Violeta Marasigan

Violeta Marasigan (1939-21 April 2000), better known by her nickname "Bullet",[1] was a Filipino-American social worker[2] and activist[3] best known for helping establish the Filipino feminist organization GABRIELA and the released-political-detainees group SELDA;[4] for her resistance against and eventual imprisonment under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos;[5] and for advocacy work in the San Francisco Bay Area,[6][3] which focused on education for Filipino immigrant children, equal military benefits for Filipino American World War II veterans, the prevention of housing demolition that would affect elderly Filipinos, and racial slurs against Filipino women on American television.[7][8][3]

In recognition of her years of service to the Bay Area community, she was given the Unsung Heroes Award by KQED Public Broadcasting Co. in 1995. In November 2019 hers will be among the eleven names which will be added to the Wall of Remembrance of the Philippines' Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, which recognizes the heroes and martyrs that fought the Marcos dictatorship.[1]

Early life and education

Violeta Marasigan was born in the Philippines, but migrated to the Philippines where she studied at San Francisco State College.[7][9]  

Early Activism and the I-Hotel demolition

Soon after graduation, she was hired as a social worker for the Multi-Service Center of the United Filipino Association (UFA) - an organization which had put together to protest the impending demolition of the I-Hotel in the old Manilatown community of San Francisco, California.[6][7]

Aside from her general participation in the cause of the UFA, her job specifically involved serving a number of retirees whom she fondly called manongs (an ilocano term of endearment for elder men).  She was soon surprised to discover that these retirees were receiving only about half of their social security benefits every month.  In response, she lobbied their caseworkers to make sure that the retirees receive their full benefits every month.[7]

Activism in the Philippines (1971-1988)

When Marasigan and her and husband Pete came back to the Philippines in 1971, the country was in turmoil after Ferdinand Marcos' unprecedented spending to assure his win in the 1969 presidential elections triggered an economic collapse and massive social unrest.  A year later, Marcos would declare Martial Law.  Pete and Bullet Marasigan quickly got involved in activism against the Marcos regime.[4]

Bullet took up work with the family ministry National Council of Churches of the Philippines, and in that capacity, became well known for being present every time the council participated in a protest. The Marasigan home was raided by the regime's military forces in 1981,[5] and Bullet was jailed for almost a year in Camp Crame under charges of subversion.[4]

Journalist Ma Ceres P. Doyo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer later recounted an anecdote which humorously claimed

"the reason Bullet was released was that the barrage of words and laughter (that was subversive) she relentlessly unleashed became too much for her jailers."[4]

Organizations

Between returning to the Philippines in 1971 and returning to the US in 1988, Bullet became one of the founders of the feminist coalition GABRIELA, and also helped organize SELDA, an association of released political detainees.Other organizations she co-founded include Asian Women in Theology (AWIT),  and Kaiba, a women's political party.[4]

Return to the US and continued activism

In 1988, the Marasigans returned to California, and Bullet continued to in her activist activities.  She took up a post as district-wide social worker of the Veterans’ Equity Center, as counselor and social worker for the West Bay Filipino Multi-Services and Asian American Recovery Services. She also participated in the campaign to re-open the Filipino Education Center.[4]

Death

Bullet Marasigan died as a result of a car accident on the morning of Tuesday, April 18, 2000.[3]

Legacy

In recognition of her years of service to the Bay Area community, she was given the Unsung Heroes Award by KQED Public Broadcasting Co. in 1995. In November 2019 hers will be among the eleven names which will be added to the Wall of Remembrance of the Philippines' Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, which recognizes the heroes and martyrs that fought the Marcos dictatorship.[1]

A few months after her death, a resolution was filed to have Phelan Avenue in San Francisco renamed as Violeta "Bullet" Marasigan Avenue.[10] The avenue was eventually renamed "Frida Kahlo Way" in 2018.[11]

References

  1. ^ a b c Pimentel, Benjamin (April 19, 2000). "Filipino American Political Activist Dies: Marasigan killed in freak accident". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ Livholts, Mona; Bryant, Lia (2017). Social Work in a Glocalised World. Milton: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781317240969. OCLC 982452036.
  3. ^ a b c d "Violeta Marasigan; Bay Area Activist for Filipino Americans". Los Angeles Times. April 20, 2000.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Doyo, Ma. Ceres P. (April 29, 2000). "HUMAN FACE: Bullet, thanks for the rage, the laughter". The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  5. ^ a b US Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations (1983). Religious Persecution as a Violation of Human Rights: Hearings and Markup Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Its Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations, House of Representatives, Ninety-seventh Congress, Second Session, on H. Con. Res. 100, 378, 428, 433, and 434, H. Res. 269, S. Con. Res. 18, February 10, March 23, May 25, July 27 and 29, August 5 and 10, September 23, December 1 and 14, 1982 (Report). U.S. Government Printing Office.
  6. ^ a b Brook, James; Carlsson, Chris; Peters, Nancy J. (1998). Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture. City Lights Books. ISBN 9780872863354 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c d Habal, Estella (2007). San Francisco's International Hotel : mobilizing the Filipino American community in the anti-eviction movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 9781592134472. OCLC 220145963.
  8. ^ Pimentel, Benjamin; Writer, Chronicle Staff (April 27, 2000). "Memorial Service Held at City Hall For Activist Violeta Marasigan". SFGate.
  9. ^ Burdman, Pamela. "Bullet Marasigan: A Filipina-American Study in Contradictions". Wildflowers Institute Website. Archived from the original on 2003-05-10. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  10. ^ Epstein, Edward; Writer, Chronicle Staff (2000-11-07). "Long-Ago Mayor Branded a Racist / Move in S.F. to strip Phelan of namesake street". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  11. ^ "SF Street With Racist Connotations to be Renamed Frida Kahlo Way [UPDATE]". KQED Arts. 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2019-11-08.


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