective assessment and continued encouragement to learn from my mistakes but to trust my calling and continue on.

Now years later, Long Live International Solidarity has become not just a chant we say a rallies with others but a life calling. A calling that has left my heart in Asia, especially in the Philippines. As one member of the church i preached at on Sunday said, “For years, others have been trying to tell me about the Philippines and I’ve said I don’t want to know because I cant care about another social justice issue, i have enough already. But after hearing you I realize, I have to care because we are all connected.”

That to me is just that chant. We all can and should be passionate about certain issues but also we are all connected and that is the International Solidarity, supporting each other in whatever ways we can.

As I continue to process my calling spending time intentionally listening to God, through important conversations with members of my community. My calling becomes ever clearer, its to return to the country where my heart found its home. Living in International Solidarity and why the timeline and logistics continue to begin to work out. In ways that will not harm either the community i am leaving or the one I will eventually be entering. Im going to live out the Chant louder each day.

Challenging others who look like me out of their comfort zone, educating the community by opening doors for migrant workers, the victims of human rights abuses, and those people can chose otherwise to just ‘pretend’ aren’t on the margins.