By Erie Maestro and Mila Philipzig
Pamaskong Handog was created and organized by the Malaya Movement Canada as a “zoom-a-thon” fundraiser and musical showcase last December 5th that ran for five hours, cutting across time zones from Canada coast to coast. Pamaskong Handog was a serenade from Malaya Canada and all the generous donors to KAPATID, the support organization of families and friends of political prisoners in the Philippines. It was also a strong hand of solidarity extended across thousands of miles from here to the Philippines.
Fides Lim, wife of political prisoner Vicente Ladlad and the spokesperson of KAPATID underlined the significance of the Christmas Benefit Pamaskong Handog for KAPATID and the political prisoners they will help. She said, “This Christmas campaign comes at a time of unprecedented human rights violations when the process of remembrance and solidarity is imperative. Remembering is not so much about those who did not come to visit but about those who came and never left because they provide continuous support. From projecting the issue of political prisoners to pressing their release from unjust imprisonment, and gathering various political, material, financial support to protect their rights and welfare.”
Donations came in during the program from many people across Canada and the US – from caregivers and essential workers, seniors, professionals, alumni associations, migrant groups, young people, and concerned Canadians. Thanks to the generosity and solidarity of people in Canada, donors continued to respond even after the program was over.
The minimum suggested donation to attend the concert was $10, roughly equivalent to PHP370.00. The website for the concert clearly indicated what care packages would be available for this amount providing the donors a tangible idea about the gifts the beneficiaries would receive. Sample care packages contain 3 slippers and 2 face masks; or 10 bananas and ½ kilo of fish; or 20 tablets each of Neozep and Biogesic; or 2 loaves of bread, 3 cans of liver spread, and 3 sachets of sandwich spread, and so on.
More than twenty wonderful talents from Canada, the United States and the Philippines gave their gifts of song, music, prayer, and poetry. Alberta was represented by Koro Filipino, Lyla Luciano from Anakbayan, Kitbielle Pasagui, a former soloist from the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and an Edmonton poet, Mila Bongco. The other artists are musicians from the Philippine Philharmoic Orchestra and the broadcast station ABS CBN, Janet Lumb, Josie de Leon, Lyn & Nik, Han Han, AnakBayan singers, Nobel Queano, the Maestros, and the 14 Strings! Rondalla, Fr. Albert Alejo, Bandang Uppercase, and so much more.
Well-known Filipino scriptwriter, novelist, journalist, and former political prisoner Ricky Lee greeted the families and the political prisoners and said: “Napakalaking bagay ng ginagawang proyekto nito ng Malayang Canada lalo na ngayong Pasko na kailangang magtulungan at magdamayan tayong mga Pilipino.” (This is a worthwhile project of Malaya Canada especially on during this holiday season when we need to help and support each other.)
Marissa Corpus, spokesperson of Malaya Canada, encouraged the viewers to “be generous and share our blessings. Tuloy ang laban! On with the fight.”
Malaya Alberta sent messages of solidarity and support to all those fighting for justice, freedom, and a government free of corruption and full of integrity that will confer freedom to all political prisoners soon.
British Columbia Malaya convenor Treenee Lopez, said, “We support the call to free all political prisoners, and this Christmas we want you (political prisoners and families) to know you are not forgotten, we will continue to fight for you, for justice, democracy and freedom.”
Malaya Quebec members sent the political prisoners their Christmas greetings of hope and solidarity: “We are with you in all your struggles, we will continue fighting for you and your freedom. We are with you in spirit. We pray that this despicable political repression in the Philippines ends soon and you will be free to celebrate Christmas with your families.”
Breaking news of the arrest and detention of young organizer and new mother Amanda Lacaba Echanis and her month-old baby boy came out a couple of days before the event which made the benefit even more urgent. Her case and that of the still detained mother Reina Mae Nasino were highlighted at the zoom-a-thon benefit.
The Pamaskong Handog event will be available for viewing online soon so please follow us on Malaya Canada social media sites.
We continue to accept donations as the hard plight of political prisoners continue past the holiday season. We ask you to please e-transfer to Malaya.firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to include your email address for confirmation. Donors can also make a donation in someone else’s name as a gift, and a card will be sent to them. Alternate ways of giving are available at https://malaya-xmas.carrd.co/
Malaya Movement Canada