A broad coalition of Filipino community groups and service providers joined together Friday to announce the launch of a new campaign to end domestic violence in the Filipino community. Drawing on cultural institutions already in place in the community as well as professionals trained in domestic violence prevention and education, the campaign will be run by a new organization dubbed the Filipino Community Alliance to End Domestic Violence. Coming just a year after the murder of a Filipino women by her husband, the campaign comes at a vital time, and has the potential to make significant positive changes in the community.
Organizers of the coalition hope to end domestic violence through a variety of methods, perhaps most importantly though education. Their first step will involve obtaining pledges from a variety of Filipino organizations and groups that they will try to learn more about domestic violence, a subject often ignored in their community.
The campaign has already proven successful at drawing together a formidable group of participants, with a wide range of organizations with both ties to the Fillipino community and a history of involvement in domestic violence issues already involved. Groups such as Asian Women’s Shelter, Fillipina Women’s Network, La Casa de Las Madres, and Bay Area Legal Aid have already signed on to help, and organizers expect to involve more groups in the future.
Participants face formidable obstacles in their plight to promote awareness about domestic violence amongst Fillipinas. According to some community members, the strong cultural concept of shame can sometimes prevent dialogue from taking place, and can instill feelings of self-blame amongst victims of the violence.
“We met Filipina victims of domestic violence sharing the shame,” said Marily Mondejar of the Filipina Women’s Network. “They talked about their feelings about bringing this on themselves. About not talking about it lest they bring shame to their family.”
Organizers also highlighted deaths that have occurred in the Filipino community due to domestic violence as reasons why the campaign comes at a vital time. Clara Tempongko, mother of the slain Claire Joyce Tempongko, whose husband stabbed her to death, attended the kick-off, and provided a sobering reminder of what can happen when domestic violence goes unchecked.
“Today, I place a flower in rememberance of my daughter Calire Joyce, and pledge dedication to building violence free homes for Fillipino families,” said Tempongko.
Despite the grave nature of the event yesterday, it ultimately resonated with hope.
“It’s hard for women,” said domestic violence survivor Pearlie Salvador. “I know that there’s hope, there’s help. There are a lot of us who have survived it. There is a way out.”