SAN FRANCISCO - Filipinos joined hundreds of people who took to the streets of San Francisco’s financial district this week, taking part in the growing Occupy Wall Street movement where they barricaded the doors of banks.
The Filipino Americans who were at the protest likened the movement to the People Power Revolution of 1986, when over 2 million people filled the streets of EDSA in the Philippines and ended the Marcos dictatorship.
Joshua Castro of Bayan-USA said, “It’s going to take that kind of uprising to speak our minds and get what we want.”
The Fil-Am protesters said they are bringing the spirit of EDSA into the people power movement against Wall Street.
Tina Shauf of Gabriela USA and International Women’s Alliance said, “This is a real opportunity for us to get together and join the people in the U.S. and even abroad who are experiencing the effects of a broken financial system.”
The Occupy protests, which have spread to cities around the U.S. and around the world, want leaders in Washington and in Wall Street to take accountability for the economic crisis.
They call themselves the 99% — everyday people who have experienced bank foreclosures and predatory lending.
Mario de Mira of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns said, “We are the unemployed, the youth and the students who are experiencing budget [cuts] to education, the working class people who are experiencing cuts to social services, folks that can’t find jobs. We want to make sure our voices are represented.”
Raymond Castillo has been looking for a job since July. He said the government needs to focus on giving people jobs, instead of bailing out banks.
He said, “It’s really hard because even if you get a job, you have to settle for low-wages and take the abuse just to live.”
Victor Paul Bendijo, who works in the financial district, sees how the protests could be an inconvenience for those who work there. But he sees the need for it.
He said, “I’m in favor of change for the betterment of everyone.”
Fil-Am protesters said the only way people will versus Wall Street is if people never give up until the system changes — until the system works for the majority and not for the chosen few.