Intense day

Today was a very intense day. Intense in a weird, confusing and uncomfortable way and intense in a very inspiring, empowering and impressing way.

Melona, our partner and friend of the Defend Job Philippines, really wanted to introduce us to some homeless families living next to the railway tracks. We asked ourselves many times before what that would add to our project and if it wouldn’t be weird to go there to meet these very poor people, but Melona insisted we had to meet them. At the spot it turned out to be that she knew them very well and so actually she wanted to introduce us to her friends and their children, who happened to be homeless. The community welcomed us with open arms, honoured and honestly taking care of us, which made us feel uncomfortable and with a reason of course.

If we thought we’re poor squatters from Amsterdam, here we were so rich these people could not even imagine. Weren’t we just stupid tourists? Or more like the development workers from unicef you see sometimes, proudly posing with poor kids with flies flying around? Or were we just invited to some ‘homes’ of our friend’s friend? All of these thoughts going through our heads and then suddenly some of the little girls started singing songs about living in the shanty town, about being evicted over and over again, about never being able to be somewhere long enough to feel ‘home’ and being violently robbed from the homemade spaces you just started to call ‘home’. Glad we went there. And glad we got this on camera.

The second part of the day was our meet and great with the workers of the Advan Shoe Factory who started a union and filmed the injustice happening inside the factory. The tree women came in little shy but ‘wow’ what an enormous empowerment and intense stories these women were carrying with them. They told us about the harassment by their boss before, during and after work. About the moments they decided they could not take it any longer. Gloria, the ‘president’ of the union, told us about the sexual harassments and the moment she decided to tell him to fuck off, unite and make all the women in the factory understand how important the union was. They first spontaneously started filming what was going on inside the factory with their mobile phones and then started to be more organized and spread it on the internet with the help of local video collective Tudla. We were happy to hear how empowered and connected these women felt after taking action by using the camera as a tool.

Here again we have some excellent video-material!

Tomorrow we’ll visit the old empty ex-Triumph factory and will meet the ex-Triumph workers who started their own little business in solidarity bags to support their struggle against Triumph and this garment-industry injustice. Keep posted!